Steve and Me

Last night, Steve Jobs made his first public statement on conflict minerals, following a Sunday column by Nick Kristof in the New York Times, which heavily featured our recent campaign:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/27/opinion/27kristof.html

http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/26/scrubbing-our-cell-phones-of-conflict-minerals/

A reader wrote Jobs:

Hi Steve,

I’d planned to buy a new iPhone tomorrow – my first upgrade since buying the very first version on the first day of its release – but I’m hesitant without knowing Apple’s position on sourcing the minerals in its products.

Are you currently making any effort to source conflict-free minerals? In particular, I’m concerned that Apple is getting tantalum, tungsten, tin, and gold from Eastern Congo through its suppliers.

Looking forward to your response,
Derick

Jobs’ replied:

Yes. We require all of our suppliers to certify in writing that they use conflict few materials. But honestly there is no way for them to be sure. Until someone invents a way to chemically trace minerals from the source mine, it’s a very difficult problem.

I had sent a private email to Steve 2 weeks ago, requesting a meeting. I have now emailed Steve once more:

Dear Steve,

Thanks for your first public comments on conflict minerals. While I applaud your honest acknowledgment that the present certification system is not adequate, there is no question that minerals are, in fact, traceable and guaranteed conflict-free Apple products are possible. Apple has both the resources and capacity for innovation to help solve this problem.

I wrote you a few weeks ago as a loyal Apple consumer and leader of the recent grassroots outcry on conflict minerals (prior to the DC protest and NY Times piece) offering an in-person briefing with experts to learn about the human cost of conflict minerals and most importantly, solutions.  Will you please meet with us?

I look forward to working together as allies on this critical issue.  The human stakes simply could not be higher

On behalf of thousands of Congolese women and children, thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Lisa Shannon

Guest Blog: Gramma Ann’s Rebuttal #3 to Intel

Chuck Malloy’s statements on behalf of Intel to Oregon Public Broadcasting for the OPB article of June 2nd [http://bit.ly/cXLm77] are telling:

  1. “Every step of the way in a 10 or 15 step process of a supply chain we back tracked and said, where do you get your material and how do you know that it’s clean…”
  2. “it’s been a very painstaking effort”;
  3. “At the end of the day if the political climate is such that that law gets past. [sic]  Our approach at least will get some sort of relief and we’ll be able to say to the smelters, that’s not from a conflict mine is it?  And they be able to say, no it’s not.” [sic]

The fact remains:  Intel, and all of the tech industry, need to be called to account here.  It cannot remain optional for them to continue to profit off the deadliest conflict since World War II and the worst sexual violence on the planet, particularly when HP itself put forward the estimated cost of implementation with full accountability measures in place at 1cent per product without a word of protest or argument from tech industry ranks.

When 45,000 people are dying every month, and up to 7 million have already died (5.4 million as of 2/2007, with 45,000 new deaths every month) as a result of the conflict mineral trade, more than a trivial effort, even some measure of difficulty and inconvenience, are warranted on behalf of importers.

As Malloy directly states, Intel’s goal is a system in which the importer need only to ask its smelters if the minerals used are clean. If the smelters say it’s clean, the importer is in the clear!  When no accountability or penalties are at stake, how effective will it be for smelters to be able say whatever serves their (and their importer’s) vested interest when ‘asked’ if their products contain conflict minerals?  Ummm… Let me guess…

10 or 15 steps? That is all that is involved?  How many steps and levels of complexity are involved in producing a computer or even a computer chip?  How many steps are involved in managing the development, manufacture, delivery, and marketing systems of any high quality line of computers and tech products?  What multi-billion dollar, multinational corporation is incapable of handling a 10 or 15 step process that costs 1cent per product?  And exactly how painstaking can those steps be if they only involve a 1cent per product cost?

The real question is why Intel and other tech companies are unwilling to undertake a 10 or 15 step process, even if every step actually were ‘painstaking’, when those steps are pivotal to reversing the tide of 7 million additional Congolese deaths in the decades to come if no accountability is put into place?

Intel’s and other tech industry brass, including Apple’s Steve Jobs, would do well to invest a day in eastern Congo, up-close-and-personal with conflict mineral trade victims.  It is an honor, one worth a little “painstaking” effort, for these companies (who have been profiting off of the unrelenting terror the Congolese have been subjected to for the past 14 years) to GUARANTEE CONFLICT FREE products.

Guest Blog: Intel Censoring Congo Advocates

From Ann Shannon:

Intel just never seems to learn. After creating a media furor over deleting the posts of Congo advocates on its Facebook Page last week, Intel opened a CSR blog dedicated to conflict mineral legislation inviting us to submit our questions and comments, promising that our questions would be answered.  It is censoring our comments, though. Below is my submission (submitted May 21 and resubmitted May 23 after it did not appear on the blog) examining Intel’s statement of May 19th, made by Suzanne Fellender, its Portland CSR person, on the blog. Lisa also submitted a piece on Friday which was never approved or posted)

Now Intel has buried the blog (Intel’s Statement on Conflict Minerals Issue) as No 22 in a long list of blogs available through a link on its Facebook page.  Scroll down long enough and you will find it (without Lisa’s or my most recent submissions).

Dear Suzanne,

You stated in your last post here: “we are genuinely working to find ways to move things forward and help improve supply chain responsibility around the sourcing of these minerals.”

I am tired of being argumentative with Intel…I really don’t like posing enemies. Fighting dragons is exhausting and, frankly, I am too old for it. I have other things I would rather be doing with my time. But the specific proposals that Intel has promoted in the ITIC behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts make your/Intel’s statement seem completely disingenuous and outright hypocritical. Every change it has sought to the legislation is obviously designed to circumvent any meaningful improvement in supply chain responsibility.

One case in point of the MANY ways Intel/HP/ITIC has sought to undermine an importer’s accountability for its supply chain:

1. Intel/HP/ITIC have sought to remove an importer’s responsibility to certify a Customs Declaration that the articles it is importing are “conflict mineral free” or “contain conflict minerals” as specified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States as having been identified in the Potential Conflict Goods List.

2. It then replaces that requirement with the far more general requirement that an importer declare to THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE every 180 days that: a) it has implemented a system to determine whether its suppliers that produce such articles use metals produced from facilities designated to ‘contain conflict minerals’ or are ‘conflict mineral free'; and b) based on that system, which articles it has imported in the last 180 days contain conflict minerals; AND c) evidence that an importer has imported articles containing conflict minerals in the prior 180 days shall not prevent the importer from claiming the reasonable care defense.

So basically, an importer has only to DECLARE it has implemented a system to determine whether articles it imported over the previous six months had conflict minerals.

But THERE ARE NO STANDARDS OR DEFINITIONS OF WHAT AN ADEQUATE SYSTEM WOULD ENTAIL, OR FOR THE IMPORTER’S ENFORCEMENT OF ITS OWN SYSTEM, NOR ARE THERE CONSEQUENCES OR PENALTIES FOR AN IMPORTER’S FAILURE TO ENFORCE ITS “SYSTEM”!  There is ZERO enforceability or accountability involved.

FURTHER, reducing the importer’s obligation to making one declaration every 180 days to the Department of Commerce concerning all that it has imported in the prior 180 days, rather than certifying a Customs Declaration as articles enter the country is a ridiculously vague and general requirement that it appears to mock the objectives of the legislation. It is so transparent as to be laughable, if it were not for the fact that Intel/HP/ITIC seriously proposed it while there are 45,000 lives at stake every month.

How could you or any Intel executive expect anyone genuinely concerned about those lives to take your professed good intentions at face value? How could Intel brass not expect the public to be choking on our rage at their hypocrisy? The evidence stands in clear and direct contradiction to Intel’s professed concerns about working toward “real change” on conflict minerals.

What kind of fools do they take us for? (I know you are just doing your job, Suzanne, …and can only feel for you at how embarrassing that must be for you.)  How much contempt does the CEO & Bd of Directors have for our intelligence and for the intelligence of the Senators and Representatives that are working toward meaningful legislation to stem the tide of the carnage in the DRC? I am speechless at the magnitude of your bosses’ arrogance, to think that they can continue spouting these platitudes while promoting such shameless amendments to this legislation.

There are too many other issues, serious and complicated issues, for me to go into at the moment. But believe me, I will get to them, and I will continue to plaster them all over the internet, and I will be sending them to others to send to our Representatives and Senators.

Intel cannot, and will not, get away with this.

Intel Categorically Refuses Public Meeting with Congo Advocates

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for the heads up on your planned trip tomorrow – appreciate it. I am actually not based in Santa Clara, I am based in Arizona (as are a number of our supply chain teams and execs) and I did not have plans to be in Santa Clara tomorrow. To set expectations for your visit (since I know you are traveling a long way), I wanted to make sure that you knew that our interest in having a public meeting on this topic has not changed. While we do not plan on getting into a detailed discussion tomorrow, we respect your ability to voice your opinion on this very important issue. I appreciate you asking again about property guidelines and logistics information – will be same approach as in Oregon re: sidewalk location.  When you arrive, please call my colleague Grace Davis who manages Corporate Affairs for California at {XXX} and she will come down to say hello and take any additional statements/information you want to share back internally. If you have any trouble reaching Grace in the morning, please feel free to email or call me as well. Also, just so I can make sure that Grace is available when you arrive – do you have a general estimated time of arrival?

Regards and safe travels,

Suzanne

Thanks for the response Suzanne. I hear AZ is lovely.

We aim to arrive around 10 am and stay the day. We want to give Intel plenty of time to read the letter we are asking you to sign, discuss amongst yourselves, and get back to us with that signed letter! We’ll wait all day if we need to…
In terms of your position on a public meeting, as far as I am aware, you have not made a clear statement one way or the other. You offered to meet several times as the correct location- is that AZ? Or was that offer strictly for a private meeting. Just confused and want to clarify- you want a public meeting, or you are not open to a public meeting?
I understand and respect the goal of avoiding a detailed exchange out front. Will Grace listen to our statement?
Thanks so much!
Lisa

My apologies Lisa, for any confusion – I thought I was clear from the beginning when I first offered to set up a meeting and you said a few times that you were not interested in having a private meeting, only a public meeting.

To clarify, we are not interested in conducting this type of meeting in a public forum. On an issue this complex, we think it would be more productive to have a meeting where we pull in a number of people who have been working closely on this issue for the past year and sit down with you to have a discussion. I do understand why you want to only talk in a public forum – and I respect that. But we don’t believe that the public meeting of the kind that you suggest would lead to serious dialogue or improved understanding which would be our goal. Should you change your mind, our offer still stands for a private meeting at some point in the future. In terms of location, we could be flexible on this – we just would need some advance notice to plan around travel schedules on our end.

Suzanne

Heading to Silicon Valley w/ 45,000 pennies & nothing to lose…

Dear Suzanne,

My mom and I have packed up the car with our 45,000 pennies and we’re coming to see Intel!  We will be there tomorrow.  Due to recent news regarding the bill’s status passing the Senate, now in committee, we would like to put a new offer on the table. You get the 45,000 pennies if you are the first to sign on to the attached letter in support of strengthening the legislation.  In light of our ongoing public conversation, and Intel’s history of leadership on this critical issue, we are coming to you first, tomorrow, with our 45,000 penny offer.  This is your moment to shine.

We would love to have a meeting, provided it is public, we have the right to film, and the 45,000 penny offer is on the table.

Specifically, we would like to meet with Paul S. Otellini, President and Chief Executive Officer. However, we would also be delighted to meet with Senior Vice President Brian Krzanich (Manufacturing and Supply Chain) or Craig C. Brown, Vice President of Technology and Manufacturing.

Please let us know the Intel HQ property rules in advance, as we certainly plan to respect property guidelines etc, as we clearly did in Portland last week.  We would also be delighted for you or Rick Reed to stop by. We’ve been through so much together at this point, we’re practically old friends! We will not consider this a substitute for meeting with those responsible for Intel’s supply chain, but it would be fun to say hi.

We want Intel to know though it may feel scary, we are here for you and will support you in guaranteeing your supply chain. We will pay the extra penny, and even support you in charging a premium for your newly conflict free products. You could  actually profit! Guarantee conflict free!

Warmly,

Lisa Shannon

May 24, 2010

The Honorable Chris Dodd

Chair, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

United States Senate

Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Richard Shelby

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

United States Senate

Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Barney Frank

Chair, House Financial Services Committee

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC  20510

The Honorable Spencer Bachus

Ranking Member, House Financial Services Committee

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC  20510

To Chairman Frank, Chairman Dodd, Ranking Member Shelby and Ranking Member Bachus:

The undersigned companies write to express our support for strong legislation on conflict minerals as part of the amendment sponsored by Senator Brownback (3997) to the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 (S.3217). This amendment is a crucial first step toward transparency and accountability in minerals supply chains, and we commend the Senate Banking Committee for supporting it.

We are committed to working with our supply chains and to be transparent on our conflict minerals due diligence process to guarantee that our products are “conflict-free.” We support a rigorous accountability, reporting and penalty system to ensure that companies that use tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold in their products are not fueling conflict in Congo.

Legislation in the United States will hold all companies to a level playing field with strong standards for transparency and accountability. During conference we urge that you take specific steps to amend this legislation without changing the core of the bill:

  • The bill must ensure transparency in these supply chains.  To that end, we recommend the bill specify that companies report the names of the smelters they utilize to process raw minerals into metals, and the results of audits of the procurement practices of these smelters.
  • Second, we support legislation that would impose significant penalties for false statements or failing to provide adequate statements, by negligence, gross negligence, or fraud.
  • Third, strong provisions from Representative Jim McDermott’s Conflict Minerals Trade Act (HR 4128), including those on investigations, reports, and definitions, need to be preserved in this legislation.
  • Fourth, legislation should enable public scrutiny and contain measures that will allow for oversight of industry by government and civil society. U.S. government agencies should separately investigate mineral smelting operations and publish a list of smelters who source from conflict areas.

To demonstrate the transparency that is the objective of this legislation, we commit to publicly disclosing all of our lobbying efforts in support of this bill.

Sincerely,

cc:            Senator Sam Brownback

Senator Richard J. Durbin

Senator Russell D. Feingold

Congressman Jim McDermott

Congressman Howard L. Berman

Congressman Donald M. Payne

Intel’s 35 billion dollar brand-squandered over pennies?

Dear Rick Reed,

Thanks for posting that link and for Intel’s apology for deleting public discussion on this vital piece of Intel business!   I see from your Facebook profile, you “develop and implement strategic crisis management responses and extinguish product and corporate reputational ‘fires’, preventing issues from becoming public crises that could impact Intel’s $35 billion brand.”  I understand why you got in touch! From your Facebook photo, you look like a lovely person. Delighted to connect with you. Perhaps you can help us out.

Intel said you would have the right person on your blog to answer our questions. No one has responded. Any plans to do so?

Why would Intel risk squandering a 35 billion dollar brand to save less than a penny a product, much less when it comes to a subject as serious as conflict minerals and the Congo, where 45,000 lives are lost every month?  Human life is worth more than a penny. We’ve seen the transparently self-serving changes industry wants for the bill. Intel can’t win unless you abandon these back-door lobby efforts and fully embrace the bill as written.

You have issued several generic, opaque statements on this issue.  Intel’s statement on conflict minerals is the exact statement you gave us on Monday- you support the “objective” of the bill, but not the bill, certainly not as written. Intel has been supporting measures to weaken the bill, including the addition of an escape clause called the “reasonable care defense”.  Now you say  you support “real” change.

In a leaked industry memo, your lobby group states, “Because industrial supply chains are complex, and metals may enter an importer’s supply chain several levels below the importer’s first-tier supplier, no importer can be a guarantor the conflict minerals have not entered the supply chain…” What is Intel’s public position on this statement?  That is the point of the legislation. Accountability. Do you plan to take full responsibility for your supply chain? Guarantee it?

Republicans and Democrats alike, 23 in the Senate and 46 in the House believe in the bill enough to co-sponsor, that it is enforceable, doable, and you can be 100% guarantor of your supply chain. The bill itself states,”determining the sources of columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, wolframite, and their derivatives used by processing facilities has already been successfully done at low cost.”  Does Intel agree with our leaders and endorse HR 4128, as written?

Hewlett Packard stated- in the room with Intel, Motorola, and ITIC- that the bill in it’s fully enforceable state will cost less than 1¢ per consumer electronics product, and termed the expense “negligible”. It is not a disputed number. Are you willing to pay- or charge consumers- that extra penny to save Congolese lives?

Your industry group is pushing for an escape clause called the “reasonable care defense”. It seems to me this clause serves no function but to let industry off the hook with “we tried”. Not good enough. Does Intel support this clause? Or reject it?

Your group crossed out language that would hold industry accountable for fraud, gross negligence, or negligence. Does Intel fully support tech companies being held accountable for fraud, gross negligence, or negligence when claiming your products are conflict free? Or not?

We have said we would be delighted to have a PUBLIC meeting with Intel. Too many of these conversations have happened behind closed doors. Will Intel CEO and President Paul Otellini meet with us- publicly- with our 45,000 penny offer on the table?

We understand peer pressure. Your industry groups have tight ties. That’s why we’re here. We need you to lead. We remain hopeful you will claim your place as the definitive industry leader- and enhance that 35 billion dollar brand of which you are so proud!  When you let go of your upset over the one penny “burden” (a figure your industry does not dispute), we will celebrate you!  Listening to your buyers will make you human rights heroes.

Best,

Lisa Shannon


Guest Blog: A Gramma Responds to Intel’s Statement

Rebuttal to Intel Statement to Oregon Public Broadcasting by Ann Shannon

Yesterday, Lisa Shannon, Founder of Run for Congo Women and author of A Thousand Sisters, took me (her mother), her niece Aria and 24 friends and supporters to Intel’s Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro, Oregon, to demand that the company stop all secret, back-door lobbying efforts to gut accountability measures from HR 4128, the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, and to immediately and unconditionally endorse HR 4128 AS WRITTEN.

We took 45,000 pennies with us.  While in DC last week to appear on a panel with Senators Brownback (R-Kan) and Wyden (D-OR), Lisa had learned that experts had estimated that passage and implementation of the bill would cost industry producers less than 1 cent per product.   With 45,000 lives being lost in DR Congo due the conflict minerals trade, we were offering to pay the 1cent per product/per life that the company would lose the first month.  We were urging Intel and other tech companies to simply pass along that cost to their consumers, confident that no American consumer would hesitate to pay an extra penny to ensure that their laptop is not being powered by Congolese blood and suffering.

Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Krstian Foden-Vencil, and Willamette Week’s Jacob Reingold covered the event.  (See:http://news.opb.org/article/7347-activists-protest-intels-use-conflict-minerals/ andhttp://blogs.wweek.com/news/2010/05/17/picketers-hit-intel-over-mineral-imports/)

Intel issued a statement to Foden-Vencil in response to his inquiries, which he quoted in his blog.  Below is my rebuttal to the Intel statement issued to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

My Response/Rebuttal to the Intel Statement issued to Oregon Public Broadcasting —

The core issue is that exploited minerals essential to all electronics products are fueling the conflict in DR Congo. Militias regularly use terror to clear away local populations in order to gain and maintain control of mining territory. It’s a simple formula: behead 29 people one day, burn 47 people alive 3 days later and, by all means, mutilate and rape every woman you come across to scare locals away from their land, and you will be free to mine away, to your heart’s content.
With an estimated new 45,000 deaths every month and hundreds of thousands of women having been brutally gang raped, addressing conflict minerals is a key element in stopping the carnage. There is no disagreement from anyone on this.
Please note that Intel did not issue a denial that, as Lisa Shannon asserts to have learned several from DC insiders, Intel has been taking a leading role in the back-door, secret lobbying efforts to amend the Conflict Minerals Trade Act through the industry lobby group..
What Intel did issue was a statement to Foden-Vencil that, “…it is concerned about conflict minerals…” and that “it wants to make sure legislation will achieve real change — not just result in an unintended ban on legitimate trade.”
While publicly professing to support the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, Intel betrays its true position by saying the proposed legislation will “just result in an unintended ban on legitimate trade.” Given that, the reports that Shannon has received from DC insiders naming Intel as one of two primary leaders (along with Hewlett-Packard) acting through the industry group to drastically reduce the bill’s enforceability measures are not surprising.
But exactly how motivated is Intel in ensuring that the legislation achieves the “real change” that it is publicly avowing to save its public face?  Just how honestly is Intel representing itself here?
The most direct way to determine that is to compare HR 4128 as written with the changes sought by the industry group, as specified in the industry group document  recently leaked to Lisa, and which she is making available to the press.
SEC 8 (b) of the bill as written reads: “Matters To Be Included- Each report required under subsection (a) shall, with respect to each importer identified under subsection (a) include the following information irrespective of whether any party to the importation has requested confidentiality: the carrier code, vessel country code, vessel name, voyage number, district/port of unlading, estimated arrival date, bill of lading number, foreign port of lading, manifest quantity, manifest units, weight, weight unit, shipper name, shipper address, consignee name, consignee address, notify party name, notify party address, piece count, description of goods, brand, manufacturing company, container number, and seal number.”
That wording would appear (to this old, unsophisticated Gramma), to allow for collection of extensive data on the parties involved in the delivery and sale of conflict mineral laden products, and with a great deal of specificity.
The alternate Section 8(b) proposed by the industry, however, reads: “Matters To Be Included- Each report required under subsection (a) shall, with respect to each product that contains conflict minerals, shall [sic] included [sic] the following information irrespective of whether any party has requested confidentiality [sic] description of goods including, brand, and manufacturing company or importation company.”
Why would an industry, which is only seeking to “achieve real change” on conflict minerals, aim to eliminate all meaningful identifying information of those participating in the conflict minerals trade delivery system and of the specific products that contain them? My best guess, but again, I am just a Gramma:  In so rewording the bill, they obliterate information vital to monitoring and further addressing the flow of conflict minerals, their derivatives and the products that contain them both to regulators, and the public (peace and anti-genocide advocacy groups, or any consumers desirous of avoiding the purchase of conflict mineral products).
Moving on, SEC 9 (a) on Penalties, HR 4128 as written reads: “(a) Penalties relating to Conflict Minerals. If any person, by fraud, gross negligence, or negligence, enters, introduces, or attempts to enter or introduce any good that contains one of more conflict minerals (as such term is defined in Section 11) into the territory of the United States by means of inaccurate information with respect to the imported good, such person shall be subject to penalties pursuant to section 592 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1592).”
The industry group, however, proposes to strike out: “by fraud, gross negligence, or negligence, enters, introduces, or attempts to enter or introduce and [sic] good that contains one of more conflict minerals (such as term is defined in section 11) into the territory of the United States by means of inaccurate information with respect to the imported good”.
It proposes instead the far more generic (and I would be willing to bet, far more difficult to enforce in meeting the legal standard of “knowingly”): “…If any person knowingly provides a false declaration or fails to declare to the Secretary of Commerce, such person shall be subject to penalties pursuant to [insert applicable citation].”
All of the above (and actually much more in the leaked document) aside, however, nothing belies the industry group’s true intentions to obstruct enforceable conflict minerals legislation or the seriousness of its commitment to “achieve real change” than its own statement preceding the suggested changes in the leaked document: “Providing a transaction-by-transaction certification on the importer’s customs declaration would be significantly burdensome…” and that the “system of penalties must include a reasonable care defense…” Because “no importer can be a guarantor that conflict minerals have not entered the supply chain despite it’s [sic] exercise of reasonable due diligence to exclude them.”
In other words, the whole intent and purpose of this legislation, to ensure accountability all along the supply chain of conflict minerals, is prima facie unattainable and unenforceable to the companies who are deriving profit, however indirectly, from conflict minerals. We are all simply wasting our time.  (Should we just let the bodies continue to pile up in DR Congo and get therapy to cope with our grief and impotence?)
Nailing the coffin on enforceability and industry accountability, the industry group proposes adding the following paragraph SEC. 9 (c) to the bill:
“(c) Reasonable Care Defense – The Secretary of Commerce, in setting penalties under subsection (a), and the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, in assessing penalties under section 1952 of the Tariff Act of 1930, shall provide for an affirmative defense to any such penalty if an importer has exercised reasonable care in making its declaration in accordance with Sec 7(a)(1) or in declaring goods to be non-conflict minerals upon import in accordance with section 7(b)….”  I am sorry for interrupting the text here, but the temptation is irresistible in that what comes next is so outlandishly transparent and chilling as to intent, in the industry group’s definition of what should be deemed”reasonable care”  …”An importer shall be deemed to have exercised reasonable care if it:
(A) Contractually obligated its direct suppliers to exclude conflict minerals from goods supplied to the import; or
(B) Obtained a certification from its direct suppliers verifying that goods supplied to the importer do not contain conflict minerals;
and
(C) Investigates credible information that a direct supplier may be in breach of its obligations and takes appropriate corrective action if the direct supplier is in breach. Evidence that conflict minerals may have entered a supply chain despite the exercise of due diligence in accordance with an importer’s declaration shall not disqualify the importer from the affirmative defense of reasonable care.”
In other words, if we tell our suppliers contractually that they can’t do it, and they tell us they didn’t do it, AND no one comes forward to tell us otherwise, we can look the other way.   They can do whatever they want, submit as many falsified documents as they wish, and our hands are clean by the standards of this legislation.  Only IF someone comes to us to complain there has been a breach, are we obligated to look and see what is actually going on! We are in no way obligated to be proactive in assuring that our suppliers are complying with their contractual obligations.
All of this has been proposed, while SEC 2. FINDINGS of the bill as written unequivocally state at paragraph (13):  “There are ample sources of columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite, and wolframite in non-conflict areas of the Congo and worldwide, processing columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, and wolframite for commercial use requires sophisticated technology, there are a limited number of processing facilities worldwide for columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, wolframite, and their derivatives, and determining the sources of columbite-tantalite, cassiterite, wolframite, and their derivatives used by processing facilities has already been successfully done at low cost.”
Wow… with the tech industry going to those heroic measures to stop those 45,000 lives being lost every a month and to end the worst sexual violence on the planet (while saving a penny in product costs), maybe we should find someone to nominate Intel and its industry group for the Nobel Peace prize.

My exchange with Intel Corp. Responsibility

Hi Lisa,

I was forwarded this blog post today by one of my colleagues about a planned protest at Intel on Monday in Oregon – and you were identified as one of the point people in the post. http://blog.oregonlive.com/siliconforest/2010/05/protest_seeks_intels_backing_f.html

I work in Intel’s Corporate Responsibility Office and I apologize if you had tried to contact someone at Intel this week to set up a meeting to discuss this and hadn’t heard back. But this is an issue that we’ve done a lot of work on over the past year and take very seriously. We regularly meet with groups to discuss how we are approaching this issue, so I’m happy to coordinate a meeting with people from our end.

Please let me know how I can help,

Suzanne

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for your note. I appreciate you reaching out. Unfortunately, my concern about Intel’s recent work on conflict minerals is directly related to conversations that have taken place behind closed doors. Hence, the need for public statement and action.

I am aware of Intel’s engagement on conflict minerals. We applaud and thank you for you leadership on supply chain investigations and willingness to address the issue of conflict minerals. The proactive steps the company has taken make it a frontrunner of the industry.  However, we have heard reports that Intel is pushing to water down the Conflict Minerals Trade Act (H.R. 4128) to make it less “burdensome” for industry.  [Inserted specific info on their back door efforts here- deleted for blog post]

[These measures] will weaken the bill, stall it in Congress, ultimately cost tens of thousands of Congolese lives and continue the worst sexual violence on the planet. No industry “burden” could possibly compare to what our sisters in Congo live through every single day. For Intel to push back over stakes as low as a penny per product, the company has launched an assault on all of our humanity.  There are no half-rapes in Congo. No half-massacres. And there is no half-support for the bill. As Intel’s consumers and employees, we must ensure that the company does the right thing and supports H.R. 4128, as the bill is written, this year.   We are bewildered that Intel would take steps that risk its groundbreaking efforts on conflict minerals in an effort to save less than one penny per product.

Human life is worth more than a penny. We urge Intel to immediately cease all efforts to weaken the Conflict Minerals Trade Act.  Intel must issue a public statement of unqualified support of The Conflict Minerals Trade Act as written and actively lobby for its passage.

Intel is in a unique position. If the company comes out in full support of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act as it is written, you would immediately position the company as the definitive industry leader on this critical issue. Just as Run for Congo Women was started in Portland, and helped ignite a global movement for Congo, we would be so very proud to see an Oregon company be the first tech company to provide robust, unfettered, unqualified support for this legislation.

I hope you will forgive my frank tone, but what’s happening in Congo is all too real. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. And Congolese women are our family.

Best,

Lisa Shannon

Founder, Run for Congo Women

Author, A Thousand Sisters

Dear Suzzanne,

We will be at Intel at 12:30 on Monday, and welcome the opportunity to meet with Intel on the record with all the activists (not just a few representatives) and all the media. Quiet talks have already taken place repeatedly in DC and elsewhere. We are asking for transparency and a public commitment. Please let us know who we should ask for.
We would be delighted to embrace Intel’s new leadership if you are able to provide a strong endorsement of the Conflict Minerals Trade Act as written and commit to urge fellow tech companies to do the same.
I thought you would be like to read this message I received from one of your employees: “…to read this literally has brought tears in my eyes. I feel responsible for the lives of Congo women lost. I will try my best to come to Monday’s event . I hope I can bring awareness among my company to bring the change.”
I look forward to seeing Intel break out as the definitive industry leader on this critical issue.
Thank you so much!
Best,
Lisa
Hi Lisa,

One of the challenges is that the individuals who have been working directly on this issue are not based in Oregon. But I understand that you want to proceed with your event as you have planned and want to contact someone on site, so when you arrive at 12:30, please call my colleague Jill Eiland who manages corporate affairs and corporate responsibility issues in Oregon.  Also, our offer still stands to arrange a follow-up meeting where we can have the right people on our end participate – you can either talk to Jill about this tomorrow when you call her or follow-up with me afterwards. We appreciate your recognition of the leadership actions we have taken on this issue to date – we have invested a great deal of time and resources and are committed to continuing to work collaboratively to identify solutions going forward.

Regards,

Suzanne

Thanks so much Suzanne. We will call Jill when we’ve gathered. As I said, we will be more than happy to have a meeting with her in public, cameras rolling, media present, with all activists present. We can do this outside- she can walk over to meet us, or inside your building. As you chose.

Also, please understand we are a respectful group of mostly moms and grandmas. We will respect Intel property/ rules, etc. We simple need to know what those guidelines are.

We are not interested in setting up a follow up meeting with “the right people”. The bills in question are up for discussion right now, and we will not engage in stalling or more meetings. The solution is known, and our ask is clear: Intel must issue a public statement in full support of the HR 4128 AS WRITTEN, and cease all lobbying efforts to weaken the bill. While the group will be at Intel for a couple of hours, my mom and I will be happy to wait all day for Intel to issue this public statement. This could be a big, beautiful moment in Intel’s history of corporate responsibility. We hope you will seize the day!

Thanks!

Lisa

Hi Suzanne,
We were very disappointed Intel was unwilling to speak with us publicly, or even hear our statement. (Though we did enjoy meeting your burly security guys!)
Unfortunately, the statement you issued does not meet our criteria for leaving the 45,000 penny love gift. But there is still time! My mom and I are still here, with the pennies, until 6pm! We hope Intel will reverse positions, and embrace the less than one penny expense it would mean if the bill passes with it’s full enforceability. I believe you will come to see the 1 cent expense is a joy and privilege rather than a burden!
Warmly,
Lisa + Lisa’s Mom Ann + Lisa’s Niece Aria

Portland Mothers and Daughters to Confront Intel on Conflict Trade

Please contact us immediately to join our groundbreaking action in Portland Oregon (email hidden; JavaScript is required). On Monday, at 12:30 PST, we will carry 45,000 pennies to Intel, representing the 45,000 lives lost every month in the conflict, and the one penny per product the  Conflict Minerals Trade Act would cost tech companies- as written. We urge Intel to issue a public statement fully supporting H.R.4128 as written, and cease all efforts to remove the bill’s teeth, including pressing for an industry escape clause.

Our message: We’ll pay the extra penny. Congolese lives are worth it.

Please send the following message to Intel, care of our new contact at the corporate responsibility department: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Dear Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini,

We applaud and thank Intel for their leadership on supply chain investigations and willingness to address the issue of conflict minerals. The proactive steps the company has taken make it a front runner of the industry.  However, we have heard reports that Intel is pushing to water down the Conflict Minerals Trade Act (H.R. 4128) to make it less “burdensome” for industry.   This will weaken the bill, stall it in Congress, and ultimately cost thousands of Congolese lives and continue the worst sexual violence on the planet. As Intel’s consumers and employees, we must ensure that the company does the right thing and supports H.R. 4128, as the bill is written, this year.   We are bewildered that Intel would take steps that risk its groundbreaking efforts on conflict minerals in an effort to save less than one penny per product.

Human life is worth more than a penny. We urge Intel to immediately cease all efforts to weaken the Conflict Minerals Trade Act. Rather, we urge Intel to issue a public statement in full support of The Conflict Minerals Trade Act as written and actively lobby for its passage as written.

Sincerely,

Your name here

Share the story of you and your sister!

We are looking for a few SF Bay Area women, who have sponsored a sister in the Congo, to participate in a video project. On April 26th and 27th, we’ll be taping short video segments of women who were inspired to sponsor a sister in the Congo through Women for Women International. You’ll have the opportunity to meet Lisa Shannon in person and tell the world what inspired you to sponsor a sister in the Congo through Women for Women International—and how your life may have been changed by doing so.

If you’re interested in being a part of this video and sharing your story, please send an email briefly introducing yourself and your sister to Andie East at email hidden; JavaScript is required for consideration.

And for anyone else who would like to share their story here on the blog, please post your story as a comment!  Let’s inspire one another!