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For those claiming the leaked cables are only "low-level gossip". Here's what the Guardian just dug out of the dump:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and were unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.

Unlike usual unsourced reporting where the corporation and/or government can just wave it off as unsubstantiated rumors, this time we get the actual documents to look at.

These two cables contains the US ambassador's account of his conversations with Ann Pickard, Shell EVP for Africa.

The first one is where Shell's infiltration of the Nigerian government is revealed, and their influence on it:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

She said the GON had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to all the relevant ministries and that Shell consequently had access to everything that was being done in those ministries.

The second shows that Shell must have a pretty extensive corporate intelligence program in the country:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

She claimed Shell has "intelligence" that one to three SAMs may have been shipped to Nigerian militant groups, although she seemed somewhat skeptical of that information and wondered if such sensitive systems would last long in the harsh environment of the Niger Delta in the care of groups not known for their preventive maintenance practices.

As an added bonus it has the following remark near the bottom:

Pickard has repeatedly told us she does not like to talk to USG officials because the USG is "leaky." She may be concerned that by telling us the true impact of the attack, more bad news about Shell's Nigerian operations will leak out.

Nothing interesting for the general public indeed.

Originally posted to Ott on Wed Dec 08, 2010 at 02:33 PM PST.

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