03-31-09 by dugan
Corporate arrogance leads to corporate blindness: AIG execs who packaged impossible risk into AAA securities, bankers who lent trillions on a bet that the real estate bubble would never pop. In Chevron’s case, it’s a CEO who hired one of the Bush administration’s chief torture-enablers as the company’s top legal adviser and thought there’d be no blowback. The latest problem for Chevron Chief Counsel William J. Haynes is the Spanish judge who’s issuing indictments against former White House officials, likely including Haynes.
Here’s the short item from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Stay home for the holidays: More discomfort for San Ramon’s Chevron Corp. and its chief corporate counsel, William J. Haynes II.
Spanish prosecutors are contemplating criminal charges against Haynes,
the Defense Department’s former general counsel, and other members of
the Bush administration, for their connection to detainee abuses at
Haynes, as we itemized in December, figured prominently in a critical Senate Armed Services Committee report on the subject. This month, the San Francisco chapter of the leftist National Lawyers Guild called on the State Bar of California to sanction Haynes for his reported role.
Responding to a request for comment, Chevron said, "Jim Haynes is a
respected and proven lawyer who joined Chevron with a reputation for
acting with the highest degree of ethics and integrity, consistent with
our company’s values."
Probably of most immediate concern to Haynes is the risk of
traveling abroad, where he could be served with an arrest warrant
should the Spanish court choose to proceed.
The most interesting statement above is Chevron’s complete disregard for criticism by the Senate or anyone else–that Haynes has a "reputation for acting with the highest degree of ethics and integrity, consistent with our company’s values." It says a lot more about corporate values than about Mr. Haynes.
If Ecuador has an extradition treaty with Spain, an indictment of Haynes could prevent him from defending Chevron in the company’s biggest-ever liability case, over toxic industrial pollution in Ecuador’s Amazon.
Ecuador’s extradition laws offer Haynes a little bit of hope: Extradition is barred for "political" and "military" crimes. But on the downside, "unintentional" criminal acts are no bar to extradition. It’s all in the interpretation, eh? That’s probably what Haynes himself was thinking when he supported "stress" techniques against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.
In Washington, Chevron may also find Haynes a liability. Chevron’s lobbying for U.S. sanctions against Ecuador is no longer falling on such friendly ears.