Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal
Details the myriad illegal, immoral, and unethical activities of Dick Cheney when CEO of Halliburton, his obstruction of justice, and lies to the American public since his appointment as Vice President. For information on an equally corrupt politician, see link to Tom DeLay-Corporate Whore. Be sure to visit our cavernous vault of archives.
Cheney Utters 'F-Word' in U.S. Senate
By Thomas Ferraro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney blurted out the "F word" at Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont during a heated exchange on the Senate floor, congressional aides said on Thursday.
The incident occurred on Tuesday in a terse discussion between the two that touched on politics, religion and money, with Cheney finally telling Leahy to "f--- off" or "go f--- yourself," the aides said.
"I think he was just having a bad day," Leahy was quoted as saying on CNN, which first reported the incident. "I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the floor."
"That doesn't sound like language the vice president would use but there was a frank exchange of views," said Cheney spokesman Kevin Kellems.
According to congressional aides, Leahy said hello to Cheney following the taking of the Senate group photo on the floor of the chamber.
Cheney, who is president of the Senate, then ripped into Leahy for the Democratic senator's criticism this week of alleged war profiteering in Iraq by Halliburton, the oil services company that Cheney once ran.
Leahy and other Democrats have called for congressional hearings into whether the vice president helped the firm win lucrative contracts in Iraq after the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam Hussein.
During their exchange, Leahy noted that Republicans had accused Democrats of being anti-Catholic because they are opposed to some of President Bush's anti-abortion judges, the aides said.
That's when Cheney unloaded with the "F-bomb," aides said.
With the Senate sharply divided, Democrats and Republicans have had numerous partisan battles in recent years on matters from taxes to health care.
"Things have been pretty bad around here," said Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat. "But as far as I know, as far as I'm concerned, this is a new low."
According to Senate rules, profanity is not permitted while the chamber is in session. But when the exchange occurred between Leahy and Cheney, the Senate was not in session so there was technically no foul.
Earlier on Thursday, before word of the exchange spread, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat, stood in the chamber and spoke of the need to improve civility with what he called the "politics of common ground."
Groups that filed suit for Cheney records happy with ruling
Washington-AP -- Judicial Watch's president says the Bush administration has simply bought more time, in the battle over keeping some records secret.
The Supreme Court has ruled the administration doesn't have to reveal details of Vice President Cheney's energy task force meetings. But the court rejected Cheney's request to shut down the case.
Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club had each sued, demanding that the records be made public.
A Sierra Club lawyer says the ruling was a win for the two groups, since it denied Cheney's request.
Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton (FIH'-tihn) says the administration's argument that secret meetings are necessary for the president to get good advice is ridiculous. He says no court in the land will agree that the administration can use executive privilege to keep details of meetings with private citizens secret.
9/11 Panel Becomes Cheney’s Nightmare
by Joe Conason
With the prescience that often accompanies a queasy conscience, Vice President Dick Cheney opposed an independent investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks from the very beginning. In the spring of 2002, Mr. Cheney sought to intimidate Senator Tom Daschle, then the Senate Majority Leader, from undertaking or authorizing such an investigation. Any probe of the events leading up to the catastrophe might somehow damage the "war on terrorism," he warned.
The Bush administration lost that fight when Congress authorized the creation of the 9/11 commission, officially known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, and the President reluctantly signed that legislation.
Now we know what lay behind the Vice President’s troubled premonitions. The commission’s activities haven’t hampered American action against terrorism. But its hearings and reports have brought considerable discredit upon the Bush administration—not only for the administration’s handling of the terror threat before 9/11, but most recently for White House propagandizing about alleged links between Al Qaeda and Iraq.
During the past week, coinciding with the commission’s final public hearings, its staff released a report that rejected the White House claims of collaboration between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden against the United States. On that murky issue, the report’s words are worth quoting in full:
"A senior Iraqi intelligence official reportedly made three trips to Sudan, finally meeting bin Ladin [sic] in 1994. Bin Ladin is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded. There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al Qaeda also occurred after Bin Ladin had returned to Afghanistan, but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship. Two senior Bin Ladin associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al Qaeda and Iraq. We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."
The White House propaganda campaign leading up to the invasion of Iraq was so successful that polls once showed nearly 70 percent of the American public believed that Iraq was somehow responsible for the 9/11 atrocities. Along with Saddam’s mythical nuclear arsenal and other "weapons of mass destruction," his alleged links to Al Qaeda provided the chief argument for the Bush-Cheney war policy.
Although President George W. Bush has since admitted there is no evidence that the deposed dictator was behind the 9/11 attacks, he sent a letter to Congress in 2002 indicating he knew otherwise: "I have also determined that the use of armed force against Iraq is consistent with taking necessary action against those nations who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11." In his "Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, the President boasted, "We have removed an ally of Al Qaeda."
Since then, Mr. Cheney also has repeatedly contended that Iraq directly assisted Al Qaeda, although he hesitates to suggest that Saddam was behind 9/11. He claims that Iraq assisted Osama bin Laden’s criminal associates with bomb-making and with training in the use of biological and chemical weapons.
So the commission staff’s latest findings infuriated the Vice President. His echo in The New York Times, Op-Ed columnist William Safire, denounced them as the work of a "runaway" staff. (Mr. Safire forgot to mention, however, that the commission’s executive director, Philip Zelikow, is a Republican and a close associate of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.)
Attempting to rebut the offending report, Mr. Cheney told an interviewer that he "probably" has more information about the "relationship" between Al Qaeda and Iraq than the commission does.
If so, he should be asked to present that information to the commission, whose chairman, Thomas Kean, and vice chairman, Lee Hamilton, have tried to downplay their stark differences with the White House. They have yet to answer the Vice President’s taunts with a firm request for any additional proof he may possess about Iraq and Al Qaeda.
To fulfill their responsibility to the nation, Mr. Kean and Mr. Hamilton need to show that they will insist on the truth, no matter how much embarrassment that may prove to the President and the Vice President. And since Mr. Cheney has taken upon himself the nasty task of discrediting the commission, he may also be asked to answer some more questions about his own "war on terrorism."
According to a knowledgeable source, the commission has not yet investigated the White House counterterror task force that the Vice President was appointed to chair in the spring of 2001. That task force reportedly held no significant meetings and achieved nothing of consequence during the six months leading up to Sept. 11.
Before the 9/11 commission completes its work and issues its final report this summer, Mr. Cheney should be asked to explain why, despite all the warnings about Al Qaeda, he did so little.
You may reach Joe Conason via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Court Won't Order Cheney Papers Released
By GINA HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court refused Thursday to order the Bush administration to make public secret details of Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites)'s energy task force, but kept the case alive by sending it back to a lower court.
Justices said 7-2 that a lower court should consider whether a federal open government law could be used to get documents of the task force.
The decision extends the legal fight over the information. Justices could have allowed a judge to immediately move ahead with ordering the release of the papers.
The issues in the case have been overshadowed by conflict-of-interest questions about Justice Antonin Scalia (news - web sites).
Scalia had defiantly refused to step down from hearing the case involving Cheney, despite criticism that his impartiality has been brought into question because of a hunting vacation that he took with Cheney while the court was considering the vice president's appeal.
"Special considerations applicable to the president and the vice president suggest that the courts should be sensitive to requests by the government" in such special appeals, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Thursday that while the White House hasn't had a chance to review the decision, it is pleased with the 7-2 decision that he says affirms the Bush administration's decision. "We believe the president should be able to receive candid and unvarnished advice from his staff and advisers. It's an important principle," McClellan said.
At issue was a 1972 open government law, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires government panels to conduct their business in public, unless all members are government officials.
Until the government produces some records, it won't be clear who drafted the government's policies, lawyers for the suing groups argued.
Shortly after taking office, President Bush (news - web sites) put Cheney, a former energy industry executive, in charge of the task force which, after a series of private meetings in 2001, produced recommendations generally friendly to industry.
The Sierra Club (news - web sites), a liberal environmental club, and Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, sued. They argued that the public has a right to information about committees like Cheney's. The organizations contended that environmentalists were shut out of the meetings, while executives like former Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth Lay were key task force players.
The Bush administration argued that privacy is important for candid White House discussions on difficult issues. The high court did not specifically address that question, however.
The case had become a potentially embarrassing election-year problem for the administration.
Thursday's decision buys the administration more time. If it loses in the appeals court, the administration can return to the Supreme Court in another extended appeal before having to release information as to whether Cheney's task force was cozy with energy executives, including those with his former company, Halliburton.
The suing groups allege the industry representatives in effect functioned as members of the government panel, which included Cabinet secretaries and lower-level administration employees. The open government law requires advisory committees with nongovernment members to conduct their business in public, and allow the public to inspect their records.
Until the government produces some records it won't be clear who drafted the government's policies, lawyers for the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch argued.
The Sierra Club had asked Scalia to stay out of the case, because the justice flew with Cheney to hunt in Louisiana in January, weeks after the high court agreed to hear the vice president's appeal. Dozens of newspapers also called for his recusal.
Scalia, a Reagan administration appointee and close friend of the vice president, had said the duck hunting trip was acceptable socializing that wouldn't cloud his judgment. "If it is reasonable to think that a Supreme Court justice can be bought so cheap, the nation is in deeper trouble than I had imagined," he wrote in an unusual 21-page memo.
He joined the seven justices who agreed to send the case back for more consideration. But he and Justice Clarence Thomas (news - web sites) wrote separately to say a federal court "clearly exceeded" its authority in ordering the administration to release records.
Justices Ruth Bader and David H. Souter said in a dissent that the judge in the case should be allow to consider what records should be released.
The Supreme Court was the latest stop in a nearly three-year fight over access to records of the task force that prepared a national energy strategy in 2001. Most of the recommendations stalled in Congress.
A separate lawsuit seeks thousands of documents under a separate law, the Freedom of Information Act. A judge ruled this spring that those documents should be released.
The case is Cheney v. U.S. District Court, 03-475.
Cheney Tells Baldfaced Lie On MSNBC
Dick Cheney Discusses 9/11 Commission Report, with Gloria Borger (MSNBC, 6/17/04:
CNBC's Gloria Borger: Well, let's get to Mohamed Atta for a minute because you mentioned him as well. You have said in the past that it was, quote, "pretty well confirmed."
Dick Cheney: No, I never said that. What I said was the Czech intelligence service reported after 9/11 that Atta had been in Prague on April 9 of 2001, where he allegedly met with an Iraqi intelligence official.
Cheney: I never said that.
Borger: I think that is...
Cheney: Absolutely not.
Dick Cheney on NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert, 12/9/01:
''That's been pretty well confirmed that [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.''
Cheney in Firing Line over Nigerian Bribery Claims
by Antony Barnett and Martin Bright
A British lawyer is emerging as a key witness in a $180 million bribery investigation that could lead to the indictment of US vice president Dick Cheney.
Last week, US oil corporation Halliburton cut all ties with a former senior executive, Albert Stanley, after it emerged he had received as much as $5m in 'improper personal benefits' as part of a $4bn gas project in Nigeria. Halliburton also sacked a second 'consultant', William Chaudan in connection with the bribery allegations. At the time of these alleged payments, Cheney was chief executive of the corporation.
French investigating magistrate Renaud van Ruymbeke is examining a stream of payments surrounding the controversial project which was built during the regime of the late dictator Sani Abacha. The judge has uncovered a $180m web of payments channeled through offshore companies and bank accounts.
The Nigerian project to build a huge gas plant was signed with an international consortium that included Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root. Cheney retired from the chief executive post in 2000.
The French judge is considering summoning Cheney to give evidence in his probe to ascertain whether the US vice president knew about the alleged commission payments.
Van Ruymbeke has been investigating why the consortium, which built the gas plant, paid up to $180m to a Gibraltan company set up by British solicitor Jeffrey Tesler, a partner in law firm Kaye Tesler & Co, based in Tottenham, north London. Van Ruymbeke wants to know whether the Gibraltar firm, TriStar Investments, was used to distribute bribes to win the contracts. Tesler has declined to answer media questions about his role in the project.
The Nigerian deal to build a $4bn liquefied natural gas plant is already subject to a formal investigation by both the US department of justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Halliburton's decision to sever ties with Stanley and Chaudan recognizes the firm's difficulty with the corruption allegations. When the claims initially arose in France the firm denied any improper activities. A spokesman for Halliburton said the two executives were dismissed because they had broken the firm's 'code of business conduct'.
A statement added: 'While we do not know all of the facts related to the issue we are taking these actions in response to the facts that we do have and to protect our investors, employees, customers and vendors as several investigations proceed.'
The acknowledgement that Stanley was receiving payments as part of the Nigeria deal brings the allegations uncomfortably close to Cheney. Stanley was chairman of Kellogg Brown & Root - one of Halliburton's most important subsidiaries. The company denied that Stanley - who retired as chairman in December but remained a consultant - would have reported directly to Cheney.
Neither Stanley, Chaudan or their lawyers have made any comments on the allegations and the two US directors do not currently face any legal action.
Halliburton Cuts Ties with Ex-KBR Chief
Friday June 18, 9:44 AM EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Halliburton Co. (HAL) has severed ties with the former chairman of its KBR engineering and construction unit in connection with a probe of a Nigerian project, the company said on Friday.
Halliburton said it terminated ties with A. Jack Stanley, who recently retired as KBR chairman, and a second former employee, who it did not identify.
Halliburton is probing payments made by a company joint venture in connection with the building of a natural gas liquefaction plant in Nigeria.
The Houston company, which also faces accusations that KBR overcharged the U.S. government for work in Afghanistan and Iraq, said it severed all ties with another consultant and former employee, who was not named, for the same reason.
Stanley could not be reached for comment.
The U.S. government is also investigating the payments made by Halliburton joint venture TSKJ. The payments went to the Nigerian government.
Halliburton said it is still cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and is continuing with its own internal probe.
The company said it does not believe it has violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But it said it plans to ask TSKJ to terminate immediately all services of TSKJ's agent, Tri-Star Investments.
Halliburton bills taxpayers $45 for pack of soda, $100 for bag of laundry
14 June 2004
Five former Halliburton employees and one former executive of a Halliburton subcontractor describe egregious examples of abuse involving Halliburton’s Iraq contracts. In a letter written by Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), these whistleblowers describe instances where Halliburton employees would abandon or torch new trucks -- worth $80,000 -- if they acquired a flat tire or other minor mechanical problems. Halliburton would subsequently purchase new trucks with U.S. taxpayer dollars.
The former employees also described repeated instances of theft involving both Halliburton and Army personnel. One employee complained to Halliburton's KBR chief, Randy Harl, about the contracting abuse, but two weeks later he was fired.
Another former employee said Halliburton purchased soda for $45 per case and laundry bags for $100 each.
Employees billed the government for work even when they sat around and did nothing all day. These employees spent weeks in Iraq with virtually nothing to do, but were instructed by Halliburton to bill the government for 12 hours per day for seven days of work. Halliburton also billed the government for $1 million worth of hotel costs to house 100 employees at a Kuwait hotel for three months. Those costs could have been dramatically lower if temporary apartments were used instead of a hotel.
Halliburton is paid a fee by the government of one to three percent of its costs for all purchases it makes. So, the company earns a higher fee if it illegally inflates its costs. Waxman's letter was written to the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform, Tom Davis (R-VA), after Davis refused requests by Democrats to hear the testimony of the former Halliburton workers.
Pentagon Broke Contract Laws To Help Halliburton
WASHINGTON - June 15 - The GAO told Congressional investigators today that Pentagon officials "overstepped the latitude provided by competition laws" before the war by awarding oil-related work to Halliburton under a pre- existing global logistics contract (LOGCAP).
Testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform hearing confirmed today that Bush administration political appointees overruled career contracting officials in the Pentagon by giving Halliburton the oil-related task order months before the invasion of Iraq.
The hearing came two days after Pentagon officials admitted that Pentagon political appointees notified Vice President Cheney's chief of staff of the decision to award Halliburton a no-bid contract to repair Iraq's oil infrastructure.
Contracting experts say it is highly unusual for political appointees to be involved in the contracting process since contracts are normally awarded by career civil servants with expertise in government contracting. Involvement by Cheney's chief of staff in the contracting process contradicts Cheney's assertion that he had no role in awarding contracts to his former company.
At the same time, the committee's failure to call Halliburton whistleblowers to testify underscores Congress' continuing failure to hold the company accountable for contracting abuses and potential fraud.
Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) refused to allow five former Halliburton employees with additional evidence of waste, fraud and abuse to testify today. The former employees (as well as an employee of a Halliburton subcontractor) have brought serious charges of abuse by Halliburton subsidiary KBR to the attention of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), including billing $45 per six pack of soda, the use of a five-star hotel in Kuwait, a $100 charge per bag of laundry, and the torching of brand new $80,000 trucks.
The abuses are spelled out in a new letter sent by Rep. Waxman yesterday to Davis, and posted at: http://www.halliburtonwatch.org
"While the Bush administration failed to adequately plan for the safety of our troops -- as proven by its failure to provide sufficient body armor -- it made certain that Halliburton would make a killing long before the war began," said HalliburtonWatch project coordinator Jim Donahue.
Cheney Won't Back Down on Saddam-Qaeda Links -Aides
Wed Jun 16
By Adam Entous
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites), who took the lead in pushing the idea of long-standing links between Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) and al Qaeda, has no intention of backing down despite a finding to the contrary by the Sept. 11 commission, aides said on Wednesday.
Administration officials stood by Cheney, who critics accuse of using faulty intelligence about alleged weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi links to al Qaeda to push the nation to war.
A White House official said Cheney's assertion, which he repeated this week, that the ousted Iraqi leader had long-established ties to al Qaeda, were based on "facts."
"Hell no!" another administration official said when asked if Cheney would retract his statements after the commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks found no evidence that Iraq (news - web sites) aided al Qaeda attempts to strike the United States.
According to the commission's staff report, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in 1994 and had explored the possibility of cooperation, but the plans apparently never came to fruition.
"We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States," the report said.
Administration officials disputed suggestions that Cheney's comments conflicted with the report's findings.
Officials said Cheney asserted on Monday that there were links between Saddam and al Qaeda, not that Saddam helped al Qaeda carry out attacks against the United States, although critics say Cheney and other officials at times created the impression that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"It's not surprising people make that connection," Cheney said at one point as polls showed most Americans believed Iraq was involved.
"The administration's statements rest on a solid foundation of history and facts. The record of links between Iraq and al Qaeda is clear to anyone who has open eyes and an open mind," a White House official said on Wednesday.
Administration officials also disputed suggestions that Cheney was the most outspoken official about the links.
To make that case, his office provided reporters with a list of U.S. officials and lawmakers who made similar statements about Saddam's alleged ties to al Qaeda.
The list compiled by the vice president's office included outgoing CIA (news - web sites) Director George Tenet, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (news - web sites), the New York Democrat and former first lady.
"We have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad," Tenet said in an Oct. 7, 2002 letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Sen. Clinton was quoted as saying three days later: "He (Saddam) has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members," according to the list compiled by Cheney's office.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared in September 2002: "We know that al-Qaeda is operating in Iraq today."
REPORT: Cheney Lying About Halliburton Involvement
Vice President Dick Cheney has repeatedly assured Americans that he has positively no involvement in directing billions of taxpayer dollars in no-bid contracts to Halliburton, his former employer. In September of 2003, he told NBC's Meet the Press that his office has "absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts."1 In January of 2004, he told Fox News Radio, "I don't have anything to do with the contracting process,2 and I wouldn't know how to manipulate the process if I wanted to." But, according to new evidence, Cheney's office "coordinated"3 the Halliburton contracts and had the Pentagon specifically seek its input in constructing what ultimately became a multi-billion-dollar contract.
According to the New York Times, the Pentagon discussed a $1.9 million planning contract with "senior Bush administration officials, including the Vice President's Chief of Staff"4 before inking the deal. According to the Los Angeles Times, three companies were vying for the lucrative contract which was seen as the precursor to a much larger, $7 billion contract. But instead of following the normal competitive civil service contracting process, the Times reports that Bush administration political appointees overruled the advice of Army lawyers and simply gave Halliburton the contract.5 That decision was then brought to Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who reviewed the contract and raised no objections to the non-competitive process.
Cheney has denied having any financial stake in Halliburton receiving massive government contracts, claiming, "I severed my ties nearly four years ago when I ran for Vice President."6 But Cheney still receives about $150,000 a year in deferred compensation from Halliburton7 and still owns about 433,000 company stock options8 - options which could become more valuable as the company's revenues rise. That fact was enough to lead the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service to bill Cheney's continued financial ties a "potential conflict of interest."9
And yet despite all these questions, the Bush administration's allies today formally blocked any testimony from Halliburton employees about the matter.10 Specifically, when Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) presented a slate of witnesses to the House Government Reform Committee, they were prevented from appearing by Republicans. That move led Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to demand the appointment of a special counsel to independently investigate the situation.11
"Cheney denies role in Iraq deal", The Boston Globe, 9/15/2003.
"Cheney faults 'desperate' attacks on Halliburton", CNN.com, 1/23/2004.
"Cheney Coordinated Halliburton Iraq Contract: Report", Common Dreams News Center, 5/31/2004.
"White House Officials and Cheney Aide Approved Halliburton Contract in Iraq, Pentagon Says", The New York Times, 6/14/2004.
"Appointee's Role in Halliburton Pact Told", Los Angeles Times, 6/14/2004.
"VP Interview with Wolf Blitzer, CNN", WhiteHouse.gov, 3/2/2004.
"Contract Sport", The New Yorker, 2/9/2004.
"Halliburton asks employees to help defend company", CNN.com, 10/25/2003.
"Cheney may still have Halliburton ties", CNNmoney.com, 9/25/2003.
"Whistle-blowers say Halliburton rife with waste", Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6/15/2004.
"Senator Seeks Halliburton Special Counsel", Reuters, 6/14/2004.
Feds Probe Halliburton Nigerian Payments
Friday June 11, 1:46 PM EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government is investigating payments made by a Halliburton Co. (HAL) joint venture to the Nigerian government in connection with a liquefied natural gas plant project in Nigeria, the company said on Friday.
Houston-based Halliburton, one of the biggest providers of field and engineering services to the energy industry, said it met with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department to discuss the matter. Investigators have asked Halliburton for information regarding the payments in light of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the company said.
Halliburton, once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, said it does not believe it violated the act but "there can be no assurance that government authorities would not conclude otherwise." The company also said it continues to investigate the issue internally.
TSKJ is a Portugal-registered consortium equally owned by Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root, Technip SA (TECF) of France, Eni SpA (ENI) affiliate Snamprogetti Netherlands and JGC Corp. (1963) of Japan.
TSKJ and others have entered into contracts to build and expand a liquefied natural gas facility project for Nigeria LNG Ltd, a major venture owned by Nigeria's state oil company and affiliates of three European oil companies including Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD) (SHEL), France's Total (TOTF) and Italy's Agip.
It has been a difficult year for Halliburton, which faces accusations it overcharged the U.S. government for its food services and fuels delivery support work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Its connections to Cheney also have drawn fire, especially after it secured a no-bid contract to repair Iraq's oil fields. Meanwhile it is in the thick of two separate issues in Nigeria, which human rights groups deem one of the world's most corrupt nations.
In February, Nigeria said it was investigating allegations that the consortium paid from $150 million to $180 million in kickbacks to help secure a contract to build the LNG plant. The Justice Department at that time asked for documents in connection with the allegations.
The Nigerian kickbacks issue extended to France, where a French investigating magistrate opened a probe last year into the payments. Halliburton said its representatives recently met with the magistrate and expressed willingness to cooperate.
Meanwhile in May of last year, Halliburton disclosed it owed as much as $5 million in taxes to Nigeria.
The company said an internal audit discovered that one of its overseas units paid $2.4 million to an entity owned by a Nigerian national to get favorable tax treatment in the oil-rich West African country.
An official from a local tax authority presented himself as a consultant, the company said.
Halliburton shares closed at $29.19 in Thursday trading. The New York Stock Exchange was closed Friday to mark a national day of mourning for former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Democrats Ask Special Halliburton/Cheney Counsel
Wed Jun 2, 2004 06:39 PM ET
By Susan Cornwell
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - House Democrats urged a special counsel on Wednesday to probe whether Vice President Dick Cheney broke the law through any involvement in the award of a government contract in Iraq to his old company, Halliburton Co.
For the second day running, Democrats demanded more answers to questions raised by a newly unearthed Army e-mail that said Cheney's office "coordinated" action on a contract to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure that was awarded to Halliburton.
Eleven Democratic members of the House of Representatives wrote to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking him to name a special counsel to investigate Cheney's role.
"The public deserves to know the truth about whether the Vice President has illegally commingled his official and personal dealings," said the letter from Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and 10 other House lawmakers.
In the Senate, the Democratic leader said Cheney needed to explain himself in light of fresh questions about whether he had helped his old firm get the no-bid oil infrastructure contract last year.
"This is a very serious charge ... if indeed it is true, then it not only ought to be investigated, but corrective action needs to be taken," Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota told reporters outside the Senate.
"Certainly an explanation from Vice President Cheney and the White House is called for. The sooner that happens, the better," Daschle said.
Cheney's office and the Pentagon have denied that he helped steer the March, 2003 contract to the oilfield services giant where he had been the chief executive from 1995 until he joined George W. Bush's presidential ticket in 2000.
But with Bush and Cheney campaigning for reelection in national elections approaching in November, Democrats have seized on the e-mail as fresh ammunition against the Republican White House.
A spokesman said the Justice Department would review the Democrats' letter to Ashcroft. "We'll review the letter, and respond accordingly," Blain Rethmeier said.
The March 5, 2003, Pentagon e-mail, sent by an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers official, was first reported by Time magazine on the weekend. It had located the e-mail among documents provided by Judicial Watch, a watchdog group.
The e-mail said Douglas Feith, who reports to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, approved arrangements for the contract to rebuild Iraq's oil industry "contingent on informing WH (White House) tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's (vice president's) office."
Its appearance revived Democratic calls on Capitol Hill for hearings into various details of U.S. government deals involving Halliburton, the biggest contractor in Iraq.
But Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, chair of the Senate Governmental Affairs committee, says the panel will not be taking any action because Halliburton's contracts in Iraq already face probes by the General Accounting Office, defense auditors and the Pentagon inspector general.
U.S. officials have estimated the Texas company's Iraq deals, for everything from oil repairs to meals for the troops, could eventually total some $18 billion.
The March 2003 no-bid contract handed out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers promised the company about $2.5 billion for rebuilding Iraq's oil industry. It was replaced in January 2004 by two contracts totaling $2 billion, with Halliburton retaining work in southern Iraq for $1.2 billion.
Cheney Linked To Halliburton Deal
WASHINGTON, June 1, 2004
Vice President Dick Cheney has denied any involvement with his former firm. (Photo: AP)
"We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's (Vice President's) office."
E-mail obtained by Time
(CBS/AP) A Pentagon e-mail indicates that a multimillion-dollar Halliburton contract for Iraqi reconstruction was "coordinated" with the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the company's former chief executive, a newsmagazine reports.
Time magazine says the March 5, 2003 e-mail from an unknown Army Corps of Engineers official says Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz gave his deputy Douglas Feith the authority to "execute" the contract for restoring Iraq's oil industry.
According to the magazine, the e-mail says Feith approved the contract "contingent on informing WH (White House) tomorrow."
"We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's (Vice President's) office."
A Cheney spokesman says the vice president "has played no role whatsoever in government-contract decisions involving Halliburton" since 2000, and that any contact over the contract was merely to prepare the vice president for possible controversy over such a lucrative deal going to his former firm.
Halliburton took in $3.6 billion last year from contracts to serve U.S. troops and rebuild the oil industry in Iraq. Halliburton executives say the company is getting about $1 billion a month for Iraq work this year.
The firm, which won large Pentagon contracts under the Clinton administration as well as the current one, has been under intense scrutiny for its performance in Iraq.
In March, the Pentagon said it plans to withhold about $300 million in payments to the company because of possible overcharging for meals served to troops in Iraq and Kuwait.
Halliburton and its military services subsidiary, KBR, face a criminal investigation into alleged misdeeds in government work in Iraq and Kuwait. In this case, Pentagon auditors accuse KBR of overestimating the number of troops to be served meals, thus reaping millions in overcharges.
Halliburton has said any mistakes in estimating the number of troops came from having to operate in a war zone where the numbers changed quickly and unpredictably.
Halliburton's other problems include allegations of a kickback scheme by two former workers in Kuwait that prompted Halliburton to reimburse the Pentagon $6.3 million; faulty cost estimates on the $2.7 billion contract to serve troops in Iraq, including failing to tell the Pentagon that KBR fired two subcontractors; and a separate audit that accused KBR of overcharging by $61 million for gasoline delivered to serve the civilian market in Iraq last year. Halliburton has said the charges were proper.
Halliburton paid $2 million in 2002 to settle charges it inflated costs on a maintenance contract at now-closed Fort Ord in California.
Federal authorities also are investigating whether Halliburton broke the law by using a subsidiary to do business in Iran, whether the company overcharged for work done for the Pentagon in the Balkans and whether it was involved in an alleged $180 million bribery scheme in Nigeria. The company admitted in 2003 that it improperly paid $2.4 million to a Nigerian tax official.
Previous reports indicate Halliburton studied the possibility of privatizing Pentagon contracts when Cheney was defense secretary, then was awarded one of the first private deals. Cheney became CEO after leaving the Pentagon.
A financial disclosure form obtained by CBSNews.com indicates that Cheney received deferred income from the firm after becoming vice president.