Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Cheney Hypocritical In Telling Media To Check Facts

WASHINGTON -- Look who's talking.

Vice President Dick Cheney is accusing the press of "cheap shot journalism" in covering the Bush administration, claiming "people don't check the facts."

Cheney is miffed over a raft of stories about his ties to Halliburton Co., a Houston-based energy conglomerate, which is a major recipient of U.S. contracts to rebuild Iraq.

While he's lecturing about accuracy, Cheney should do some fact-checking of his own statements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction weapons. The vice president's prewar chant about such weapons helped lead the nation into war.

Now, despite an intense hunt for that arsenal since the U.S. military took over Iraq last spring, the vice president is having difficulty accepting the reality that those weapons were a fantasy of the administration's prowar hawks.

It appears that even David Kay, who heads the U.S. weapons hunters scouring Iraq, is about to throw in the towel.

Cheney gave his press critique in an interview with conservative commentator Armstrong Williams.

The vice president conceded that a free press is "a vital part of society" but added: "On occasion, it drives me nuts."

What drives him nuts, he continued, is "when I see stories that are fundamentally inaccurate."

"It's the hypocrisy that sometimes arises when some in the press portray themselves as objective observers of the passing scene, when they obviously are not objective," he declared.

"Not everybody is guilty," he said, "but it happens."

Let's see what the vice president is upset about.

Well, for one thing, the news media keep pointing out that Cheney had served for five years as CEO of Halliburton, which has received $5 billion in government contracts -- many of the no-bid variety -- for Iraqi reconstruction.

Cheney still has financial ties to Halliburton, despite his denials. He continues to receive deferred compensation from the company, including payments of about $150,000 in 2001 and $160,000 in 2002. Additional payments are forthcoming.

In addition, the vice president has about 433,000 shares of unexercised Halliburton stock options, due to expire between 2007 and late 2009. Cheney has said he will donate the options to charities. But the options will have value only if Halliburton's stock price improves.

This is the same Halliburton that has been accused by a Pentagon audit of over-billing the U.S. military by $61 million for gasoline.

"There are a lot of people in the press who don't understand the business community," Cheney said. He scoffed that only the administration's political opponents have accused Halliburton of "favoritism" in getting those contracts.

"There is no evidence to support anything like that," Cheney said, "but if you repeat it often enough, it becomes a sort of article of faith."

Cheney could have been explaining his repetitious line to the American public about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. If you repeat it enough, it becomes accepted truth.

In August 2002, Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction, no doubt that he is massing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us."

In the same speech, he warned that Saddam, "armed with an arsenal of weapons of terror, and seated atop 10 percent of the world's oil reserves ... could subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail."

On March 16, the vice president said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "we believe (Saddam) has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Cheney later tried to slide off that statement. He did "misspeak," he said, and that what he really meant to say was that Iraq had "weapons capability," rather than actual weapons.

The vice president's salute to a free press is undercut by his intensive campaign to keep secret the names of those he consulted with when he was designing the administration's energy policy. This information should be in the public domain.

Conservation groups have complained that their views on energy were largely ignored.

Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club have sued for access to that information. A federal court ruled in favor of discovery and the court of appeals agreed. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear his appeal.

Maybe Cheney has forgotten that he no longer works for a private corporation and that, instead, he is a public servant, doing the public's business that should be conducted in the daylight.

Since he took office as vice president, Cheney has operated in the shadows, being very careful not to leave fingerprints.

He has little accountability and zero credibility when it comes to Iraq. He limits his public speeches to conservative groups and Republican fundraisers.

When the administration is pushing its war theme, he is farmed out to the televised Sunday talk shows to repeat his now discredited arguments for war.

And so we catch occasional glimpses of the person many people believe is the real power in the White House.

But when it comes to Cheney's advice to the media, the vice president would be well advised to follow his own recommendations.

We check our facts, Mr. Vice President. You should, too.

Helen Thomas

Senator defends Cheney's pheasant hunt
The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - When Dick Cheney and a hunting party that included several Texas Republicans, among them Sen. John Cornyn, bagged hundreds of ring-necked pheasants at a private hunting club in Pennsylvania last week, animal-rights activists denounced it as a slaughter.

They were especially outraged that the vice president shot more than 70 himself. But Cornyn said Wednesday that the birds had a sporting chance, even if they were farm-raised and released from nets for the hunters.

"It was a good shoot," said Cornyn, who figures he shot dozens of pheasants himself. He conceded that bagging the birds was so easy, at times it seemed "kind of like how Tyson's and Pilgrim's Pride and other people do it. … I must tell you that people don't necessarily hunt the same way in Texas that they hunt in Ligonier, Penn., but it was enjoyable," he said.

Two major Republican donors from Dallas, investor Jeffrey Marcus and investment banker Daniel Cook, hosted the Dec. 8 outing at the exclusive Rolling Rock Club in southwestern Pennsylvania, Cornyn said. Real estate executive and former Dallas Cowboy Roger Staubach was there, too. Marcus declined to discuss the trip; the others did not return phone messages.

Cheney hunts and fishes often, and his excursions rarely attract notice. But on this one, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the 10-man hunting party killed 417 of 500 pheasants released from nets for the morning hunt.

The Humane Society of the United States says that smacks of a mass killing.

"These birds were just planted right in front of this group of hunters. It was a bloodbath and it was a blaze of shotgun fire," said senior vice president Wayne Pacelle.

Cheney is known as a skilled hunter, and The New York Times picked up the story this week, tweaking him as someone who shouldn't need the sort of stacked odds a preserve like Rolling Rock can provide.

Cheney aides did not return messages. Rolling Rock chief operating officer Steve Klee said club policy precludes him from discussing patrons or anything else at the 10,000-acre facility. "I can't talk about the club activities at all," he said.

One dog handler did describe the hunt for WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh last week, though he could not be reached this week and another employee declined to say if he still works there.

"We release pheasants off a hill, and they shoot them. They all stay in their blinds up ahead of us. The other guys like me, we have our dogs and we run them. We stand below [the hunters], and every bird they shoot, our dogs retrieve them," said the handler, Scott Wakefield.

When pheasants are in season, which they weren't last week, Pennsylvania sets a two per-day bag limit. Those rules don't apply at Rolling Rock and the state's 358 other private and commercial hunting clubs.

Deadeye Dick
Wednesday December 17, 2003
The Guardian

At the recent national Thanksgiving day ceremony at the White House, George Bush was in forgiving mood. As is traditional on these occasions, he "pardoned" the official Thanksgiving turkey, called Stars, and its partner, Stripes (the names were chosen in a poll of White House website readers, narrowly squeezing out Pumpkin and Cranberry). As governor of Texas, Mr Bush made a point of not pardoning anybody, including death-row prisoners.
Much the same attitude now applies in Iraq. Turkeys, apparently, are different. Yet the limits of presidential compassion were quickly re-established with a wisecrack at Dick Cheney's expense. Mr Bush explained that Stripes was an "alternate turkey", needed in case the number one turkey, Stars, could not fulfil his role in the ceremony. "It's kind of like being the vice-president."

Mr Cheney is not infrequently the butt of Mr Bush's attempts at humour. All he can do is grit his teeth and pretend to be amused. A sense of helplessness might explain the Veep's resort to butts of a different kind in his favourite hunting grounds of South Dakota and, most recently, at the private Rolling Rock Club in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mr Cheney downed more than 70 ringneck pheasants and an undetermined number of ducks during a shooting spree there last week. Altogether his 10-man party, whose other members remain unidentified, killed 417 birds. Mr Cheney and bulging game-bag then headed back to Arnold Palmer airport in a Humvee.

If shooting defenceless birds can be described as relaxation, it is possible Mr Cheney's expedition was cathartic. After all, he has many worries. His old firm, Halliburton, is accused of profiteering in Iraq. His private contacts with energy industry executives are now subject to a supreme court lawsuit. Far smarter than the present White House incumbent, Mr Cheney harboured presidential ambitions before his heart grew dicky. Perhaps he still does. Silently suffering his boss's unkind jibes, perhaps he secretly dreams of quite a different, higher-value target when he flicks off the safety catch.

Supreme Court to Hear Cheney Energy Case
Mon Dec 15
By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) agreed on Monday to hear Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites)'s arguments for keeping his energy task force papers secret, a battle he has fought in lower courts for more than two years.

The high court said Cheney's Justice Department (news - web sites) lawyers could present a detailed explanation of why he should not have to comply with a federal judge's order last year to produce details of White House contacts with the energy industry.

Justice Department lawyers say Cheney is immune to the court order on constitutional, separation-of-powers grounds.

The environmentalist Sierra Club (news - web sites) and Judicial Watch government watchdog group sued in 2001 to find out the names and positions of members of the energy task force headed by the vice president that year.

They allege that Cheney, a former energy executive, drafted energy policy by consulting industry executives such as Enron Corp.'s Ken Lay, making them effective members of his task force while leaving environmentalists on the outside.

Cheney was chief executive of energy and construction company Halliburton Co. from 1995 to 2000. His 2001 energy task force produced a policy paper calling for more oil and gas drilling and a revived nuclear power program.

Cheney has acknowledged meeting Lay, but his lawyers say the energy task force was comprised of government officials, not corporate chieftains.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in the spring next year, with a decision due by the end of June.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the court's decision to take the case was not surprising "because the executive branch is often given deference. Cases that ought to be left out of court are given a hearing by the justices."

But, Fitton added, "We're confident in the end that the court is going to reject this unprecedented assertion of executive power and executive secrecy."

Sierra Club attorney David Bookbinder said the court's taking the case "will draw attention to the extreme positions the Bush administration has taken, essentially arguing that they are above the law."

There was no immediate reaction from Cheney's office.

Over a year ago, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the White House to either produce documents about the energy task force, or provide a detailed list of the documents it was withholding, and why.

The Bush administration appealed the order, even though the case was not completed in the lower court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals earlier this year refused to step in, saying Cheney did not have legal standing to refuse the judge's order.

The Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites) and other agencies have turned over thousands of pages of documents in the case, but none have come from the White House.

Justice Department lawyers argued that judicial power cannot extend to ordering the executive branch to disclose details about the way the president gets advice -- such as advice on energy policy.

Judicial Watch countered that Cheney's claims to immunity were laughable after a 1997 Supreme Court decision that discovery could proceed against then-President Bill Clinton (news - web sites) in a case brought by sexual-harassment accuser Paula Jones.

Pentagon: Halliburton May Have Overcharged in Iraq

Dec 11, 10:28 pm ET
By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon audit of Halliburton, the oil services firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, found the company may have overbilled the U.S. government by more than $120 million on Iraq contracts, U.S. defense officials said on Thursday.

Defense officials said Halliburton's Kellogg Brown and Root unit, which has denied wrongdoing, may have been overcharged by a Kuwaiti sub-contractor by $61 million for fuel brought into Iraq from Kuwait under a deal signed in March with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

That no-competition deal, which has clocked up about $2 billion in business so far, is set to be replaced by two new, competitively bid contracts to rebuild Iraq's oil sector.

After several delays, a decision on those $2 billion contracts is expected by mid-January and military sources said the audit would likely be considered when Halliburton's proposal was reviewed for the follow-on deals.

Under another KBR 10-year contract to provide logistical support for troops, the auditors found what they deemed a $67 million overcharge for dining facilities throughout the region. The overcharge was denied before taxpayers were billed.

"DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) audits have found some problems that the department is addressing" with KBR, Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon's chief financial officer, said in a written statement.

Halliburton said it was supplying documentation requested by the auditors. "KBR has acted in full accordance with its fiduciary and contractual responsibilities under the contract," said Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall.


A senior defense official said Kellogg Brown and Root may have been paying the Kuwaiti company as much as $2.20 per gallon for unleaded gasoline, compared with $1.18 in other contracts.

KBR is not suspected of improperly pocketing any taxpayer funds in either case but may have failed to ensure its subcontractors performed as required, defense officials said.

In addition to allegations of over-pricing, auditors were also looking into delays in providing details of pricing, a military source told Reuters.

"There are significant issues regarding the timeliness and adequacy of price proposals," the source said.

So far the company has generated about $2 billion in business from the March contract and more than $2 billion from the logistics contract for which it supplies services ranging from delivering mail to doing laundry for U.S. troops.

Democratic lawmakers have complained loudly to the Bush administration about the amount of work given to Halliburton in Iraq and have accused the White House of cronyism because of Cheney's former links to the firm, a claim the vice-president has vigorously denied.

Democratic presidential hopefuls Howard Dean and Wesley Clark sought to make mileage from the audit findings.

Dean, referring to the Bush administration decision to bar Iraq war opponents from bidding on lucrative reconstruction contracts, said in a statement: "Now this president is preventing entire nations from bidding on contracts in Iraq so that his campaign contributors can continue to overcharge American taxpayers."

Clark spokesman Chris Lehane said: "George W. Bush is a president for Big Oil, of Big Oil, and 'buy' Big Oil. He is more concerned about the success of Halliburton than having a success strategy in Iraq."

Iraqis Shut Out of Lucrative Rebuilding Deals
Fri Nov 21, 1:58 PM ET
Peyman Pejman, Inter Press Service

BAGHDAD, Nov 21 (IPS) - U.S. officials have shut Iraqis out of the business of reconstruction contracts, many local businessmen say.

U.S. officials and the contractors working for them favor a few high-profile Iraqi companies they trust, and set excessively high contract standards that most Iraqi companies cannot meet, they say. U.S. officials have reportedly allowed some companies closely associated with the former regime to win lucrative contracts. U.S. officials deny most of the charges. They say some of the frustration comes because Iraqis do not understand legal obligations.

Reconstruction contracts in Iraq (news - web sites) are awarded through three sources: the U.S. Army, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by Paul Bremer. USAID contracts are awarded through the Bechtel Corporation. Army contracts are awarded primarily through the Halliburton Corporation, which Vice President Richard Cheney headed until he moved to the White House. Some CPA contracts are awarded through Halliburton, but it has also signed some of its own agreements.

The total value of the contracts awarded has not been made public, but sources in Baghdad put the figure above $10 billion.

For most Iraqis the two primary ways of learning about new reconstruction contracts are through a website set up by the CPA, and by attending a weekly meeting at the Convention Center in Baghdad. The weekly meetings are organised by Kellog, Brown & Root, engaged by Halliburton to find subcontractors for its work. Several Iraqis say they are frustrated by the process.

"We look at the website, it has some good information about each contract, but not enough," Hend Adnan from an Iraqi engineering company told IPS. "They don't give information over the phone, so you have to come and attend these meetings to know more."

But coming to the meetings does nothing to end the Iraqis' suspicion of the process.

"In colloquial Arabic we say things are done behind doors," says contractor Haidar Abdel Kazem. "You don't 'feel' the contracts, you feel it is decided before they are announced."

Iraqis are often given less than a week to respond to bids, and asked to present lengthy documents.

"They give four, five days," says Abdel Kazem. "How are you going to prepare for it, how are you going to answer it, how are you going to get the answer to them? The period is unreasonable."

And when they do respond properly to the contracts, many say they go home empty-handed.

"I am not happy with their system," says Adnan. "My company has been coming here for four months and has responded to at least 10 bids but has not won anything. You look at the list of the companies that win and see there are a few companies that are always on top of the list."

Other Iraqis complain that U.S. officials have let firms associated with the former regime enrich themselves once more. Two such companies are Boniye & Sons and Mediterranean Global Holdings. The first belongs to an old Iraqi family which had diverse business interests during Saddam's time. The family is widely reputed to have been close to Saddam and his son Uday. The second is a London-based company headed by Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi- British businessman who left Iraq in the early 1980s and has since accumulated a fortune estimated at more than a billion dollars.

The CPA awarded Boniye "a couple of fairly large" construction contracts, says a senior U.S. official.

Auchi is said to have secured a multi-million dollar contract through associates in Baghdad to establish a mobile telephone network for central Iraq, including Baghdad.

Boniye managers could not be reached for comment. They were in Saudi Arabia for the annual Muslim pilgrimage, company officials said.

Officials at Auchi's London headquarters did not respond to emailed questions and numerous phone calls.

The question of fairness in contracting procedures has become a touchy point in Baghdad. It is likely to gain more attention as the United States plans to award about 25 billion dollars in reconstruction contracts next year, CPA officials say. Asked for an official comment, a U.S. spokeswoman said her colleagues in Iraq "have answered questions till they have become blue in the face. You want to trash them too, go ahead." She said Bechtel, KBR and Halliburton now refer all questions on contracting to their headquarters in the United States.

But the officials are more accommodating off the record. They say a part of the dissatisfaction and frustration Iraqis feel is due to misplaced expectations. All three sources of awarding reconstruction contracts receive funds from the U.S. Congress, and they are thus legally obliged to give preference to U.S. companies, they say.

But U.S. companies are encouraged, though not obliged, to hire as many Iraqi subcontractors as possible, the officials say. In USAID contracts, Bechtel and KBR have dished out half their contracts to Iraqis, and plan to increase the figure to 70 percent "soon," a U.S. official familiar with USAID contracts said.

U.S. officials concede that some contracts may have been awarded to companies associated with the previous regime. But they say a company is not tied to the previous regime just because some Iraqis say so.

About the short response period to the contracts, U.S. officials say this is in the nature of the fast turnaround work in Iraq. They say if Iraqis get short notice to respond to bids, U.S. contractors get just that much notice from their bosses.

U.S. officials concede that setting high standards for winning contracts is true for "sophisticated" engineering and construction contracts.

"We are here trying to do a good job and build things that will still be standing 50, 100 years from now," says a U.S. official. "Sorry if we are trying to do too good a job for people who have been deprived of it for so many years."