Tillerson alias e-mails from his ExxonMobil era prove elusive

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate. (Reuters)
Updated 23 March 2017
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Tillerson alias e-mails from his ExxonMobil era prove elusive

NEW YORK: Emails sent under a pseudonym by current US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he was still CEO of ExxonMobil, and which are sought by a court, cannot be produced, lawyers for the oil giant said.
According to a letter dated March 21 and sent Wednesday by ExxonMobil to AFP, these e-mails, sent under the name Wayne Tracker, cannot be recovered for the period from September 5, 2014 to November 28, 2014.
The letter is addressed to the Supreme Court of the State of New York as part of an investigation opened in November 2015 by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
It is investigating whether ExxonMobil had adequately informed investors and the general public of potential financial risks posed by the need to limit the use of fossil fuels to fight global warming.
The probe established that Tillerson had used a personal account under the pseudonym Wayne Tracker for a number of years, in addition to his official corporate e-mail account. Wayne is his middle name.
As the Wayne Tracker account was classified as non-personal, it was “exempted from the suspension of the ordinary course ‘file sweep,’” the letter said.
Attorneys for ExxonMobil said that after several search series on this account, it was not possible to produce e-mails between September 5, 2014 and November 28, 2014.
The issue was limited to the Wayne Tracker account, according to the letter.
Schneiderman said in mid-March that Tillerson used this e-mail address between 2008 and 2015 to communicate with other group leaders on a number of issues including those linked to climate change.
A spokesman for ExxonMobil told AFP on Wednesday that “many of the e-mails from the secondary account (Wayne Tracker) were also available from Tillerson’s primary account or from e-mail accounts of employees he communicated with, which were on litigation hold.”
He added that at a Wednesday hearing the New York State Supreme Court found that the oil group had responded adequately to Schneiderman’s demands.
Tillerson, who celebrates his 65th birthday on Thursday, took the helm of ExxonMobil in 2006 and adopted sharply contrasting views with those of his predecessor Lee Raymond on global warming.
He notably spoke up in favor of a carbon tax in 2009.
But as head of the State Department Tillerson now works under the administration of President Donald Trump, which has voiced skepticism of climate-change science.


Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

Updated 18 August 2018
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Taliban’s Ghazni assault sparks new Pak-Afghan tensions

  • Pakistan’s Foreign Office says Afghanistan has not shared any evidence to support its recent allegations against Pakistan
  • Imran Khan’s idea of a soft border between Pakistan and Afghanistan may have suffered a big setback in the wake of the Ghazni attack

PESHAWAR: In the backdrop of the Taliban’s brazen assault on the southern city of Ghazni in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani alleged that the bodies of the perpetrators had arrived in Pakistan, though Islamabad maintained that Kabul had not officially shared any information or evidence in this regard.
Soon after that, the Afghan president said in a fiery speech to a jirga in Ghazni: “I have a message for Pakistan. Dead bodies (of the Taliban) have arrived in (Pakistan). Peace cannot be forcefully imposed on Afghanistan. Where did they (Taliban) come from and why are they being treated in (Pakistani) hospitals?”
But Pakistan strongly rejected reports claiming that some Taliban fighters involved in the Ghazni attack had been offered medical treatment in its hospitals.
In the absence of any official communication through regular channels established bilaterally, such reports cannot be given any credence, said Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday.
Haq Nawaz, a senior Peshawar-based security analyst, told Arab News that the newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan faced a string of daunting challenges, such as economic revival, political stability, tackling corruption, and improving relations with his country’s immediate neighbors.
However, he added that recent developments in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have stepped up violent activities, will probably constitute a much bigger predicament for the new political administration.
He recalled that Khan had mentioned in his victory speech that he wanted a European Union-style soft border with Afghanistan, claiming that the idea had seemingly received a setback after the Ghazni attack.
“The latest bout of allegations will have a negative impact on the process of reviving good relations between the two neighboring countries,” Nawaz noted.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed “deep concern” over the recent surge in violence in Afghanistan and lamented in a statement released by the military’s media wing the loss of precious lives.
Bajwa reiterated that Pakistan was not supporting terrorist activities inside Afghanistan. He added that the allegation about the movement of injured or dead terrorists from Ghazni to Pakistan was incorrect.
However, the army chief noted that there were scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan, and that some of them periodically fell victim to acts of terrorism along with their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. “Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate,” he maintained.
Yet, the Afghan president sought an explanation from Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on the Ghazni attack.
“Imran Khan, you are the son of Pashtun parents. Investigate this and give me an answer. General Bajwa, you have repeatedly given me assurances over phone calls that special attention would be given to the issue of peace in Afghanistan once elections took place in Pakistan. Now give me an answer,” Ghani said while addressing a group of tribal elders attending the jirga.
Bajwa said that different factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan hiding in their sanctuaries in Afghanistan after assuming Afghan identities, were transported to Pakistan for medical help after receiving injuries.
Nawaz said the Afghan government should share relevant evidence with Pakistan in this case, arguing that using the media or social media to deal with such serious and sensitive developments can worsen the situation.
He said it was not just a statement or allegation from an ordinary official since the claim was made by a head of state, adding that both countries should settle such teething issues through dialogue and diplomatic channels.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in its statement: “Such reports can only be viewed as malicious propaganda to vitiate the existing cooperation between the two countries.”