Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal

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.

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