Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Halliburton's Deals Greater Than Thought

By Michael Dobbs
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 28, 2003; Page A01

Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice President Cheney, has won contracts worth more than $1.7 billion under Operation Iraqi Freedom and stands to make hundreds of millions more dollars under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to newly available documents.

The size and scope of the government contracts awarded to Halliburton in connection with the war in Iraq are significantly greater than was previously disclosed and demonstrate the U.S. military's increasing reliance on for-profit corporations to run its logistical operations. Independent experts estimate that as much as one-third of the monthly $3.9 billion cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is going to independent contractors.

Services performed by Halliburton, through its Brown and Root subsidiary, include building and managing military bases, logistical support for the 1,200 intelligence officers hunting Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, delivering mail and producing millions of hot meals. Often dressed in Army fatigues with civilian patches on their shoulders, Halliburton employees and contract personnel have become an integral part of Army life in Iraq.

Spreadsheets drawn up by the Army Joint Munitions Command show that about $1 billion had been allocated to Brown and Root Services through mid-August for contracts associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Pentagon's name for the U.S.-led war and occupation. In addition, the company has earned about $705 million for an initial round of oil field rehabilitation work for the Army Corps of Engineers, a corps spokesman said.

Specific work orders assigned to the subsidiary under Operation Iraqi Freedom include $142 million for base camp operations in Kuwait, $170 million for logistical support for the Iraqi reconstruction effort and $28 million for the construction of prisoner of war camps, the Army spreadsheet shows. The company was also allocated $39 million for building and operating U.S. base camps in Jordan, the existence of which the Pentagon has not previously publicly acknowledged.

Over the past decade, Halliburton, a Houston-based company that made its name servicing pipelines and oil wells, has positioned itself to take advantage of an increasing trend by the federal government to contract out many support operations overseas. It has emerged as the biggest single government contractor in Iraq, followed by such companies as Bechtel, a California-based engineering firm that has won hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. Agency for International Development reconstruction contracts, and Virginia-based DynCorp, which is training the new Iraqi police force.

The government said the practice has been spurred by cutbacks in the military budget and a string of wars since the end of the Cold War that have placed enormous demand on the armed forces.

But, according to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and other critics, the Iraq war and occupation have provided a handful of companies with good political connections, particularly Halliburton, with unprecedented money-making opportunities. "The amount of money [earned by Halliburton] is quite staggering, far more than we were originally led to believe," Waxman said. "This is clearly a trend under this administration, and it concerns me because often the privatization of government services ends up costing the taxpayers more money rather than less."

Wendy Hall, a Halliburton spokeswoman, declined to discuss the details of the company's operations in Iraq, or confirm or deny estimates of the amounts the company has earned from its contracting work on behalf of the military. In an e-mail message, however, she said that suggestions of war profiteering were "an affront to all hard-working, honorable Halliburton employees."

Hall added that military contracts were awarded "not by politicians but by government civil servants, under strict guidelines."

Daniel Carlson, a spokesman for the Army's Joint Munitions Command, said Brown and Root had won a competitive bidding process in 2001 to provide a wide range of "contingency" services to the military in the event of the deployment of U.S. troops overseas. He said the contract, known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP, was designed to free uniformed personnel for combat duties and did not preclude deals with other contractors.

Carlson said the money earmarked for Brown and Root was an estimate, and could go "up or down" depending on the work performed.

The Joint Munitions Command provided The Washington Post with an updated version of a spreadsheet the Army released to Waxman earlier this month, giving detailed estimates of money obligated to Brown and Root under Operation Iraqi Freedom. Estimates of the company's revenue from Iraq have been increasing steadily since February, when the Corps of Engineers announced the company had won a $37.5 million contract for pre-positioning fire equipment in the region.

In addition to its Iraq contracts, Brown and Root has also earned $183 million from Operation Enduring Freedom, the military name for the war on terrorism and combat operations in Afghanistan, according to the Army's numbers.

Waxman's interest in Halliburton was ignited by a routine Corps of Engineers announcement in March reporting that the company had been awarded a no-bid contract, with a $7 billion limit, for putting out fires at Iraqi oil wells. Corps spokesmen justified the lack of competition on the grounds that the operation was part of a classified war plan and the Army did not have time to secure competitive bids for the work.

The corps said the oil rehabilitation deal was an offshoot of the LOGCAP contract, a one-year agreement renewable for 10 years. Individual work orders assigned under LOGCAP do not have to be competitively bid. But Waxman and other critics maintain that the oil work has nothing to do with the logistics operation.

The practice of delegating a vast array of logistics operations to a single contractor dates to the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and a study commissioned by Cheney, then defense secretary, on military outsourcing. The Pentagon chose Brown and Root to carry out the study and subsequently selected the company to implement its own plan. Cheney served as chief executive of Brown and Root's parent company, Halliburton, from 1995 to 2000, when he resigned to run for the vice presidency.

At the time, said P.W. Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar and author of "Corporate Warriors," it was impossible to predict how lucrative the military contracting business would become. He estimates the number of contract workers in Iraq at 20,000, or about one for every 10 soldiers. During the Gulf War, the proportion was about one in 100.

Brown and Root's revenue from Operation Iraqi Freedom is already rivaling its earnings from its contracts in the Balkans, and is a major factor in increasing the value of Halliburton shares by 50 percent over the past year, according to industry analysts. The company reported a net profit of $26 million in the second quarter of this year, in contrast to a $498 million loss in the same period last year.

Waxman aides said they have been told by the General Accounting Office that Brown and Root is likely to earn "several hundred million more dollars" from the no-bid Corps of Engineers contract to rehabilitate Iraqi oil fields. Waxman, the ranking minority member on the House Government Reform Committee, had asked the GAO to investigate the corps' decision not to bid out the contract.

After a round of unfavorable publicity, the corps explained that the sole award to Brown and Root would be replaced by a competitively bid contract. But the deadline for announcing the results of the competition has slipped from August to October, causing rival companies to complain that little work will be left for anybody else. Bechtel, one of Halliburton's main competitors, announced this month that it would not bid for the corps contract and would instead focus on securing work from the Iraqi oil ministry.

In addition to the Army contracts, Halliburton has profited from other government-related work in Iraq and the war on terrorism, and has a $300 million contract with the Navy structured along similar lines to LOGCAP.

Pentagon officials said the increasing reliance on contractors is inevitable, given the multiple demands on the military, particularly since Sept. 11, 2001. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is a champion of "outsourcing," writing in The Post in May that "more than 300,000 uniformed personnel" were doing jobs that civilians could do.

Independent experts said the trend toward outsourcing logistic operations has resulted in new problems, such as a lack of accountability and transparency on the part of private military firms and sometimes questionable billing practices.

A major problem in Iraq, Singer said, has been the phenomenon of "no-shows" caused by the inhospitable security environment, including the killing of contract workers, including a Halliburton mail delivery employee earlier this month.

"At the end of the day, neither these companies nor their employees are bound by military justice, and it is up to them whether to show up or not," Singer said. "The result is that there have been delays in setting up showers for soldiers, getting them cooked meals and so on."

A related concern is the rising cost of hiring contract workers because of skyrocketing insurance premiums. Singer estimates that premiums have increased by 300 percent to 400 percent this year, costs that are passed on to the taxpayer under the cost-plus-award fee system that is the basis for most contracts.

The LOGCAP contract awarded to Brown and Root in 2001 was the third, and potentially most lucrative, super-contract awarded by the Army. Brown and Root won the first five-year contract in 1992, but lost the second to rival DynCorp in 1997 after the GAO criticized the Army for not adequately controlling contracting costs in Bosnia.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

Enron Presidency
by Matt Bivens

Ten days after taking office, George Bush and Dick Cheney launched their "energy task force." The meetings were secret, including from Congress, and participants today report they "could not recollect whether official rosters or minutes were kept." Despite such implausible deniability, it's now official that the Cheney-led task force negotiated our future primarily with "petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity industry representatives and lobbyists." That's according to a new report by the non-partisan investigative arm of Congress, the General Accounting Office.

In fact, our energy future was negotiated not primarily, but exclusively, with those industry reps. Environmental groups were given 48 hours notice to develop their recommendations, and emerged from last-minute meetings with low-level functionaries feeling like they'd been deceived and used as window-dressing. Meanwhile, Enron execs met frequently with Vice President Cheney himself, including a 30-minute meeting between Cheney and Enron chief Ken Lay, while Lay's underlings huddled repeatedly with Cheney's underlings.

The General Accounting Office, or GAO, is one of Washington's most respected agencies. (Its miserable website uses frames, however, so I can't provide a link to their 31-page report. You can find it by clicking here, then clicking "GAO Reports," then looking under Aug. 25, 2003.) Journalists and politicians devour the GAO's even-handed audits, which focus on basic who-what-when-where questions, and on whether money was spent as advertised. After the GAO writes up a draft of its findings, it sends it out for comment to relevant agencies; it may then rewrite the report to reflect those comments, or simply include them in full as an appendix.

Dealings with the Bush-Cheney crowd have thrown that collegial formula out the window.

When instructed by Congress to collect answers to the who-what-when-where questions about Cheney's task force, the GAO approached the White House -- and was told to blow. After tense negotiations, the GAO made the historic decision to subpoena the Vice President's Office. Their subpoena, however, was shot down by Judge John Bates, a Bush appointee. As a former deputy of Ken Starr's, Bates had once ordered the Clintons' living quarters tossed in a futile search for a seemingly mythical box of evidence -- he even had federal agents look under Chelsea Clinton's bed for it. Now on the bench, he's discovered an almost-serf-like reverence for imperial "privacy," and in December came to the startling conclusion that the GAO has no right to sue the White House. The GAO talked of an appeal, but then Republican Congressmen told them to lay off or be laid off. So the auditors cried uncle, and then put together the best report they could.

In large part the auditors relied upon records wrested free in other legal actions by private groups, among them the Natural Resources Defense Council -- records that a year ago confirmed in exhaustive detail the Cheney crowd's coziness with big polluters, including Cheney's six separate meetings with Enron execs. (NRDC long ago set up a fascinating web page analyzing and cataloging the task force paperwork, including a great slide show of farcically blacked-out pages and other highlights.)

When the GAO had concluded its draft, it sent it around for comments to relevant agencies. None of them -- not the EPA, not the Energy Department -- would offer a single word in reply. The Office of the Vice President, in the ultimate Washington "&^%$# you," refused to accept or read the draft. The whole experience left David Walker -- the comptroller general of the United States and head of the GAO -- worrying about the end of "a reasonable degree of transparency and an appropriate degree of accountability in government."

Transparency? Accountability? Consider that the auditors couldn't even get the White House to say how much money was spent on this task force charade. Auditors counted $861,250 in taxpayer cash allocated for the Cheney-Enron-Exxon lunch-fests by various agencies. But spending by the White House itself, where nearly all of the meetings and work took place, is apparently top secret. It's probably a couple of million dollars of our money spent -- but it's also, as with every other aspect of this Administration's behavior, apparently none of our business.

GAO Cites Corporate Shaping of Energy Plan

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 26, 2003; Page A01

The White House collaborated heavily with corporations in developing President Bush's energy policy but repeatedly refused to give congressional investigators details of the meetings, according to a federal report issued yesterday.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said in the report that Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham privately discussed the formulation of Bush's policy "with chief executive officers of petroleum, electricity, nuclear, coal, chemical and natural gas companies, among others."

An energy task force, led by Vice President Cheney, relied for outside advice primarily on "petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity industry representatives and lobbyists," while seeking limited input from academic experts, environmentalists and policy groups, the GAO said.

The task force was one of Bush's highest priorities after his inauguration and was launched on his 10th day in office. None of the group's meetings was open to the public, and participants told GAO investigators they "could not recollect whether official rosters or minutes were kept," the report said.

Yesterday's report was the culmination of a lengthy legal battle between Congress and the Bush administration over the secrecy of government deliberations. The GAO sued in federal court for access to records of Cheney's task force, but dropped the action after a decisive court setback, followed by pressure from Republicans. The GAO said its information was incomplete because of administration intransigence. Although the Energy Department released e-mails, letters and calendars that reflected heavy input from corporations, the GAO report provided the first systematic look at the extent to which the administration relied on corporations and insisted on secrecy in developing its policy, issued in May 2001.

Among the previously disclosed meetings were private sessions for Kenneth L. Lay, then the chairman of Enron Corp., the Texas energy trading company that collapsed in the nation's largest accounting scandal. Lay was given a 30-minute meeting with Cheney and a conference with a top aide for the task force.

David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States and head of the GAO, said in an interview that the standoff over the task force documents called into question the existence of "a reasonable degree of transparency and an appropriate degree of accountability in government."

Walker said the energy investigation was the first instance since he took office in November 1998 in which the GAO was unable to do its job and produce a report according to generally accepted government auditing standards.

"The Congress and the American people had the right to know the limited amount of information we were seeking," Walker said.

The White House issued no substantive response. Jennifer Millerwise, Cheney's spokeswoman, said the White House hopes "that everyone will now focus as strongly as the administration has on the substance of meeting America's energy needs."

David S. Addington, the vice president's counsel, said in a letter to Congress last year that the task force, formally the National Energy Policy Development Group, met with "a broad representation of people potentially affected by the group's work," including state and local regulators, labor unions and wildlife advocates.

After this month's blackouts crippled much of the Northeast and Midwest, GOP congressional leaders vowed to move swiftly after Labor Day on energy legislation that is based on Bush's policy and includes plans for shoring up the nation's electricity grid. The legislation has been stalled for more than two years; Democrats say that is because of Bush's insistence on tax breaks and other incentives for energy production, including oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The report provides Democrats with ammunition for their contention that Bush's energy policy is filled with favors for corporate interests. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.), who joined the request for the GAO probe when he was chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said voters should know what role energy companies played in writing the policy. "They will never know the full truth because the White House chose to stonewall instead of cooperate with investigators," said Lieberman, a presidential candidate.

The report said several corporations and associations, including Chevron Corp. (now part of ChevronTexaco Corp.) and the National Mining Association, gave detailed energy policy recommendations.

ChevronTexaco declined to comment.

Carol Raulston, a senior vice president of the National Mining Association, said the recommendations were given to both parties and published on the group's Web site. She said the most important one was funding for research into clean-coal technology. Cheney's report adopted that plan.

The task force was "a centralized, top-down" process that involved several hundred federal employees but relied little on nonpolitical expertise in the government, the GAO report said. It said the Interior Department, which manages many of the federal lands where White House officials want to increase oil and gas exploration, "was not assigned a lead role in writing any of the [task force] report chapters."

The report documents $861,250 in administration spending on the policy. But that amount does not include spending by the White House, where the task force recommendations were produced and most of the meetings were held.

Of the 77 pages Cheney's office provided the GAO, two-thirds contained no cost information, and the remaining third included "miscellaneous information of little or no usefulness," the report said.

The vice president's office "stated that it would not provide any additional information," the investigators wrote. An unusually caustic GAO news release complained of the office's "persistent denial of access" to task force records.

In December, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled that the GAO had no legal standing to sue the vice president for refusing to turn over the documents. That vindicated the argument of administration lawyers that such suits could encroach on the ability of the president and vice president to receive unvarnished advice. The GAO in February dropped its pursuit of the case.

Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club are pursuing a separate legal battle for the energy records. A federal appeals court panel ruled last month that the groups could be entitled to documents from Cheney's staff. The Justice Department has asked the full appeals court to review the ruling.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

GAO issues final energy report
Democrats blast Cheney, White House on secrecy

By William L. Watts, CBS.MarketWatch.com
Last Update: 4:24 PM ET Aug. 25, 2003

WASHINGTON (CBS.MW) -- Questions regarding who helped formulate the White House's 2001 energy plan and how much the process cost remain a mystery to congressional investigators and the public, said a General Accounting Office study released Monday.

The conclusion is no surprise since a federal judge in December derailed the GAO probe, dismissing a lawsuit filed by the congressional investigative agency seeking details of contacts between the energy task force, which was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, and energy industry officials. See archived story.

Congressional Democrats, who had sought the probe, said the final report underscored a lack of openness with the public.

"The Bush Administration is obsessed with secrecy. This is profoundly unhealthy to our democracy," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. "The result is not just bad decisions on energy, but a rejection of the principles of open government and public accountability."

Cheney spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise, in a statement, said that with the court's earlier dismissal of the GAO lawsuit and Monday's final report, "we hope that everyone will now focus as strongly as the administration has on meeting America's energy needs."

While stopping short of invoking a claim of executive privilege, the administration has refused to provide details regarding who the vice president met with in formulating the policy, saying such action would deprive the executive branch of the freedom to solicit wide-ranging and unvarnished opinions from outside the government.

The GAO report concludes that the task force "met with, solicited input from, or received information and advice from nonfederal energy stakeholders, principally petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, and electricity industry representatives and lobbyists."

The extent to which their input shaped the final report, however, "cannot be determined based on the limited information made available to the GAO," the report said.

Efforts to determine the cost of developing the energy program were also stymied by the refusal of the Office of the Vice President and the Energy Department to provide comprehensive cost data, GAO said, complaining that of the 77 pages of information provided by Cheney's office, "two-thirds ... contained no cost information while the remaining one-third contained some miscellaneous information of little or no usefulness."

Meanwhile, a separate lawsuit by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club, a liberal environmental organization, aiming to pry loose some of the same information has fared better, with a divided federal appeals panel earlier this summer ruling that the White House has to comply with a lower court order to produce requested documents.

The Justice Department has asked the full appeals court to review the ruling.

The GAO dropped its lawsuit against Cheney after U.S. District Judge John Bates said the court lacked the authority to enter into the "historically unprecedented" dispute between Cheney and Congress.

"Such an excursion by the judiciary would be unprecedented and would fly in the face of the restricted role of the federal courts under the Constitution. Accordingly, the complaint must be dismissed," wrote Bates, an appointee of President Bush.

The energy plan called for expanded oil and gas drilling on public land and for easing regulatory barriers to building nuclear power plants. Among the proposals: drilling in the Arctic wildlife refuge and possibly reviving nuclear fuel reprocessing, which was abandoned in the 1970s as a nuclear proliferation threat.

Most powerful vice president in history really

Some vice presidents have been dubbed "the most powerful vice president in American history" while they were in office.

Reporters during the Carter administration gave that title to Vice President Walter Mondale, the former U.S. senator serving in the administration of the former governor of Georgia.

When veteran Washington insider George H. W. Bush was vice president in the administration of Ronald Reagan, we got the sense that Bush was highly influential in Reagan's major policy decisions. So Bush then became the most powerful vice president in American history.

In the Clinton era, Al Gore -- another Beltway veteran in the administration of a former governor -- was often dubbed "the most powerful . . ." etc.

Those casual references made sense at the time. Each of the vice presidents had lengthy Washington experience while their bosses were former governors with impressive political resumes but novices when it came to working the gears of the federal government.

But I think the current vice president -- Dick Cheney -- may retire the title, given his vast influence in the Bush administration. He makes his predecessors look like Little Leaguers.

Former member of Congress, former White House chief of staff, former secretary of defense -- Cheney came to the job with a blue-ribbon resume of Washington experience to help out another former governor who had won the presidency.

He is the Bush administration's eminence gris, wielding power behind the scene. In some ways he is also a mystery man, leaving few finger prints on administration policies, as befits a vice president who knows that his job is to help make the boss look good.

The super-secret Bush administration provides scant clues about Cheney's exact roles, though we know that he is the chief hawk in the White House flock and was one of the masterminds of the U.S. attack on Iraq.

Despite his unique position, Cheney has no accountability. He does not hold news conferences. He did go on Sunday talk shows when the administration needed to pile on to justify its surge to war. But he's otherwise invisible to the public.

He still refuses to reveal the names of the people he chose for the White House energy task force -- and you have to wonder why. Was there something to hide?

The public's need to know more about the task force is made more urgent because of the U.S. takeover of the Iraqi oil fields and the recent electrical blackout on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Judicial Watch, the watchdog group that has sued to get this information, was able to spring some documents from the hush-hush Cheney task force and, interestingly, they contained maps of the Iraqi oilfields.

The vice president was in the vanguard of administration officials who pumped up the war with Iraq with scary rhetoric.

Some of his predictions have proven flat wrong -- such as his March 16, 2003, claim on NBC's Meet the Press that Saddam Hussein "has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." The facts now show otherwise. The jury is still out on other near-panic forecasts from the vice president about weapons of mass destruction.

Before the U.S. attack, when the CIA wasn't coming up with the "right" answers about Iraq for the pro-war administration, Cheney visited the agency's headquarters several times apparently to argue with analysts in an efforts to persuade -- pressure? -- them to come to conclusions that supported the administration's prior decision to go to war.

It would be wrong to mistake his quiet and unassuming demeanor as indicating something that he is not. The fact is, Cheney is the big man on campus.

He also is one of the pipelines to the Oval Office for the neo-conservatives who dominate the nation's foreign policy.

Although he has a heart ailment, health-wise, Cheney says he is ready for the 2004 election campaign and hopes for another four years in the vice presidency. Responding to a question at a news conference last November, Bush said he wanted Cheney to be his running mate again in 2004, and that Cheney had accepted. "He's done an excellent job," Bush said.

In the five years before returning to government, he was chief executive for Halliburton Co., a Houston-based oil services engineering and construction firm.

Fast-forward to 2003: Halliburton has been on the ground floor in obtaining some of the lucrative government contracts to rebuild the oil fields in Iraq. Some competitors have dropped out from the first round of bidding, certain that Halliburton with the Cheney connections has the inside track.

Early on there were quips about "President Cheney" and some concern that he was stealing the limelight.

But not to worry, Mr. President, Cheney seems quite content to be the power behind the throne.

Thomas is a Washington, D.C.-based columnist for the Hearst Newspapers. helent@hearstdc.com

Read the Bush and Cheney Quotes below.
They LIED (as usual).

WASHINGTON -- Can we now please admit that the Bush administration's policies in Iraq are a terrible failure?
The terrorist truck bomb that blew up the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad this week also blew up the pretensions of an arrogant strategy that assumed the United States could do nation-building on the cheap. It was an approach that assumed we needed little support from traditional allies, only a limited number of American troops and relatively modest expenditures to rebuild a shattered country.

Perhaps even more disturbing than the administration's indifference to the truth or falsity of the various claims it made before the war is the fact that it seemed to believe its own propaganda. President Bush and Vice President Cheney really thought that if they wished it, it would come -- "it" in this case being not only a quick victory in the war but also a rapid rallying of Iraqis to the American standard afterward.

Last March on "Meet the Press," moderator Tim Russert asked Cheney: "If your analysis is not correct and we're not treated as liberators but as conquerors, and the Iraqis begin to resist, particularly in Baghdad, do you think the American people are prepared for a long, costly, bloody battle with significant American casualties?"

Cheney replied: "Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way, Tim, because I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators."

The vice president said he knew this because he and the president had met with "various groups and individuals, people who have devoted their lives from the outside to trying to change things inside Iraq. ... The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to get rid of Saddam Hussein and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that."

Please look at those sentences again. Note that for its reading of the situation inside Iraq, the administration relied on people who spent their lives outside Iraq. The administration believed the outsiders because the outsiders said what the administration wanted to hear -- and, perhaps, because the administration had no clue as to how people inside Iraq might react.

It's astonishing that Bush and his advisers never seemed to take seriously the obvious possibility: that many, perhaps most, Iraqis -- especially the Shiite Muslim majority so oppressed by Saddam Hussein -- could be perfectly happy to have the United States get rid of their dictator and then want U.S. troops to leave immediately.

And will anyone in the administration ever be held accountable for putting down Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army's chief of staff before the war? Shinseki told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in early March that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be required to occupy a postwar Iraq.

Two days later, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz described Shinseki's estimate as "way off the mark." Cheney was also dismissive. In his "Meet the Press" appearance, he insisted that "to suggest that we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, after the conflict ends, I don't think is accurate. I think that's an overstatement."

It's now clear that the courageous 139,000 American troops in Iraq are insufficient to guarantee security -- including their own. Shinseki was right. Wolfowitz and Cheney were wrong. Will Wolfowitz and Cheney ever apologize to Shinseki?

And consider our president's statement on July 2 in response to a question about attackers targeting our troops. "Bring 'em on," our president declared. "We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation." Mr. President, they're bringing it on.

'Help Is on The Way'

The Nation
Matt Bivens

"To all of our men and women in uniform, and to their parents and families: Help is on the way!" –- Dick Cheney campaigning in the 2000 presidential elections.

Never forget that arrogant pledge. Because first of all, the Clinton-Gore military, as it turns out, was in perfectly fine shape -- fine enough to handle the Taliban in Afghanistan and topple Saddam Hussein. (Though it's had predictable trouble with the peace-keeping side of the coin -- in part because Donald Rumsfeld has moved to close the US Army War College's Peacekeeping Institute and has generally short-shrifted training in that area, in part because even the bravest and most cunning of military outfits can't do much with a stupid mission.)

Now, incredibly, the Help-Is-On-the-Way Pentagon wants to cut the imminent-danger pay of troops in Iraq! Maybe they need to free up cash for bottled water.

When Congress returns after Labor Day, it will have to act fast to counter Pentagon plans to cut danger-pay by $75 a month and family-separation allowances of $150 a month. The Pentagon doesn't want to spend money on such trivia; it says these pay cuts will save $25 million a month. For perspective, that's about 0.6% of the war's monthly cost. Or, if you prefer another comparison: The Pentagon says its proposed pay cuts will save about $300 million this year; which is still less than the $324 million Halliburton listed as second-quarter revenues solely from work in Iraq.

No wonder Army Times is raging at the Administration's nickel-and-dime disdain for its own soldiers. (Team Bush only likes to dress up like soldiers, it doesn't like to pay them.) After news of the Pentagon's pay-cut was broken by the < i>San Francisco Chronicle, an unnamed White House official rushed to tell The New York Times that, while it was true, the president solemnly hopes Congress will overrule the Pentagon. As if the president can't overrule his own executive-branch agency.

What I'm curious about now is whatever happened to that other brilliant Republican idea: the call on patriotic New York police and fire fighters to sacrifice overtime pay so that there'd be enough free cash out there, in a very vague sort of way, for military danger-pay.

Ashcroft Steps in to Protect Cheney

Energy Panel Suit Challenged

Saturday, August 9, 2003; Page A05
Washington Post

The Justice Department urged a federal appeals court yesterday to reconsider the continuation of a lawsuit seeking information about energy industry influence on a White House energy task force led by Vice President Cheney.

The case "presents separation-of-powers questions of exceptional importance" because it would allow groups that filed the lawsuit to discover how President Bush "received advice on important national policy matters from his closest advisers," the Justice Department said in court papers.

A review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is essential, the government said, to resolve conflicts with court rulings in previous cases and to ensure that any president can get "unregulated and uninhibited advice" from advisers, including the vice president.

The Sierra Club and Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog group, say in the lawsuit that energy industry executives effectively became active participants in the drafting of the 2001 energy plan. The administration says the drafting group, led by Cheney, consisted only of government officials.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled last month that the Bush administration had not proved the lawsuit was an unconstitutional intrusion into the operations of the presidency. The lawsuit has been proceeding in a lower court.

Rivals Say Halliburton Dominates Iraq Oil Work
NY Times

The Bechtel Group, one of the world's biggest engineering and construction companies, has dropped out of the running for a contract to rebuild the Iraqi oil industry, as other competitors have begun to conclude that the bidding process favors the one company already working in Iraq, Halliburton.

After the United States Army Corps of Engineers quietly selected Halliburton in the spring to perform early repairs of the Iraqi oil business in the aftermath of the war, other companies and members of Congress protested that the work should have been awarded through competitive bidding.

Halliburton's role in the rebuilding has been under political scrutiny because the company was formerly headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. But the Bush administration and the Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the Iraqi oil reconstruction effort, have repeatedly said that Halliburton has no inside track.

Preliminary plans for a new contract, which industry executives had thought might total $1 billion, were announced late in June by the Corps of Engineers. The bidding was meant, in part, to introduce competition and a sense of fairness into the lucrative Iraqi reconstruction market, an executive with a major engineering concern said. Like many industry executives, he would speak only on condition of anonymity because his company does not want to jeopardize its chances for future government contracts.

But in the last month, the corps, which is overseeing the reconstruction efforts, has specified a timetable for the work that effectively means that the value of any contract companies other than Halliburton could win would be worth only about $176 million, according to Corps of Engineers documents and executives in the engineering and construction business.

Earlier this week, Bechtel cited the timetable as its reason for dropping out of the bidding. The company now plans to deal directly with the Iraqi oil ministry for future reconstruction work, a spokesman, Howard N. Menaker, said.

Although the oil ministry and the Army Corps of Engineers nominally cooperate, industry analysts say the Americans have the upper hand.

Officials of the Corps of Engineers did not return numerous phone calls yesterday seeking comment on the contract. But last month, in response to questions from other companies about Halliburton's role, the corps said on its Web site that all potential bidders had received the same information to "eliminate any competitive advantage" Halliburton might have from its involvement in the Iraqi reconstruction work so far.

A spokeswoman for Halliburton, Wendy Hall, would not discuss whether its engineering unit, Kellogg Brown & Root, would bid, saying only that "we will evaluate the opportunity."

After indicating in June that it planned to solicit bids, the Corps of Engineers held a conference of prospective bidders in Dallas on July 14. Records of the meeting show that it was attended by some of the most experienced engineering and construction companies in the world — including, besides Halliburton and Bechtel, Fluor, the Parsons Group, Schlumberger and Foster Wheeler.

Among those companies, only Fluor and Parsons have indicated so far that they plan to make bids by the Aug. 14 deadline. A winner will be announced by Oct. 15, according to the Corps of Engineers.

At the meeting and in the initial request for proposals, the Corps of Engineers put forth what the industry calls "an indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery" contract. Industry executives said they were told there could in fact be two principal contracts, one for the oil industry in northern Iraq and the other for the south. The value of each contract could range from $500,000 to $500 million over several years, according to the Corps of Engineers, which cited the continued instability in Iraq as a reason for keeping the terms so vague.

A transcript of the July meeting shows that bidders were concerned even then that Halliburton would have a competitive advantage over other companies because it was already working with the Corps of Engineers in Iraq and helping to assess the repairs needed at oil production sites and pipelines after the war and years of an economic embargo.

The corps denied that such a conflict of interest existed, according to the transcript.

Over the last three weeks, however, the Corps of Engineers has provided additional information to bidders indicating that by the July meeting, it and Halliburton already had a fairly clear understanding of the scope and financial value of the work to be done and the timetable for completing it.

The newly released information indicates that a week before the Dallas meeting, the Corps of Engineers and Halliburton participated in a large workshop in Baghdad that also included representatives of the Iraqi oil ministry and the ruling Coalition Provisional Authority to draw up a detailed plan for rebuilding much of the Iraqi oil industry by the end of March 2004.

A week ago, the Corps of Engineers Web site carried an amendment to the contract proposal, saying that 220 projects, mostly at installations above the ground, must be completed for Iraq's oil production to reach prewar levels. The projects are divided into three phases, with a total estimated cost of $1.14 billion.

But the corps notes in the plan that the first two phases, which together would require about $967 million in investments, would have to be completed by Dec. 31.

Halliburton's competitors worry that if the winner of the new contracts is not announced until Oct. 15, that company could not even begin the work before year's end. The only company that could do the work based on that timetable is Halliburton, its competitors say.

Only the third and final phase, worth about $176 million and requiring the work to be completed by March 31, could realistically be performed by a Halliburton competitor, its rivals say.

"The feeling at our company was `Yes, Halliburton is the incumbent, but we had an opportunity there,' " a representative of another engineering concern said. "But if we had believed that from the beginning we had no chance of winning this, we wouldn't have bid."

Responding to pointed questions about the timetable by potential bidders, the Corps of Engineers' Web site said the proposed schedule was "not intended to change anything" about the bidding process.

For its part, the Kellogg Brown & Root unit of Halliburton will do whatever work the corps gives it, Ms. Hall, the spokeswoman, said.

"It is not known at this time how or if the future award of another Corps of Engineers contract will affect current K.B.R. operations or the terms and conditions of its contract," she said.

The first wave of Halliburton employees arrived in Iraq in March, to oversee the extinguishing of several oil well fires near Basra. Since then, its responsibilities, under the direction of the Corps of Engineers, have expanded from its initial job of making emergency repairs.

Working in Iraq has helped turn around Halliburton's financial performance, its second-quarter results showed. The company made a profit of $26 million, in contrast to a loss of $498 million in the period a year earlier. The company stated that 9 percent, or $324 million, of its second-quarter revenue of $3.6 billion came from its work in Iraq.

U.S. companies are operating in Iran

More than 30 U.S. corporations are doing business in Iran despite trade sanctions imposed in 1980.
May 29, 2003: 7:47 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Dozens of U.S. corporations are conducting business in Iran, despite a 1980 trade sanction outlawing U.S. citizens and companies from doing business there.

Importing carpets, caviar, dried fruits and nuts is still legal, but few of these companies fall under these categories.

According to one analyst, there are more than 30 U.S. corporations doing business in Iran through foreign subsidiaries or related companies.

"The business of subsidiaries of U.S. firms being able to maneuver around the U.S. sanctions...even though they're legal...I think that that's starting to rub people the wrong way," Roger Robinson of the Conflict Securities Advisory Group told CNN reporter Chris Huntington .

Vice President Cheney's old firm Halliburton (HAL: Research, Estimates) has an office in the Iranian capital, Tehran. A company spokeswoman told CNN that the subsidiary, Halliburton products and services, helps build drilling rigs in Iran's southern oil field.

Halliburton's main competitors in the oil field industry, Baker Hughes (BHI: Research, Estimates) and Smith International (SII: Research, Estimates), have foreign operations in Iran too.

There's also a Swiss-owned Caterpillar (CAT: Research, Estimates) dealership in Tehran and General Electric's (GE: Research, Estimates) Canadian Unit is working on a huge hydroelectric project there.

All of these companies told CNN that they are in full compliance with U.S. trade laws.

But Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute thinks that companies doing business in Iran are indirectly helping fund terrorism.

"The oil companies are a wholly owned subsidiary of the government...the government is the primary sponsor of terrorism," he said. "Plus they have separate organizations that are used to funnel oil profits and other profits into the terror network."

But the sanctions say that as long as a U.S. entity does not own or manage its foreign subsidiary in Iran, it's perfectly legal.

Halliburton's subsidiary, is registered in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in Dubai, with no Americans on staff.

"If the activities were carried out completely independently of the U.S. operations as part of an ongoing business practices of the foreign subsidiary, that would be all right," said Christopher Myers an attorney with Holland and Knight LLP.

"If they set that company up offshore with the express purpose of avoiding their obligations under US law, that could be illegal."

Enforcing trade sanctions falls under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control, or OFAC, and its rules on Iran are clearly posted on their website.

The OFAC Director Richard Newcomb told CNN's Huntington that his staff is ready to crack down on any U.S. citizen or company that violates the sanctions.

But the penalties for violating the sanctions tend to be modest.

Halliburton paid $15,000 in 1997 to settle a commerce department claim that it was improperly shipping oil field equipment to Iran. At the time, Cheney had just come on as the company's CEO and he was an outspoken critic of the sanctions against Iran.

When CNN inquired about the Bush administration's policy on U.S. corporate interests in Iran the Vice President's office had no comment and directed the station back to the OFAC.

But the pressure on U.S. companies with ties to Iran is building from institutional shareholders.

Pennsylvania now requires its state pension funds to monitor investments for exposure to sponsors of terrorism.

New York City Comptroller William Thompson, who oversees the pension funds for New York City's police force and firefighters, has forced Halliburton and Conoco-Philips to review their business dealings in Iran and Syria.

"Those United States-based companies have to be really concerned and if I were in their shoes I'd take a fast look at the work that I'm doing in these nations and in the end, most of them will make the claim that its not a large piece of their business," said Thompson. "

"Well, since it isn't, get out and get out now."

But he couldn't persuade General Electric to leave.

GE's proxy stated that a review of its business in Iran would be unnecessary because, "We are compliant with U.S. law and regulations which recognize that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies can and will do business in Iran."

For decades U.S. economic interests in Iran have been at odds with national security policy, particularly when oil is involved and for now U.S. corporations have all the legal insulation they need to carry on business as usual in Iran.

Halliburton Milks British Nuclear Submarines for Millions

By Solomon Hughes
Special to CorpWatch
July 25, 2003

Just outside of Plymouth on Britain's south coast are the Devonport royal dockyards, which have maintained ships for the British navy for hundreds of years. For the last three decades these docks have been the home for four nuclear powered "Trident" submarines, each carrying 48 atomic warheads that roam the world's oceans.

In 1997 Tony Blair's Labour government sold the docks to Devonport Management Ltd. (DML) -- a consortium led by Brown and Root, a division of Halliburton, the Texas-based energy services, engineering and construction multinational -- and contracted the new owners to refuel and refit the nuclear engines, which involves stripping and replacing their radioactive parts once a decade.

Halliburton chief executive officer Dick Cheney took a tour of the dockyards in April 2000, following which he met up with Labour ministers and military officials at a conference on military privatisation in Oxford.

"My general impression is that our British colleagues are far ahead of us in the US in the extent to which they have adopted changes in culture, attitude and style of operation that are required for successful privatization efforts," said Cheney, just months before he quit his job at the company to launch a successful bid to become vice-president of the United States.

Not surprisingly Cheney's new job as vice-president has coincided with a major increase in military privatization in the United States with Halliburton profiting handsomely from contracts to supply US troops around the world from Bosnia to Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile Halliburton has allegedly been milking their British colleagues for as much money as they can get. The National Audit Office (NAO) was called in to investigate when Devonport project costs budgeted at $904 million in 1997 increased by over 50% by 2002.

Halliburton claims the British government caused the price-hike, by demanding better safety standards than those in the firm's original tender, stating that "cost increases have been driven by the need to meet nuclear regulatory requirements and the work required being greater than previously experienced."

For example Britain's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate refused to license the dockyard until it was made earthquake-proof by building stronger walls for the docks and by redesigning and strengthening both the cradles that hold the submarines as well as the cranes that lift nuclear flasks out of the submarines. The inspectors also wanted better training for staff and better inspection of work.

The Ministry of Defence demanded that a crash barrier be built around the "central pool" where the submarines were dismantled. Naval official John Coles said the barrier was needed to stop "ships crashing into that building" and releasing radiation.

The British government, on the other hand, argue Halliburton was sloppy with both safety and pricing from the very beginning. The NAO stated it was "clear to the (Naval) Department that the nuclear safety requirement on this project would, from the outset, be stringent."

"The Department considers that DML was slow in putting in place the management processes needed to demonstrate its compliance with those principles and in producing good quality safety cases for the Inspectorate, resulting in less time for the consideration and resolution of the issues raised."

The company vehemently disagrees with the report. A short statement issued by the company states: "DML disagrees that poor performance by itself or its sub-contractors was a major cause of the cost increases as it estimates that such poor performance only increased costs by $30 million."

But the report bears out British Navy worries prior to the privatization that Halliburton was not properly qualified to work on sensitive nuclear projects, stating that "the Department had concerns about DML's ability to manage the project. Initially DML had no experience of managing a major construction project that was subject to civil nuclear safety standards."

When the costs overruns became apparent, lawyers for the Ministry of Defence told them if they took the company to court, "the argument was very much in the Departments favour, and the Department had very good prospects for defeating DML's claim."

But while the Navy were confident of victory in the courts, Halliburton was still able to blackmail millions out of the contract because, in the words of the NAO, the government had "little room for manoeuvre" because they "had nowhere else to go": The Navy could not face "further delays" caused by a court case or finding a replacement.

Court action was rejected "because of the importance of these facilities to the maintenance of the effectiveness of the United Kingdom's strategic nuclear deterrent, the Department could not accept the contracts failure and the resulting late delivery of the facilities". A Parliamentary Committee examining the report said Halliburton had the navy "over a barrel" when it came to asking for more money.

As part of the original 1997 contract Halliburton lawyers negotiated a maximum $55 million maximum liability on the contract, while cost overruns have since risen by five times that amount. Colin Breed, Devonport's member of parliament, who is also the Liberal Democrat party's defence spokesman says: "Both the MoD and the contractor have shown their incompetence in this project. How can the MoD claim it was unaware that it bore the risk when DML had negotiated a get-out clause?"

Halliburton's Devonport has hit controversy in the past. In October 2001 they were fined $94,000 by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for exposing 24 workers to asbestos.

Plymouth Magistrates were told that some of the men affected "already think their days are numbered." The HSE representative said "at the end of the day up to 24 young men must now agonize for 40 years whether at some stage they are going to suffer symptoms of mesothelioma, asbestosis or cancer."

Plymouth residents are also alarmed about plans to allow Halliburton to discharge radioactive tritium into the Tamar river.

Reports from the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate shows that safety problems continue on the refitting of the nuclear submarines. The moving crane which pulls nuclear flasks out of Trident submarines recently crashed into the HMS Vanguard, and "a few liters of slightly radioactive liquid were spilled onto the floor" of the dock.

Despite these cost and safety problems, Britain's Ministry of Defence continues awarding contracts to Halliburton. The firm won a $470 million contract to transport Army tanks right onto the battlefield. The deal even includes a provision to hire and train soldiers for the British army.

This deal had early difficulties when one of the "all terrain" vehicles tipped a $3 million Challenger tank onto its side while performing a 10 mile per hour turn in a carpark before going through its paces for eager defence correspondents. Twenty of these tank transporters went into service at the beginning of July, so that Halliburton-trained soldiers could see service in Iraq.

Halliburton is also leading the consortia which are the government's "preferred bidder" for two major barrack contracts: "Project Aquatrine", a $1.5 billion scheme to look after the army's sewage for 25 years, and a $5 billion scheme to rebuild and run British barracks for 30 years.

[Figures originally given in Pounds Sterling have been adjusted to US Dollars in this report].

Solomon Hughes is an investigative journalist based in the UK.