12/28/2005

It's Hell Below

Yesterday's New York Times story on Freeport-McMoran was one of the best investigative feature stories I've read in a long time.

Devastating in its simple recitation of the facts, the piece exposed the mining company's complicity with Indonesia's military (whose human rights record is so poor that the U.S. government stopped dealing with them for 12 years) to protect its operations in that country. In addition to making payoffs to individual generals and colonels, Freeport-McMoran also reportedly spied on its environmental critics, who have denounced the mine's ruinous impact on the country's forests and rivers.

It's also worth checking out a Q&A with the story's authors, Jane Perlez and Kirk Johnson. The piece is part of their series on gold mining around the world and its impact on communities, the environment and the global economy.

Since the 1998 election cycle, Freeport McMoran has contributed $195,000 to Republican congressional committees and $27,635 to Democratic congressional committees. And Chairman James R. Moffett, whose total compensation in 2004 was $9.5 million, gave a few thousand dollars to the Bush campaign in 2004.

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