Cross-posted at DailyKos. The White House today nominated Zalmay Khalilzad to be American ambassador to Iraq. “Khalilzad has been the odds-on favorite to replace John Negroponte,” say the NY Times and Village Voice, which notes:

[The Times, Associated Press, and New York Sun didn’t mention] Khalilzad’s experience as a consultant to a major oil company.

[NYT] ran 592 words and referred to Khalilzad’s high school basketball career and his graduate work … The Sun printed 770 words [about his] job as the envoy to Afghanistan …

[N]either paper mentioned Khalilzad’s work for Unocal [which] included negotiating with the Taliban over a pipeline [across] Afghanistan in the 1990s.

I note that not even The Village Voice revealed that Khalilzad — a protégé of Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz — “is a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).”
The Village Voice continues:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usFrom a top job at the National Security Council to his recent gig in Kabul, Khalilzad brings a host of diplomatic experience to the new job. Just because he once worked for an oil company doesn’t mean he’s being installed at the behest of the petroleum industry. So it would be a stretch to make too much out of Khalilzad’s work for Unocal several years ago.

But it also seems weird to make nothing out of it–and especially to mention key points of his resume but not the Unocal stint.

Of course, it is possible the reporters simply didn’t know about the Unocal connection. While the link was mentioned in “Fahrenheit 9/11” and several articles about that movie, it is not noted in the State Department’s official biography of the diplomat. But a State Department spokesman confirms Khalilzad did work for Unocal. has the low-down on Khalilzad, including his nickname of “Viceroy”:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usZalmay Khalilzad, “the most senior Afghan-American” and highest-ranking Muslim to serve in the Bush administration,[1] became the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in November 2003. He headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Defense Department in 2000 and has been a Counselor to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.[2]

He is a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and was one of the signers of the [letter to Clinton].

In September 2004, Khalilzad was charged with trying to influence the October 9 Afghan presidential elections. “Several [Afghan presidential] candidates … maintain that the U.S. ambassador and his aides are pushing behind the scenes to ensure a convincing victory by the pro-American incumbent, President Hamid Karzai,” reported the Los Angeles Times. One candidate, Mohammed Mohaqiq, said Khalilzad had asked him and others to withdraw from the race: “They have been doing the same thing with all candidates. That is why all people think that not only Khalilzad is like this, but the whole U.S. government is the same. They all want Karzai — and this election is just a show.”[3]

Khalilzad denied the charges, but the Los Angeles Times notes: “Khalilzad has been nicknamed ‘the Viceroy‘ because the influence he wields over the Afghan government reminds some Afghans of the excesses of British colonialism. … Delegates to gatherings that named Karzai interim president in 2002 and ratified Afghanistan’s new Constitution last December also accused the ambassador of interfering, even of paying delegates for their support.”[4]

Joel Brinkley summarizes Khalilzad’s network in the Bush administration as follows:

“Mr. Khalilzad, a protégé of Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz since long before Mr. Bush took office, served as a senior director on the president’s national security council staff during the early years of Mr. Bush’s first term.”[5]

The Sunni Sisters blog adds the following about Khalilzad’s wife:

One document that came up again and again in my research into Progressive Islam was the RAND Corporation’s April 2004 publication, “Civil Democratic Islam,” by Cheryl Benard. The publication of the report made some waves among Muslims this past spring, but was by and large dismissed as yet another attempt by the United States government to try and solidify political and cultural influence with “moderate” Middle Eastern allies such as Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey. Only a handful of Muslims seem to have bothered to ask who Cheryl Benard and the RAND Corporation are.

Cheryl Benard is an Austrian-born self-styled feminist who has, in the past, written several rather offensive novels about Muslim women. A trained sociologist, she is married to Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born Bush diplomat and National Security Council advisor who happens to be a former RAND analyst, UNOCAL representative to the Taliban, and protegee of Paul Wolfowitz. Benard and Khalilzad met while they were doing graduate work at the University of Chicago, where Khalilzad was mentored by Albert Wohlstetter, an influential neo-con theorist who also mentored Wolflwitz, and Ahmed Chalabi.

Khalilzad was also an associate at the Project for a New American Century, and one of twenty-five PNAC associates who sent a letter to President Clinton in 1998 calling on him to invade Iraq. The signatories included Donald Rumsfeld, William J. Bennett, William J. Kristol, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz. Other PNAC associates, supporters, and thinkers have, in the past, included J. Danforth Quayle, Elliot Abrams, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, and Francis Fukuyama. In other words, it’s the cream of the neo-con and right-wing crops.

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