Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Employees urged to defend Iraq contracts

Suzanne Goldenberg
Monday October 27, 2003
The Guardian

US vice-president Dick Cheney's former employers at the defence contractor Halliburton have called on staff to phone their local newspaper to stem criticism about the firm's activities in Iraq.
The public relations offensive comes at a time of intense public scrutiny of Halliburton, which was awarded billions of dollars in no-bid contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq.

In recent days, congressmen, news organisations and technical experts in Iraq have become increasingly critical of favouritism and corruption in the awarding of contracts.

Such discussions often involve Halliburton and a subsidiary, KBR, which were major benefactors of the Bush administration's policy of awarding reconstruction contracts without a process of competitive tender.

Several congressmen have asked what Halliburton has done with the money from the contracts. Mismanagement and corruption in the rebuilding of Iraq are the topic of this week's cover story in Newsweek magazine.

Among the lucrative business opportunities in Iraq's reconstruction, KBR has been paid $1.59bn (£938.5m) to refurbish Iraq's oil installations. It has also been awarded projects to rebuild Iraqi schools.

In a memo entitled Defending Our Company, dated October 17, Halliburton's president, Dave Lesar, said critics were "distorting our efforts" to restore Iraq's oil industry and provide other services to the US military.

"Now I'm asking you to help by writing a letter to the editor of your newspaper," he wrote, going on to provide talking points about Halliburton's activities.

Mr Lesar's message was leaked to a website called misleader.org, which says it is dedicated to revealing the distortions of the Bush administration. The website said KBR had a history of overcharging the US government for contracts.

The memo was written before it emerged that Halliburton had charged the US-led occupation authority $1.59 a gallon for imported petrol - several times the cost of Iraqi petrol - costing the US taxpayer about $300m.

But it was reminiscent of a public relations offensive by Washington earlier this month in which Mr Bush and others accused the media of screening news from Iraq through a negative filter.

Such similarities are bound to be of interest to critics of the reconstruction effort. Officially, Mr Cheney severed his links to Halliburton when he ran for election in 2000. But Democrats have questioned whether the Bush administration has shown favouritism to the Houston-based firm.

Post a Comment