Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal


Bush administration distorts science to shield Halliburton from pollution laws

16 March 2005

WASHINGTON, March 16 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will investigate complaints by one of its engineers who said the agency distorts science in order to shield Halliburton from pollution laws, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

The EPA's inspector general agreed to investigate the complaint, which was first exposed by the Times last year by Weston Wilson, who is a senior engineer with the EPA.

According to Wilson, a 30-year employee with the EPA, the Bush administration purposely tampered with environmental science in order to shield a lucrative drilling technique, known as hydraulic fracturing, from all regulations. Wilson says the technique, pioneered by Halliburton, is harmful to drinking water supplies. Halliburton has spent years trying to get the federal government to exempt the technique from environmental regulations.

Wilson and environmental groups say hydraulic fracturing can contaminate drinking water supplies with carcinogens and is therefore required by law to be regulated by the EPA. In addition, activists have documented incidents where hydraulic fracturing has contaminated drinking water supplies with hazardous chemicals.

The extra oil and gas produced each year from hydraulic fracturing boosts Halliburton's revenues by $1.5 billion, which represents 20 percent of the company's energy-related revenue. The technique involves pumping chemicals into the ground to breakup rock formations so that oil and gas can more easily be produced. Halliburton says the chemicals used are benign, but critics say hazardous chemicals have also been used, including benzene, toluene, naphthalene, trimethylnapthalene, ethylbenzene and xylene.

The Bush administration has offered an energy bill that would exempt hydraulic fracturing from federal regulation. The bill is currently pending in Congress and there is little congressional opposition to it.

"If this bill passes, American citizens will not know if toxic fracturing fluids are injected into their groundwater supply," Wilson told the Times.

An EPA panel had decided that hydraulic fracturing is "safe," but six of the seven panel members currently or formerly worked for the energy industry, the Times reported.

The EPA's approval of hydraulic fracturing was written into Vice President Dick Cheney's notoriously-secret Energy Task Force report after the agency initially complained that it can be dangerous to public health. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Mr. Wilson both accuse the EPA of initially concluding that the technique can be dangerous to public health, but then deleting this conclusion after Cheney's office demanded it. Waxman said Cheney's energy task force report "was altered to delete language critical of hydraulic fracturing."

Members of congressional staff who were skeptical of hydraulic fracturing had met with EPA officials who had confirmed that the process could release harmful chemicals into the groundwater supply. A week later, however, those same EPA officials provided a "new analysis, using changed numbers" that were favorable to Halliburton, according to Rep. Waxman. The new EPA analysis showed that hydraulic fracturing would not release dangerous levels of harmful chemicals like benzene into the public's drinking water supply. The explanation for the sudden change in analysis from the EPA was that it was "based on feedback" from unidentified industry sources. The EPA later declared in an official study that the dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing "appear to be low and do not justify additional study."

If the Energy Bill becomes law, it would overturn a 1997 federal appeals court ruling in Alabama that directed the EPA to regulate hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Ever since the court's ruling, Halliburton has lobbied Congress and the president to overturn the decision.


Truly crazy: the Cheney energy policy

March 29, 2005
Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas -- As a general rule about Bush & Co., the more closely a policy is associated with Dick Cheney, the worse it is. Which brings us to energy policy -- remember his secret task force? In the long history of monumentally bad ideas, the Cheney policy is a standout for reasons of both omission and commission. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.

Ponder this: Next year, the administration will phase out the $2,000 tax credit for buying a hybrid vehicle, which gets over 50 miles per gallon, but will leave in place the $25,000 tax write-off for a Hummer, which gets 10-12 mpg. That's truly crazy, and that's truly what the whole Cheney energy policy is.

According to the Energy Information Administration in the Department of Energy, last year's energy bill (same as this one) would cost taxpayers at least $31 billion, do nothing about the projected over-80 percent increase in America's imports of foreign oil by 2025 and increase gasoline prices. (Since every bureaucrat who tells the truth in this administration -- about the cost of the drug bill or the safety of Vioxx -- seems to get the ax, I'm probably getting those folks in trouble.)

The bill is loaded with corporate giveaways and tax breaks for big oil. Meanwhile, Bush's budget cuts funding for renewable energy research and programs, and anyone who tells you different is lying.

Now, here's the Catch-22 we get with this administration: It is using the exact language of the bill's critics -- stealing it wholesale and using it to promote its bill. It's our friend Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster who specializes in "framing" issues (framing means the same thing as spinning, and in the non-political world it is known as lying), at work again. Luntz put out a memo in January: "Eight Energy Communication Guidelines for 2005" telling R's how to talk about energy using language people like.

The Natural Resources Defense Council found a Bush speech on energy on March 9 in Ohio that parrots Luntz's suggestions to a laughable point -- threat to national security, diversity of supply, innovation, conservation and (my fave) Point 4, "The key principle is 'responsible energy exploration.' And remember, it's NOT drilling for oil. It's responsible energy exploration."

So there was Bush, as per Luntz's memo, talking about "environmentally responsible exploration" and announcing one of his top energy objectives is "to diversify our energy supply by developing alternative sources of energy." Polling shows 70 percent of Americans support a drastic increase in government spending on renewable energy sources.

I'm tired of arguing about whether Bush is so ignorant he doesn't know that he is cutting alternative energy programs and subsidizing oil companies or so fiendishly clever that he knows and doesn't care what he says. In the end, it doesn't make any difference. You get wretched policy either way.

The Apollo Project, a sensible outfit dedicated to reducing America's dependence on foreign oil, says 90 percent of Americans support its goal of energy independence. Bracken Hendricks, the executive director, points out that there is "remarkable agreement among many so-called strange bedfellows -- labor and business, environmentalists and evangelicals, governors and generals, urbanites and farmers."

Meanwhile, what we are sticking with is soaring oil prices (ExxonMobil just reported the highest quarterly profit ever, $8.42 billion, by an American company) and declining discoveries. Several oil companies are reporting disappearing reserves, and Royal Dutch/Shell admitted it had overstated its reserves by 20 percent last year.

Nor are the major oil companies spending their mammoth profits on exploration or field development -- they're doing mega-mergers and stock buybacks. ExxonMobil spent $9.95 billion to buy back its own stock in 2004. The Chinese and the Indians are now buying cars like mad, and the result is going to be an enormous supply crunch, sooner rather than later.

It is possible with existing technology to build a car that gets 500 miles per gallon, but the Bushies won't even raise the CAFÉ (fuel efficiency) standards for cars coming out now. The trouble with the Bush plan to develop hydrogen cars is that while you can get hydrogen out of water, you have put energy in to get it out, so there's a net energy loss.

Conservation is simply the cheapest and most effective way of addressing this problem. If you put a tax on carbon, it would move industry to wind or solar power. Wind power here in Texas is at the tipping point now -- comparably priced. Our health, our environment, our economy and the globe itself would all benefit from a transition to renewable energy sources.

And as Tom Friedman recently pointed out, it would do a lot for world peace, too: "By doing nothing to lower U.S. oil consumption, we are financing both sides in the war on terrorism and strengthening the worst governments in the world. That is, we are financing the U.S. military with our tax dollars and we are financing the jihadists -- and the Saudi, Sudanese and Iranian mosques and charities that support them -- through our gasoline purchases."

To find out more about Molly Ivins and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Halliburton agrees to forgo new contracts in Iran

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

NEW YORK: U.S. oil services giant Halliburton agreed to forgo any new business in Iran, according to a New York city pension fund official who has been pressing for the move as a shareholder in the company. New York City Comptroller William Thompson said that the company agreed to the move in response to a shareholder resolution submitted by three of the city's pension funds.

Thompson released a letter from Halliburton vice president Margaret Carriere stating that the company "will take appropriate corporate action to cause its subsidiaries not to bid for any new work in Iran." The letter added that "existing contracts and commitments which the subsidiaries have previously undertaken will be honored."

Halliburton, a company in the news because of its former chief executive - Vice President Dick Cheney - and for its numerous dealings in Iraq, earlier this year had won a major contract to drill for gas in Iran despite U.S. sanctions against foreign investment in the country's energy industry.

Thompson said the pension funds he oversees have over the past two years "aggressively targeted five companies that have used loopholes in the law to conduct business with terrorist-sponsoring nations."

He added, "I am encouraged that Halliburton has since promised to take the necessary steps to ensure shareholders that they will not in any way advance the reach of terrorism through their business activities."

Halliburton chairman Dave Lesar in January said the company would cease activities in Iran, saying the economic climate was not favorable.

The company has acknowledged a U.S. government probe into its operations in Iran through a Cayman Islands subsidiary. - AFP


Cultural Barbarism

The Nation
03/23/2005 @ 2:45pm

The sterile term "collateral damage" justifiably brings to mind the human tragedy of war. But the devastating and wanton damage inflicted on the ancient city of Babylon by US-led military forces gives another meaning to the term. In this case, we are witnessing violence against one of the world's greatest cultural treasures. Babylon's destruction, according to The Guardian, "must rank as one of the most reckless acts of cultural vandalism in recent memory." When Camp Babylon was established by US-led international forces in April 2003, leading archeologists and international experts on ancient civilizations warned of potential peril and damage. It was "tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt or around Stonehenge in Britain," according to a damning report issued in January by the British Museum.

The report, drafted by Dr. John Curtis--one of the world's leading archeologists--documents that the military base, built and overseen by Kellog, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, jeopardized what is often referred to as the "mother of all archeological sites." Helicopter landing places and parking lots for heavy vehicles caused substantial damage to the Ishtar Gate, one of the most famous monuments from antiquity. US military vehicles crushed 2,600 year old brick pavement, archeological fragments were scattered across the site, trenches were driven into ancient deposits and military earth-moving projects contaminated the site for future generations of scientists. As several eminent archeologists have pointed out, while the looting of the Iraqi Museum in the first days of the war was horrifying, the destruction of ancient sites has even more dire consequences for those trying to piece together the history of civilization. Making matters worse, the base has created a tempting target for insurgent attacks in recent months. As Yaseen Madhloom al-Rubai reports in the valuable Iraq Crisis Report (No. 117), "It was one of the seven wonders of the world, but ancient Babylon attracts more insurgents than tourists these days."

"Turning Babylon into a military site was a fatal mistake," the Iraqi culture Minister told Iraq Crisis Report. "It has witnessed much destruction and many terrorist attacks since it was occupied by Coalition Forces. We cannot determine the scale of destruction now. As a first step, we have completely closed the sites, before calling in international experts to evaluate the damage done to the [ancient] city and the compensation the ministry should ask Coalition forces to pay. We will run a campaign to save the city."

That campaign is finding allies among a growing network of archeologists outraged by the unnecessary destruction of an irreplaceable site. John Curtis, author of the British Museum's Report, has called for an international investigation by archeologists chosen by the Iraqis to survey and record all the damage done.

The overall situation in Iraq is overwhelmingly a human tragedy but that does not exempt the US authorities, who set up Camp Babylon, from the consequences of what The Guardian called an act of "cultural barbarism"--carried out in their name by a subsidiary of Halliburton. There must be a full investigation of the damage caused, and Halliburton should be made to offer whatever compensation is possible for the wanton destruction of the world's cultural treasure.

Administration Withheld Halliburton Overcharges from International Auditors

Rep. Waxman reveals that Administration officials, acting at the request of Halliburton, redacted a Pentagon report to conceal more than $100 million in fuel overcharges from international auditors overseeing the Development Fund for Iraq.

Halliburton Charged Too Much for Fuel, Say Auditors

Tue Mar 15, 2005 04:55 PM ET

By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Military auditors still have "major" unresolved issues with Halliburton, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, a day after Democratic congressmen released an audit questioning $108 million in costs by the contractor.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the audit, which found $108 million in questionable fuel delivery costs in Iraq by Halliburton unit Kellogg Brown and Root, was conducted to determine whether "fair and reasonable" prices were charged.

"The majority of costs questioned in this audit report are because DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency) auditors believe that KBR paid an unreasonable price for the fuel," the spokeswoman said.

She added that Halliburton's client, the Army Corps of Engineers, was working hard to finalize negotiations on prices charged under the no-bid oil contract awarded before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

"The major issues in this audit report have not been resolved," she said, without providing details.

Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of California, one of the congressmen who released the audit, said in a statement on Tuesday that Bush administration officials heavily edited a copy of the audit at Halliburton's request before it was sent to U.N.-mandated auditors overseeing the Development Fund for Iraq.

U.N. auditors have been critical of delays in getting documents and asked for a full accounting on DFI funds, made up of proceeds from Iraq oil sales, frozen assets from foreign governments and surplus from the U.N.'s Oil for Food Program.

More than $1.7 billion in these Iraqi funds were paid to Halliburton to bring fuel to Iraq, which despite being oil rich suffered from a shortage of refined products.


Waxman, who released copies of both the redacted and non-edited audits, said documents that were cut attempted to conceal the more than $100 million in queried costs. He asked for a special congressional hearing to discuss the issue.

Halliburton, which was run by Vice President Dick Cheney until he joined the race for the White House in 2000, has said it delivered fuel for the best possible price.

Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said the Freedom of Information Act allows the company to redact "confidential commercial information." She said the government made the final decision over what should be edited.

"Any attempt to criticize KBR for its role in this perfectly normal and legal part of the contracting process is unfounded and clearly not based in fact," she said.

Hall said KBR would continue to work with its client to prove "once and for all that KBR has delivered vital services for U.S. troops and the Iraqi people at a fair and reasonable cost, given the circumstances."

Army Corps spokeswoman Carol Sanders said the Corps was looking at a series of audits before starting final negotiations with KBR over prices.

KBR is the U.S. military's biggest contractor in Iraq and is under investigation by several U.S. government departments over whether it overcharged for some services.

The lawyer for an Army Corps of Engineers whistle-blower said his client was set to be interviewed for a second time on April 4 by Pentagon investigators over her claims of contracting abuse involving KBR.

Bunny Greenhouse, the Army Corps' top contracting official, met for a full day in November with the FBI and the Pentagon's Criminal Investigative Division. Much of that questioning focused on the oil contract.

Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn, said he could not provide further details over the next interview's focus.


Halliburton operates in Iran despite sanctions
How do U.S. contractors legally do business there?

By Lisa Myers & the NBC investigative unit
Updated: 12:24 a.m. ET March 8, 2005

It's just another Halliburton oil and gas operation. The company name is emblazoned everywhere: On trucks, equipment, large storage silos and workers' uniforms.

But this isn't Texas. It's Iran. U.S. companies aren't supposed to do business here.

Yet, in January, Halliburton won a contract to drill at a huge Iranian gas field called Pars, which an Iranian government spokesman said "served the interests" of Iran.

"I am baffled that any American company would want to have employees operating in Iran," says Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "I would think they'd be ashamed."

Halliburton says the operation — videotaped by NBC News — is entirely legal. It's run by a subsidiary called "Halliburton Products and Services Limited," based outside the U.S. In fact, the law allows foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations to do business in Iran under strict conditions.

Other U.S. oil services companies, like Weatherford and Baker Hughes, also are in Iran. And foreign subsidiaries of NBC's parent company, General Electric, have sold equipment to Iran, though the company says it will make no more sales. (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

Still, Halliburton stands out because its operations in Iran are now under a federal criminal investigation. Government sources say the focus is on whether the company set out to illegally evade the sanctions imposed ten years ago.

"I am formally announcing my intention to cut off all trade and investment with Iran," announced President Bill Clinton in 1995.

Sources close to the Halliburton investigation tell NBC News that after that announcement, Halliburton decided that business with Iran, then conducted through at least five companies, would all be done through a subsidiary incorporated in the Cayman Islands.

"It's gotten around the sanctions and the very spirit and reasons for the sanctions," says Victor Comras, a former State Department expert on sanctions.

For Halliburton to have done this legally, the foreign subsidiary operating in Iran must be independent of the main operation in Texas. Yet, when an NBC producer approached managers in Iran, he was sent to company officials in Dubai. But they said only Halliburton headquarters in Houston could talk about operations in Iran. Still, Halliburton maintains its Iran subsidiary does make independent business decisions.

Why should Americans even care if U.S. companies circumvent the sanctions?

"The purpose of these sanctions is to dissuade Iran from supporting terrorism and from seeking to acquire weapons of mass destruction," says Comras.

There's a move in Congress to close the loophole.

"We don't want American companies propping up a government that's dedicated to our destruction," says Sen. Collins.

Halliburton says it is unfairly targeted because of politics, but recently announced it is pulling out of Iran because the business environment "is not conducive to our overall strategies and objectives."

However, that exit will be slow. Halliburton announced it was leaving Iran only three weeks after Iran announced the lucrative new gas deal, which industry sources say will take three years to complete.


Halliburton admits it 'may have' criminally rigged bids on contracts
2 March 2005

WASHINGTON, March 2 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The U.S. Justice Department has opened a criminal inquiry into possible bid-rigging on foreign contracts by Halliburton, the company revealed Tuesday.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company said "information has been uncovered" that former employees of KBR "may have engaged in coordinated bidding with one or more competitors on certain foreign construction projects and that such coordination possibly began as early as the mid-1980s...."

"Coordinating" with competitors to secure contracts with foreign governments is anticompetitive and a violation of U.S. antitrust law. The practice, known as "bid rigging," is punishable by criminal fines and denial of future contracts with the U.S. government.

KBR became a subidiary of Halliburton in 1998 when former chief executive and current U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney orchestrated the merger with Dresser Industries.

The SEC filing also revealed that the Justice Department is investigating "whether former employees may have received payments in connection with bidding practices on some foreign projects." In other words, authorities are investigating whether KBR paid bribes to foreign governments for the purpose of rigging the contracting process and whether KBR employees received kickbacks. The filing did not indicate which foreign governments are involved. The company has already admitted that it "may" have bribed the government of Nigeria during the period when Vice President Cheney was chief executive. The Justice Department, France and Nigeria have been investigating the matter for over a year.

The SEC filing said the bid rigging allegations could lead to criminal prosecutions by foreign governments.

More Information:

Reuters: Halliburton Says Justice Dept Probes Foreign Bids

AP: Halliburton, Justice expand bribery probes