"We've Seen Exxon Leading the Charge to Go After Groups That Criticized Them"

(Photo: Kai Schreiber)(Photo: Kai Schreiber)

Janine Jackson interviewed Zorka Milin about Rex Tillerson for the December 16, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.

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Janine Jackson: A widely circulated news article on the appointment of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of State opens with the note that “the brash Texas oilman…helped forge or supervise exploration, production, and refinery projects in 50 countries on six continents.” But corporate media really only appear interested in one country, and that’s Russia.

Tillerson’s Russian ties are worth talking about, sure, but they’re far from the whole story. The group Global Witness exposes the links between natural resource extraction, corruption, armed conflict and environmental destruction. Zorka Milin is a senior legal advisor with Global Witness. She joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Zorka Milin.

Zorka Milin: Thank you very much; it’s a pleasure.

Resource extraction, corruption, conflict, environmental destruction — making the head of Exxon secretary of State would seem to put a pin right through all of those, or to touch on those. People may have some general sense, but what in particular worries or concerns you about Rex Tillerson in this job?

Well, Janine, as you pointed out, our organization is dedicated to carrying out investigations into environmental, human rights abuses and corruption, and specifically highlighting how they’re driven by the exploitation of natural resources. And so in the course of our investigative work over the years, we have bumped into Exxon a few times. So there’s a lot of other groups that have already highlighted some concerns specifically around climate change, and we share those concerns, and, as you mentioned, the Russia connection has political implications.

But I think there’s a broader point here, that we hope the public and the media really are not taken in by this notion that Tillerson’s deal-making with other countries…

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