Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

Cheney Praises Fox News Channel
Vice President Calls Network 'More Accurate' Than Others

By Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 30, 2004; Page A05

Vice President Cheney endorsed the Fox News Channel during a conference call last night with tens of thousands of Republicans who were gathered across the country to celebrate a National Party for the President Day organized by the Bush-Cheney campaign.

Fox News styles its coverage as "fair and balanced," but it has a heavy stable of conservative commentators that makes it a favorite around the White House. It is unusual for a president or vice president to single out a commercial enterprise for public praise.

The comment came as Cheney took questions from supporters at 5,245 parties that were held in 50 states to energize grass-roots volunteers building a precinct-by-precinct army for President Bush's campaign.

"It's easy to complain about the press -- I've been doing it for a good part of my career," Cheney said. "It's part of what goes with a free society. What I do is try to focus upon those elements of the press that I think do an effective job and try to be accurate in their portrayal of events. For example, I end up spending a lot of time watching Fox News, because they're more accurate in my experience, in those events that I'm personally involved in, than many of the other outlets."

Cheney, who recently was chosen by Bush's aides to address the National Rifle Association's national convention, is the leading ambassador to conservatives for the campaign and the administration. The vice president spoke live shortly after 8:30 p.m.

Cheers could be heard erupting behind an insurance representative from Johnson County, Iowa, as she began asking Cheney her question. She complained about "the inconsistencies that we see in the media" and asked him to "clarify some of the things that are happening in Iraq that really are good but just never get through the media."

Cheney told the questioner he has "experienced the same kind of frustration you have."

"The fact is that we spend a lot of time talking to a broad range of people out there to make sure we've got a good fix on what's going on," Cheney said. "You can't simply rely just upon the press coverage. The situation today is clearly -- we've made enormous progress when you think about where we came from a little over a year ago. Saddam Hussein was in power. Tonight, he's in jail. His sons are dead. The government is gone. It's been taken down. The extent to which you had a regime there that hosted terrorists over the years and also pursued and used weapons of mass destruction -- that's all been dramatically changed."

Campaign manager Ken Mehlman opened the call by saying : "Our opponent, John Kerry, has a very different approach than going after the terrorists and continuing forward on economic recovery." Mehlman said the participants can "set up future parties for the president at any time, for any day of your choosing" and said the campaign will organize another nationwide party in mid-July.

Hosts were sent packets that included volunteer signup sheets, bumper stickers, and a video message and letter from Bush. Some organizers served refreshments in their homes, and others hosted events in restaurants, churches and community centers. The roster included 420 parties in Florida, 286 in Pennsylvania, 199 in Missouri, 197 in Wisconsin and 157 in Iowa.

Kerry, a Massachusetts senator, has announced a National House Party Day for May 22.

Cheney aide now lobbyist on energy
By Susan Milligan and Maud S. Beelman, Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent | April 25, 2004

WASHINGTON -- The executive director of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, whose closed-door meetings with industry executives enraged environmentalists and prompted a Supreme Court showdown this week, became an energy lobbyist just months after leaving the White House, records show.

Andrew Lundquist, a native Alaskan who worked on Capitol Hill for both his state's senators, shepherded the development of the administration's energy policy as executive director of the National Energy Policy Development Group, a Cabinet-level task force chosen by President Bush and headed by Cheney.

When the task force completed its work, Lundquist stayed on at the White House as Cheney's energy policy director, leading the vice president's effort to turn the task force's work into law.

Then, a day after leaving government service, he opened a consulting business. Nine months later, Lundquist was a registered lobbyist for companies that stood to benefit from the energy policy he helped craft, according to 2003 lobby disclosure records reviewed by the Globe.

Lundquist's corporate clients -- who paid him more than $300,000 in 2003 -- included:

Japan's Toshiba Corp., which is seeking to build a small, new-generation nuclear reactor in Alaska and would benefit from the administration's proposed extension of laws reducing corporate liability for injuries or death caused by nuclear accidents.

British Petroleum, which stands to benefit from a $16.3 billion Alaskan natural gas pipeline that was promised government loan guarantees worth $2 billion in the pending energy legislation.

Kennecott Energy Co., a coal-mining concern in Wyoming that would benefit from a plan to loosen proposed mercury pollution rules for coal-fired power plants.

Duke Energy Corp., which helped secure a provision inserted in the energy legislation repealing a Depression-era law banning public utilities from making speculative investments, a law intended to protect rate payers from costly bankruptcies.

Lobby records show Lundquist served as the energy task force executive director from Feb. 1, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2001, then stayed on as Cheney's director of energy policy from Oct. 1, 2001, to March 26, 2002 -- during which time he worked with Congress as it drafted the landmark energy legislation, the nation's first comprehensive energy policy in more than a decade.

The resulting bill stalled in Congress in late 2003 after a Democrat-led filibuster, but proponents have resubmitted it for further consideration this year.

Lundquist's behind-the-scenes role as policy coordinator, vice presidential aide, and ultimately as a lobbyist for energy companies highlights some of the concerns that have led consumer groups to seek the opening of the task force's records.

Environmental groups contend the task force met with companies seeking benefits under the bill but did not grant equal access to people challenging those positions.

Cheney has refused to release the records. When a federal judge agreed to allow some records to be reviewed in the discovery process, Cheney did not comply, pushing the case all the way to the US Supreme Court, which will hear it on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, another environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, drew on the fact that Lundquist was paid by the Department of Energy to seek his task force records under the Freedom of Information Act, which covers the department. When a court ordered the records released, the administration again refused, putting Lundquist in the middle of the administration's battle over the secrecy of its energy dealings.

As both cases move through the court system, Lundquist's lobbying reports, reviewed by the Globe, provide one of the few windows into the process surrounding the making of energy policies that could affect the nation for decades to come.

Government ethics law prohibits a former senior government employee from lobbying his former department or agency for one year.

''The purpose of this one-year 'cooling-off' period is to allow for a period of adjustment to new roles for the former senior employee and the agency he served, and to diminish any appearance that government decisions might be affected by the improper use by an individual of his former senior position," explained a February 2000 memorandum by the Office of Government Ethics.

Lundquist's position qualified him as a ''senior" government employee, according to documents reviewed by the Globe, but the lobby reports do not make clear whether he contacted his most recent former offices -- the White House and the Energy Department -- within the one-year prohibition.

Lundquist registered as a lobbyist as of Jan. 1, 2003, nine months after leaving the White House. In the filings, he named both the Executive Office of the President and the Energy Department as targets of his lobbying, along with the Senate, House, and Environmental Protection Agency.

The disclosure forms cover lobbying activity over six-month periods. So it is not clear when exactly Lundquist lobbied the Executive Office of the President and the Energy Department between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2003. He would have violated the law only if he approached them during the first three months of that period.

Lundquist, 43, declined requests for an interview, and said in a statement, ''I wouldn't have considered lobbying the vice president or the Department of Energy within a year. It just didn't happen."

Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems said he could not say when Lundquist lobbied the Executive Office of the President, adding, ''the EOP is a huge place."

By the time Lundquist left the White House, the negotiations over the 1,200-page energy bill had switched to another of his former work venues: Capitol Hill. As a former staffer to the chairmen of both the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the panels most critical to shapers of energy policy, Lundquist was uniquely positioned to lobby Congress for specific provisions in the highly complex bill.

At that time, Republican senators and congressmen were working behind the scenes to craft a bill acceptable to GOP majorities in both houses, and to the administration. And rather than simply melding the House and Senate versions of the bill, as is the usual practice, the conference committee was adding provisions that had appeared in neither version of the bill, making access to the process even more crucial than usual.

Lundquist offered a bonanza to potential clients: he had been involved in crafting the overall policy in the White House, he knew how to write legislation, and he had longstanding contacts with the people who would be creating and voting on the final package.

But Lundquist's quickly shifting roles, combined with the secrecy of a process that environmental and public interest groups could not penetrate, leaves many government ethics specialists concerned.

''Certainly, it's not in the spirit of the law, and it certainly looks like a serious conflict of interest and a classic case of revolving door," James A. Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, said of Lundquist's role. ''It has the perception that he's taking advantage of his public service for personal benefit and for the benefit of his clients. And, of course, that's what this law is about. It's about keeping people from taking advantage, immediately taking advantage of their public service, for private gain. That's what I mean by the spirit of the law."

The Lundquist Group is based in a posh office building perched kitty-corner from the Capitol. Other lobbyists are in the building, including Joe Allbaugh, a close friend of the president, with whom Lundquist shares an office suite.

''Since many of these tenants make regular trips to lobby their powerful neighbors across the street, we're proud to think of the 15 custom elevators that we fabricated for the building as the first stage in the journey towards the creation of new laws," the Gunderlin company, manufacturer of the building's elevator cabs, states on its website.

As of Jan. 1, 2003, according to the records, Lundquist was representing five energy-related companies. In addition to Toshiba and Duke Energy of Charlotte, N.C., they were Ion America Corp., a fuel cell technology company, and Real Energy Inc., a combined heat and power company, both based in California; and TXU Corp., an energy company headquartered in Dallas. Lundquist stopped representing Duke and Real Energy later in 2003, the records show.

Later that year, he picked up Kennecott, BP, and the state of Alaska.

Lundquist and his colleagues -- Kjersten Drager, who also worked on the White House energy task force, and Howard Useem, who worked with him on Capitol Hill -- lobbied primarily on the comprehensive energy bill. Drager and Useem declined to comment.

In all, The Lundquist Group reported receiving about $330,000 in lobbying income in 2003. The figures are rounded to the nearest $20,000 or listed as ''less than $10,000," so precise amounts are not available.

Lundquist was one of an army of lobbyists and could not claim sole credit for items that made their way into energy legislation or federal regulations, but his clients fared well, according to a Globe review of their legislative agendas.

The state of Alaska won a legislative battle to run a natural-gas pipeline from Prudhoe Bay in the north down to the Alaskan-Yukon border, and secured a commitment of federal loan guarantees worth $2 billion. The energy bill specifically prohibits running the pipeline west-east through Canada, a shorter route that investors say would also be cheaper.

For Duke Energy and Real Energy, Lundquist's reports state that he was lobbying on the Public Utilities Holding Company Act of 1935, a statute that restricts the kind of investments utilities can make. Power companies have been fighting for years to get the law repealed, and the energy package does just that.

But some consumer advocates insist the law is needed to avoid huge energy monopolies and to keep the flow of energy secure.

''The only thing between us and an oil, electric, and natural gas cartel is PUHCA," said Lynn Hargis, a former energy industry lawyer who now works for Public Citizen, a consumer group.

The industry contends the law, which also includes a host of other regulations and controls, actually damages the reliability of the energy supply by limiting investment.

''It's long been viewed as a fairly antiquated and unnecessary statute that has outlived its usefulness," said Peter Sheffield, a spokesman for Duke Energy.

Lundquist represented both TXU Corp. and Kennecott Energy on mercury emissions issues, according to the lobbying records. Both the administration's ''Clear Skies Initiative," which is languishing on Capitol Hill, and pending EPA regulations would weaken a negotiated agreement on the emission of mercury, a pollutant found to cause fetal damage and other health problems, and delay the compliance deadline for rules controlling mercury pollution.

Coal and power companies want the rules eased because of the cost of cleaning up sites that are saturated with mercury. In the highly competitive electricity market, an easing of the cleanup rules would boost the entire coal industry.

''As a coal company, the power plants are our business; that is 99.5 percent of our business. It was strategically very important to us," said Patricia Britton, a Kennecott vice president, in explaining the company's interest in power plant emission rules.

Ion America did not respond to Globe inquiries, but Lundquist's lobbying report lists renewable energy funding and fuel cell/hydrogen funding among topics on which he lobbied. The pending Senate energy bill would provide $2.1 billion to develop hydrogen fuel-powered cars.

Toshiba paid Lundquist $80,000 in 2003 to lobby on nuclear issues, as well as to ''promote advanced nuclear reactor approval & construction," his filings show.

Toshiba, a leader in Japan's nuclear power industry, hopes to build a small, new-technology reactor in Galena, Alaska, said Doug Rosinski, a Washington, D.C., attorney representing the Alaska town of 700.

While the reactor is not mentioned in the energy legislation, Toshiba would benefit from provisions in the bill to extend liability protection to new plants.

Further, Lundquist's extensive Alaska connections would be helpful to Toshiba in its efforts to gain support for its reactor, said staffers on Capitol Hill. Efforts to reach Toshiba in Tokyo and New York were unsuccessful.

Lundquist also lobbied for British Petroleum on the Alaska natural gas pipeline. BP, which is involved in oil production in Alaska, has natural gas sitting on top of its oil reserves that could be sold if it could be transported, said Anna Aurilio, legislative director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, or Masspirg.

Aurilio said she finds the revolving door between policy making and lobbying deeply unfair.

''The bottom line is he represented the interests of the White House, and now he's representing their interests outside the White House," she said.

Stuart Gilman, president of the Ethics Resource Center, a nonprofit research group, and a former senior official at the US Office of Government Ethics, said the Lundquist case raises concern about appearances, regardless of the legality.

''I think you always, as a public official, need to worry about the appearance," he said. ''Being insensitive to that ultimately leads to a great deal of cynicism on the part of citizens."

Marc Shechtman of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Justices weigh release of energy documents
By Joan Biskupic, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider whether Vice President Cheney must release internal documents that detail the membership of a task force that met privately while helping to form President Bush's energy plan.

Vice President Cheney is fighting two groups' attempt to find out who was on the White House's energy task force.

Congressional Democrats and environmental groups have said that the energy plan, which was announced nearly three years ago, placed too much emphasis on increasing production of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, and not enough on conservation. (Related story: Scalia scoffs at notion he's biased toward Cheney)

The critics have complained that the administration invited energy industry leaders and big Republican campaign donors to take part in the task force but excluded people who would have opposed Bush's emphasis on energy production. The case that comes before the justices reflects increasing public concern over government secrecy and the stealthy influence of wealthy lobbyists.

The case also arises amid increasing election-year rhetoric: Democrats have tried to use Cheney's resistance to disclosing the records to complain about an overall pattern of secrecy shrouding administration actions, and to suggest that the White House secretly devised a plan to appease its friends in the energy industry.

Justice Department lawyers are appealing a lower court order that would force Cheney to disclose some documents about the internal workings of the task force — which is known as the National Energy Policy Development Group — so that its true membership can be determined. The task force was set up by President Bush soon after he took office in 2001. It was officially made up of certain Cabinet officers and agency heads.

In the consolidated lawsuit now at the high court, Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, and the Sierra Club, a liberal environmental organization, allege that by adding private citizens as unofficial members, the task force fell under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The act requires such government committees to make their membership "fairly balanced in terms of points of view" and to hold meetings in public.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered Cheney and other officials to turn over certain documents that would reveal whether private citizens had participated in meetings to the point that they effectively became members of the task force and triggered the FACA requirements.

Cheney refused to comply with the order. Government lawyers argued that to make even preliminary disclosures would violate the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and judiciary branches.

Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit spurned a Cheney appeal and refused to interfere with the order.

In a 1993 controversy over the health care task force led by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, the D.C. court said that FACA requirement can apply to such a task force if private citizens have significant roles in it.

The Bush administration rejects any comparison between the two task forces. It says the Clinton health-care group "expressly included non-governmental advisers" but the Cheney energy task force was "categorically established by the president to be composed exclusively of government officials."

The question in the Cheney case is whether the lower court's order treads on executive power.

"This case presents fundamental separation-of-powers questions," U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson said in his brief to the justices. Olson says that judges should not be able to force the president or vice president to reveal with whom they met. He said "the president's ability to communicate freely with ... advisers" is at stake.

Olson said that the FACA law should be interpreted to ban the disclosure of the task force's internal documents and that "if FACA does require the kind of judicial inquiry approved by the courts below, then it is unconstitutional."

Washington lawyer Alan Morrison, who will represent the Sierra Club before the Supreme Court, countered in a speech last week that "the American people have the right to know if private individuals in effect become government officials."

In his legal brief, Morrison said the Supreme Court should find that no grounds exist to intervene at this early stage of the dispute over the energy panel's deliberations.

The document request, Morrison says, is for "the basic information needed to determine ... whether non-government persons participated in the work of the task force and ... to what extent."

Washington lawyer Paul Orfanedes, who works for Judicial Watch, will represent that group. He said in his brief to the justices that Judicial Watch is seeking only the information needed to determine whether private individuals were on the task force.

The group characterizes the disclosure ordered by the lower courts as minimal and says it would not disrupt the usual separation of the branches of government.


by Contributor
Steve Johnson
Holiday, FL.
100% permanent & total disabled, combat wounded
Viet Nam Veteran
9th Infantry Division
Mekong Delta

For "lack" of a proper "plan" these are the facts! For the Bush administration the "occupation" of Iraq is a disaster, and the underlying root cause was created more than 13 years ago by then Secretary of defense Richard Cheney under George H.W. Bush after Desert Storm when he "reduced" the combat capability of units in the U.S. Army by more than 25% (TWENTY FIVE PERCENT!)--***(see note below).

We now have the United States government involved full bore into the apparent sinister, devious and outright despicable plan with "motives" set up by Cheney & company during the first Bush 1 adminisistration. Their "motive"......GREED---GREED---and more GREED!

Privatization of the military! ###

***Under Cheney, the budgets proposed and the final outcomes followed patterns similar to the FY 1990 budget experience. Early in 1991 the secretary unveiled a plan to reduce military strength by the mid-1990s to 1.6 million, compared to 2.2 million when he entered office. In his budget proposal for FY 1993, his last one, Cheney asked for termination of the B-2 program at 20 aircraft, cancellation of the Midgetman, and limitations on advanced cruise missile purchases to those already authorized.

When introducing this budget, Cheney complained that Congress had directed Defense to buy weapons it did not want, including the V-22, M-1 tanks, and F-14 and F-16 aircraft, and required it to maintain some unneeded reserve forces. His plan outlined about $50 billion less in budget authority over the next 5 years than the Bush administration had proposed in 1991.

Over Cheney's four years as secretary of defense, encompassing budgets for fiscal years 1990-93, DoD's total obligational authority in current dollars declined from $291.3 billion to $269.9 billion.

Except for FY 1991, when the TOA budget increased by 1.7 percent,(due to the Gulf War) the Cheney budgets showed negative real growth: -2.9 percent in 1990, -9.8 percent in 1992, and -8.1 percent in 1993. During this same period total military personnel declined by 19.4 percent, from 2.202 million in FY 1989 to 1.776 million in FY 1993. The Army took the largest cut, from 770,000 to 572,000-25.8 percent of its strength. The Air Force declined by 22.3 percent, the Navy by 14 percent, and the Marines by 9.7 percent.

Going Global

In 1991, the Pentagon, then under Cheney's direction, paid Brown & Root $3.9 million to produce a classified report detailing how private companies -- like itself -- could help provide logistics for American troops in potential war zones around the world.

Later in 1992, the Pentagon gave the firm an additional $5 million to update its report. That same year, the company won a five-year logistics contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work alongside American GIs in places like Zaire, Haiti, Somalia, Kosovo, the Balkans, and Saudi Arabia.

According to data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, between 1992 and 1999 the Pentagon paid Brown & Root over $1.2 billion for its work in trouble spots around the globe. In May of 1999, the Army Corps of Engineers re-enlisted the company's help in the Balkans, giving it a new five-year contract worth $731 million. On top of that, the company was recently hired by the State Dept. to do a $100 million security upgrade on American embassies and consulates around the world.

When Cheney arrived at Halliburton, the company was doing less than $300 million per year in business with the Defense Department. By last year, according to the Baltimore Sun, that figure had grown to more than $650 million. During that same time period, the amount of money the company spent on lobbying soared. In 1996, Halliburton was spending less than $300,000 per year on lobbyists. Last year it spent $600,000.

Cheney also helped the company obtain federally subsidized loans, loan guarantees, and insurance. In the five years prior to Cheney's arrival, Brown & Root garnered about $100 million in loans and guarantees from the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, two government agencies that sponsor overseas development by American companies. Since 1995, the company has received $1.5 billion worth of assistance from those same two entities.

Some critics believe Cheney's trips through the revolving door between government and business are improper.

Halliburton is everywhere, including places that the U.S. government claims it does not want its citizens to go. Libya's Muhamar Ghadafi contracted for hundreds of millions of dollars in Halliburton services.

Its biggest client is the U.S. Army. According to Newsweek (May 23, 2002) Halliburton's Brown & Root division "has provided the bulk of logistics services for the Army since 1992. Whenever US troops venture abroad, Brown and Root builds the barracks, cooks the food, mops the floors, transports the goods and maintains the water systems before and after the soldiers arrive. ... Brown and Root provides the Pentagon with a private battalion of engineers, janitors and other support staff."

Brown & Root is a subsidiary of the Halliburton Company, the Dallas-based oil services conglomerate that until July 25, 2000 employed Richard Cheney as chairman of its executive board and CEO. Cheney has used his association with Halliburton and Brown & Root to enrich himself and gain political power.

Shortly before he went public accepting the Vice-Presidential nomination for G.W. Bush, Halliburton announced that it was giving Cheney a retirement package worth more than $33.7 million. That comes on top of more than $10 million Cheney has earned in salary, bonuses, and stock options at Halliburton since 1995. In return for his pay, Cheney has helped the company attract government contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Those contracts helped Brown & Root become a global construction powerhouse that today employs 20,000 people and operates in more than 100 countries.

Richard Cheney was Halliburton CEO and largest individual shareholder when he left to take charge of George Bush.

His business is war, and he will shape U.S. policy to achieve it.

Halliburton will get a large chunk of the billions of dollars cost of maintaining the troops that invaded and occupy Iraq, and the lion's share of rebuilding the infrastructure, afterwards. His actions as Defense Secretary in the 1990s' have paved the way for the current "under-manning"---"under-staffing"----and increased danger for our troops now in Iraq.

And, even more disgusting, his ability to PROFIT from that by having "private" security firms make up a growing portion of the forces required to "secure" the aftermath of BUshs' War!


April 19, 2004

Security Companies: Shadow Soldiers in Iraq


*This article was reported by David Barstow, James Glanz, Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Kate Zernike and was written by Mr. Barstow.

They have come from all corners of the world. Former Navy Seal commandos from North Carolina. Gurkas from Nepal. Soldiers from South Africa's old apartheid government. They have come by the thousands, drawn to the dozens of private security companies that have set up shop in Baghdad. The most prized were plucked from the world's elite special forces units. Others may have been recruited from the local SWAT team.

But they are there, racing about Iraq in armored cars, many outfitted with the latest in high-end combat weapons. Some security companies have formed their own "Quick Reaction Forces," and their own intelligence units that produce daily intelligence briefs with grid maps of "hot zones." One company has its own helicopters, and several have even forged diplomatic alliances with local clans.

Far more than in any other conflict in United States history, the Pentagon is relying on private security companies to perform crucial jobs once entrusted to the military. In addition to guarding innumerable reconstruction projects, private companies are being asked to provide security for the chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer III, and other senior officials; to escort supply convoys through hostile territory; and to defend key locations, including 15 regional authority headquarters and even the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad, the center of American power in Iraq.

With every week of insurgency in a war zone with no front, these companies are becoming more deeply enmeshed in combat, in some cases all but obliterating distinctions between professional troops and private commandos. Company executives see a clear boundary between their defensive roles as protectors and the offensive operations of the military.

But more and more, they give the appearance of private, for-profit militias — by several estimates, a force of roughly 20,000 on top of an American military presence of 130,000.

"I refer to them as our silent partner in this struggle," Senator John W. Warner, the Virginia Republican and Armed Services Committee chairman, said in an interview.

The price of this partnership is soaring. By some recent government estimates, security costs could claim up to 25 percent of the $18 billion budgeted for reconstruction, a huge and mostly unanticipated expense that could delay or force the cancellation of billions of dollars worth of projects to rebuild schools, water treatment plants, electric lines and oil refineries.

In Washington, defense experts and some leading experts are raising alarms over security companies' growing role in Iraq.
"Security in a hostile fire area is a classic military mission," Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a member of the Armed Service committee, wrote last week in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed by 12 other senators. "Delegating this mission to private contractors raises serious questions."

The extent and strategic importance of the alliance between the Pentagon and the private security industry has been all the more visible with each surge of violence. In recent weeks, commandos from private security companies fought to defend coalition authority employees and buildings from major assaults in Kut and Najaf, two cities south of Baghdad. To the north, in Mosul, a third security company repelled a direct assault on its headquarters. In the most publicized attack, four private security contractors were killed in an ambush of a supply convoy in Fallujah.

The Bush administration's growing dependence on private security companies is partly by design. Determined to transform the military into a leaner but more lethal fighting force, Mr. Rumsfeld has pushed aggressively to outsource tasks not deemed essential to war-making. But many Pentagon and authority officials now concede that the companies' expanding role is also a result of the administration's misplaced optimism about how Iraqis would greet American reconstruction efforts.

The authority initially estimated that security costs would eat up about 10 percent of the $18 billion in reconstruction money approved by Congress, said Capt. Bruce A. Cole of the Navy, a spokesman for the authority's program management office.

But after months of sabotage and insurgency, some officials now say a much higher percentage will go to security companies that unblushingly charge $500 to $1,500 a day for their most skilled operators.

"I believe that it was expected that coalition forces would provide adequate internal security and thus obviate the need for contractors to hire their own security," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the new inspector general of the authority. "But the current threat situation now requires that an unexpected, substantial percentage of contractor dollars be allocated to private security."

"The numbers I've heard range up to 25 percent," Mr. Bowen said in a telephone interview from Baghdad. Mark J. Lumer, the Pentagon official responsible for overseeing Army procurement contracts in Iraq, said he had seen similar estimates.

But Captain Cole said that the costs were unlikely to reach that level and that the progress of reconstruction would hopefully eventually alleviate the current security problems.

Still, in many ways the accelerating partnership between the military and private security companies has already outrun the planning for it.

There is no central oversight of the companies, no uniform rules of engagement, no consistent standards for vetting or training new hires. Some security guards complain bitterly of being thrust into combat without adequate firepower, training or equipment. There are stories of inadequate communication links with military commanders and of security guards stranded and under attack without reinforcements.

Only now are authority officials working to draft rules for private security companies. The rules would require all the companies to register and be vetted by Iraq's Ministry of Interior. They would also give them the right to detain civilians and to use deadly force in defense of themselves or their clients. "Fire only aimed shots," reads one proposed rule, according to a draft obtained by The New York Times.

Several security companies have themselves been pressing for the rules, warning that an influx of inexperienced and small companies has contributed to a chaotic atmosphere. One company has even enlisted a former West Point philosopher to help it devise rules of conduct.

"What you don't need is Dodge City out there any more than you've already got it," said Jerry Hoffman, chief executive of Armor Group, a large security company working in Iraq. "You ought to have policies that are fair and equal and enforceable."

Some military leaders are openly grumbling that the lure of $500 to $1,500 a day is siphoning away some of their most experienced Special Operations people at the very time their services are most in demand.

Pentagon and coalition authority officials said they had no precise tally of how many private security guards are being paid with government funds, much less how many have been killed or wounded. Yet some Democrats and others suggest that the Bush administration is relying on these companies to both mask the cost of the war and augment an overstretched uniformed force.
Mr. Rumsfeld has praised the work of security companies and disputed the idea that they were being pressed into action to make up for inadequate troop levels.

Still, the government recently advertised for a big new contract — up to $100 million to guard the Green Zone in Baghdad.

"The current and projected threat and recent history of attacks directed against coalition forces, and thinly stretched military force, requires a commercial security force that is dedicated to provide Force Protection security," the solicitation states.

Danger Zones: Rising Casualties and Deal Making

The words did not match the images from Iraq.

At a Philadelphia conference last week, a government official pitched the promise of Iraq to dozens of business owners interested in winning reconstruction contracts.

William H. Lash III, a senior Commerce Department official, said Baghdad was flowering, that restaurants and hotels were reopening. He told of driving around Baghdad and feeling out of place wearing body armor among ordinary Iraqis. In any case, he joked, the armor "clashed with my suit," so he took it off.

But the view from Iraq is considerably less optimistic, with contracting companies and allied personnel alike hunkering down in walled-off compounds. "We're really in an unprecedented situation here," said Michael Battles, co-founder of the security company Custer Battles. "Civilian contractors are working in and amongst the most hostile parts of a conflict or postconflict scenario."

One measure of the growing danger comes from the federal Department of Labor, which handles workers' compensation claims for deaths and injuries among among contract employees working for the military in war zones.

Since the start of 2003 , contractors have filed claims for 94 deaths and 1,164 injuries. For all of 2001 and 2002, by contrast, contractors reported 10 deaths and 843 injuries.

No precise nation-by-nation breakdown is yet available, but Labor Department officials said an overwhelming majority of the cases since 2003 were from Iraq.

With mounting casualties has come the exponential growth of the little-known industry of private security companies that work in the world's hot spots. In Iraq, almost all of them are on the United States payroll, either directly through contracts with government agencies or indirectly through subcontracts with companies hired to rebuild Iraq.

Global Risk Strategies, one of the first security companies to enter Iraq, now has about 1,500 private guards in Iraq, up from 90 at the start of the war. The Steele Foundation has grown to 500 from 50. Erinys, a company barely known in the security industry before the war, now employs about 14,000 Iraqis.

In many cases companies are adapting to the dangers of Iraq by replicating the tactics they perfected on Special Forces teams. One, Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group, has recruited Iraqi informants who provide intelligence that helps the company assess threats, said Michael A. Janke, the company's chief operating officer.

The combination of a deadly insurgency and billions of dollars in aid money has unleashed powerful market forces in the war zone. New security companies aggressively compete for lucrative contracts in a frenzy of deal making.

"A lot of firms have put out a shingle, and they're not geared to operate in that environment," said Mr. Hoffman, the Armor Group chief executive.

One security company, the Steele Foundation, recently turned down an $18 million contract for a corporation that wanted a security force deployed within only a few days; Steele said it simply could not find enough qualified guards so quickly. Another company promptly jumped at the contract.

"They just throw bodies at it," said Kenn Kurtz, Steele's chief executive officer.

Early on in the war, private security contractors came mostly from elite Special Operations forces. It is a small enough world that checking credentials was easy. But as demand has grown, so has the difficulty of finding and vetting qualified people.

"At what point do we start scraping the barrel?" asked Simon Faulkner, chief operating officer of Hart, a British security company. "Where are these guys coming from?"

When four guards working for a subcontractor hired by Erinys were killed in an attack in January, they were revealed to be former members of apartheid-era security forces in South Africa. One had admitted to crimes in an amnesty application to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission there. "We were very alarmed," said Michael Hutchings, the chief executive of Erinys Iraq. "We went back to our subcontractors and told them you want to sharpen up on your vetting."

Troops and Guards: Distinctions Are Hard to Keep

For private security contractors, the rules of engagement are seemingly simple. They can play defense, but not offense. In fact, military legal experts say, they risk being treated as illegal combatants if they support military units in hostile engagements.

"We have issued no contracts for any contractor to engage in combat," Mr. Lumer, the Army procurement official.

What has happened, Mr. Lumer said in an interview, is that the Pentagon has, to a "clearly unprecedented" degree, relied on security companies to guard convoys, senior officials and coalition authority facilities.

But in Iraq, insurgents ignore distinctions between security guards and combat troops. And what is more, they have made convoys and authority buildings prime targets. As a result, security contractors have increasingly found themselves in pitched battles, facing rocket-propelled grenades, not jaywalkers.

It is in those engagements, several security executives said, that the distinctions between defense and offense blur most. One notable example came two weeks ago, when eight security contractors from Blackwater USA helped repel a major attack on a coalition authority building in Najaf. The men fired thousands of rounds, and then summoned Blackwater helicopters for more.

In an interview, Patrick Toohey, vice president for government relations at Blackwater, grappled for the right words to describe his men's actions. At one moment he spoke proudly of how the Blackwater men "fought and engaged every combatant with precise fire." At another he insisted that his men had not been engaged in combat at all. "We were conducting a security operation," he said.

"The line," he finally said, "is getting blurred."

And it is likely to get more blurred, with private security companies lobbying for permission to carry heavier weapons.

"We will keep pressing for that," said Mr. Faulkner, the Hart executive — especially after four of his men spent 14 hours on a roof of their building in Kut fighting off 10 times as many insurgents. Another Hart employee was killed in the assault, his body later dismembered by the mob.

"I cannot accept a situation where four of our people are being besieged by 40 or 60 Iraqis, where they're talking to me on a telephone saying, `Who's coming to help?' " Mr. Faulkner said.

They are also seeking ways to improve communications with military units.

Two weeks ago, a team of private security guards fought for hours to defend a coalition authority building in Kut. They later complained that allied Ukrainian forces had not responded to their calls for help.

Even routine encounters between allied forces and private security teams can be perilous. Mr. Janke, the security company executive and himself a former Navy Seal, said that in a handful of cases over the last year, jittery soldiers had "lit up" — fired on — security companies' convoys.

No one was killed, but standard identification procedures might have prevented those incidents, Mr. Janke said.

Sorting out lines of authority and communication can be complex. Many security guards are hired as "independent contractors" by companies that, in turn, are sub-contractors of larger security companies, which are themselves subcontractors of a prime contractor, which may have been hired by a United States agency.

In practical terms, these convoluted relationships often mean that the governmental authorities have no real oversight of security companies on the public payroll.

In other cases, though, the government insists that security companies abide by detailed rules. A solicitation for work to provide security for the United States Agency for International Development, for example, contains requirements on everything from attire to crisis management.

"If a chemical and/or biological threat or attack occurs, keep the area near the guard post clear of people," the document states, adding in capital letters, "Remember, during the confusion of this type of act, the guards must still provide security for employees or other people in the area."

The words are emphatic, but empty.

Government contracting officials and company executives concede that private guards have every right to abandon their posts if they deem the situation too unsafe. They are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, nor can they be prosecuted under civil laws or declared AWOL.

Scott Earhart said he left Iraq because he was disgusted at the risks he was asked to take without adequate protection or training.

Mr. Earhart, 34, arrived in Iraq in October to work as a dog handler for a bomb-detection company hired by Custer Battles. A former sheriff's deputy in Maryland, he said that there were not enough weapons and that his body armor was substandard.

"If you didn't get to the supply room in time you wouldn't have a gun," he said.

Mr. Earhart said the breaking point came when he was asked to drive unarmed to Baghdad from Amman, Jordan. "I felt my safety was in jeopardy," he said.

Mr. Battles, of Custer Battles, said that it had taken longer than expected to get weapons shipments, and that the company had had "growth issues, like everybody else." But, he emphasized, "under no circumstances did we let people out into the field without proper equipment."

Clearer Rules: Search for Standards, Even a Philosophy

For more than a decade, military colleges have produced study after study warning of the potential pitfalls of giving contractors too large a role on the battlefield. The claimed cost savings are exaggerated or illusory, the studies argue. Questions of coordination and oversight have not been adequately resolved. Troops could be put at risk.

Several senior American commanders in Iraq and Kuwait, or who have recently returned, expressed mixed feelings about the use of private security companies.

"The key thing is there are many requirements that are still best filled with combat units that can call on gunship support — Apache and Kiowa Warriors overhead — medevac, and just plain old reinforcements," one senior Army general wrote in an e-mail message to The Times.

In an unusual reversal of roles, the push for industry standards is coming from security executives themselves. In Washington, Pentagon lawyers are reviewing the rules governing security companies. At the same time, coalition authority and Iraqi officials are drafting operating rules for the private security companies.

The draft rules urge the use of "graduated force" — first shout, then shove, then show your weapon, then shoot. And they spell out when the guards may use deadly force. But they do not cover precisely how security operators will be screened and trained.

For now, companies are often writing their own rules and procedures for Iraq.

"It's an industry that if it's not careful could easily blend into what is usually referred to as war profiteers or soldiers of fortune or mercenaries," "It is a very ill-defined operating space right now," Mr. Battles said. "We draw the lines."

Custer Battles went so far as to hire an expert in military ethics, Paul Christopher, who taught philosophy at West Point. Mr. Christopher is helping the company define its place and policies in the chaos of Iraq.

"He's the anti-Rambo," Mr. Battles said. "This is a deep thinker."

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington for this article.


So, it is all the more apparent now that Cheneys' "vision" for our military is nothing but a convoluted conspiracy driven by his misguided lust and greed established more than 13 years ago while in his position as Defense secretary and completed with his position as CEO of Halliburton and now the Vice Presidency!

Kinda makes you sick to your stomach, huh?

Steve Johnson

Vice President Halliburton

04/14/2004 @ 1:28pm

According to Dick Cheney's 2003 tax returns, his Halliburton paycheck last year was $178,437. His vice president's paycheck was $198,600.

His Halliburton paycheck?

Yes, the vice president still gets an annual Halliburton check. When he resigned as CEO to become the hand in the George W. Bush talking puppet, Cheney arranged his massive $36 million severance package to be paid out over a period of years, so as to pay less tax. Cheney says that this check comes in regardless of whether the enormous oil-and-defense contractor has a good year or a bad one, and so he has "no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind."

Not true. The Congressional Research Service studied Cheney's odd arrangement and concluded that the check might well not come if Halliburton has a really bad year; and that as of several months ago at least, Cheney still held substantial stock [!] in the company.

Meanwhile, Halliburton continues to be the biggest winner of the by-invitation-only business of scarfing up our tax dollars. The company has seized billions in non-competitive, no-bid arrangements.

That's a heckuva lot of money to be handing out in secret to a corporation that has the sitting American vice president on its payroll. Especially when you keep getting more after getting caught in ham-handed scams like overcharging for gasoline.

Yet Cheney, when asked about Halliburton's wonderful luck, pleads wide-eyed ignorance. Last September, on "Meet the Press," he was asked, "Why is there no bidding [for these billions]?" His reply: "I have no idea. Go ask the Corps of Engineers."

Billions are slyly, secretively and controversially showered on the entity that paid Dick Cheney $178,437 this year, by the entity that paid him $198,600 -- yet Cheney is just as gee-whiz curious as the rest of us as to how that happened. He has no idea. And despite all of the indignation, he's never asked his staff to look into it; he just quietly cashes his Halliburton checks and looks the other way, I guess.

Meanwhile, just because you hear less about it doesn't mean the Halliburton rapaciousness is at an end. Check out the excerpts below from a statement (as a PDF file) by Henry Waxman, the California Democrat, last month before a Congressional hearing (Waxman's web page on corruption in Iraqi reconstruction contracts is a must-watch):

I have been investigating contracting in Iraq for many months, and I believe few of my colleagues understand just how big a mess this Administration has created. ...

Instead of promoting competition, the Administration is giving contractors monopolies over huge sectors of the reconstruction effort. One company -- Halliburton -- gets all work related to oil reconstruction in southern Iraq, and another company -- Parsons -- gets all work related to oil reconstruction in northern Iraq. And they never have to bid against each other for any specific project.

The Administration has a procurement strategy that intentionally shields contractors from competition.

Think about this. For nearly a year, both Halliburton and Bechtel have had enormous operations in Iraq. Both companies can do virtually the same work. But never once have they had to compete against each other for a specific project.

This is a great deal for Halliburton and Bechtel, but it's an absolutely horrendous arrangement for the taxpayer.

These problems are compounded by the fact that many of the contracts that are being issued are "cost-plus" contracts. Under a cost-plus contract, the more the contractor bills, the more money the contractor makes. That's why cost-plus contracts are notoriously prone to abuse. ...

Rep. John Dingell and I asked the GAO [an investigative arm of Congress] to investigate what kind of job the Defense Department is doing managing the largest contract in Iraq ... [one that's] worth over $4 billion to Halliburton.

GAO found that the Army does not have the expertise or the personnel in Kuwait needed to ensure that taxpayers are not overcharged. According to GAO, inexperienced reservists are being sent to Kuwait and given key oversight responsibilities. A two-week training course on contract management is the only preparation they receive.

GAO told us that in one instance, the Army approved a ... contract worth $587 million to Halliburton in just ten minutes. The documentation for this mammoth contract was just six pages long. ...

Last month, my staff was contacted by two former Halliburton procurement officers.

They described company practices that systematically overcharged the taxpayer on hundreds of routine requisitions every day. When they tried to protest, they were ignored. They said that the company's motto was "Don't worry about price. It's cost-plus."

Waxman concludes, "The policymakers in this Administration don't seem to care about the pattern of waste, fraud, and abuse that is coming to light." But he's wrong. Of course they care: They're working overtime to protect those engaged in fraud.


Judicial Watch, Sierra Club Each To Present Points

(Washington, D.C.) The U.S. Supreme Court today decided to allow both Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club to present separate arguments in a lawsuit against the Cheney energy task force. Usually, the court hears arguments from only one attorney for plaintiffs and one for defendants.

The high court granted a motion for a divided argument filed March 26, 2004, by Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club filed separate lawsuits against the National Energy Policy Development Group after they requested and were denied access to meetings and records of the task force, which was run under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President. Their suits were consolidated, but the groups filed separate briefs in the case. The groups agreed to divide equally the time allotted by the court for oral arguments, which are set for April 27.

“We’re extremely pleased that the Supreme Court will allow both Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club to present their arguments separately in the case against the energy task force,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Both organizations now will be able to make important points to the Supreme Court about the Bush administration’s unprecedented assertion of executive branch supremacy.”

Judicial Watch asked that it and the Sierra Club be allowed to present separate arguments because each will make unique arguments and speak to issues not argued or addressed by the other. Judicial Watch, in its brief, for example, counters the plaintiff’s argument that the Federal Advisory Committee Act (“opening meetings” law) is unconstitutional; the Sierra Club argues that the court should not even consider the merits of the plaintiff’s constitutionality argument.

The Bush administration refuses to divulge the workings of the energy task force and asserts that the courts and Congress have no authority to seek information from Mr. Cheney – or any other administration official – about contacts with outside individuals alleged to have participated in the task force meetings, such as former Enron chief Kenneth Lay.

Judge orders release of energy documents


Vice President Dick Cheney addresses an audience of business leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, Monday, March 29, 2004. Cheney asserted that Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry would sweep away a host of Bush administration-sponsored tax cuts if elected. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
WASHINGTON -- The government must release more documents related to the White House task force that Vice President Dick Cheney convened in private to develop a national energy policy, a federal judge says.

Environmental and government watchdog groups have been seeking records and other information as part of an inquiry into whether energy executives and lobbyists helped draft a policy friendly to their industries early in President Bush's first year in office.

The administration maintains that only government employees were members of the task force, which disbanded in 2001, and has fought release of some documents on grounds that they were part of internal discussions.

The private group Judicial Watch has alleged that former Enron chairman Ken Lay and lobbyists Mark Racicot, Haley Barbour and Thomas Kuhn may have participated.

The order Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman covers material that the Energy Department, Interior Department and other federal agencies had refused to produce since a similar federal court ruling two years ago.

Some documents released so far show energy executives met with high-level Energy Department officials, but the records Friedman ordered released now "could be the most telling," said Sharon Buccino, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It's kind of the top of the food chain."

A meeting with Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham is significant, Buccino said, "but getting in to meet with Vice President Cheney and the staff of the task force is going to get folks even further in terms of influencing what comes out."

Friedman's order could cover some material that is the subject of a separate lawsuit now before the Supreme Court. That case also involves documents about the inner workings of Cheney's energy task force.

Cheney himself was ordered to produce some documents, and appealed that part of the dispute to the high court, which will hear arguments this month.

The Cheney case was the subject of recent headlines because of a hunting trip that Cheney took with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia weeks after the court had agreed to hear Cheney's appeal. Scalia rebuffed a request that he step aside, saying he had no conflict of interest.

Friedman's order deals with agencies that are subject to the federal Freedom of Information Act. Federal agencies must turn over more documents by June 1 or explain to the judge why they cannot, Friedman said.

The Energy Department and other agencies have turned over some 40,000 documents since another federal judge ordered them to do so in 2002, but have withheld an estimated 100,000 additional documents, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said Thursday.

It is not clear how many of those documents might be covered by Friedman's order. He agreed with agency lawyers that in some instances certain documents were exempt from the FOIA request or may not exist at all.

The judge disagreed, however, that records of communication between federal agencies and the task force are automatically exempt. He also ordered release of records from the task force's director, then a civil servant on loan to the task force from another government job.

"This is a brushback to the government," Fitton said. "I read it to mean we will finally get documents from the heart of the energy task force."

"Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush"

By David Talbot

The man who brought down Richard Nixon says Bush and "co-president" Cheney are an even greater threat to the country.

March 31, 2004 | As Richard Nixon's White House counsel during the Watergate scandal, John Dean famously warned his boss that there was "a cancer on the presidency" that would bring down the administration unless Nixon came clean. In his new book, "Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush," Dean warns the country that the Bush administration is even more secretive and authoritarian than Nixon's -- in fact, he writes, it's "the most secretive presidency of my lifetime."

"To say that the [Bush-Cheney] secret presidency is undemocratic is an understatement," he adds. "I'm anything but skittish about government, but I must say this administration is truly scary and, given the times we live in, frighteningly dangerous."

John Dean: "Dick Cheney is a political disaster awaiting recognition. In the book, I set forth a relatively long list of inchoate scandals, not to mention problems worse than scandals. They all involve Cheney in varying degrees. Bush can't dump Cheney, for it is Cheney, not Rove, who is Bush's backroom brain. He is actually a co-president. Bush doesn't enjoy studying and devising policy. Cheney does. While Cheney has tutored Bush for almost four years, and Bush is better prepared today than when he entered the job, Cheney is quietly guiding this administration. Cheney knows how to play Bush so that Cheney is absolutely no threat to him, makes him feel he is president, but Bush can't function without a script, or without Cheney. Bush is head of state; Cheney is head of government."