Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal


Iraq insurgency in 'last throes,' Cheney says

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 Posted: 3:50 AM EDT (0750 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The insurgency in Iraq is "in the last throes," Vice President Dick Cheney says, and he predicts that the fighting will end before the Bush administration leaves office.

In a wide-ranging interview Monday on CNN's "Larry King Live," Cheney cited the recent push by Iraqi forces to crack down on insurgent activity in Baghdad and reports that the most-wanted terrorist leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been wounded.

The vice president said he expected the war would end during President Bush's second term, which ends in 2009.

"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Cheney was among the Bush administration's most forceful advocates of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Bush, Cheney and other top officials said war was necessary because Iraq was maintaining illicit stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and concealing a nuclear weapons program from U.N. weapons inspectors and could have provided those weapons to terrorists.

No banned weapons were found after U.S. troops deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's government, though U.S. inspectors said Iraq was concealing some weapons-related research from the United Nations.

Nevertheless, Cheney said he was "absolutely convinced we did the right thing in Iraq." He said the United States was making "major progress" in Iraq, where a transitional government took power in April and was working on drafting a new constitution.

"America will be safer in the long run when Iraq, and Afghanistan as well, are no longer safe havens for terrorists or places where people can gather and plan and organize attacks against the United States," he said.

Saddam's government collapsed in just three weeks, but a persistent guerrilla campaign against U.S. troops and the fledgling Iraqi government has lasted more than two years. The number of U.S. troops killed in the conflict now tops 1,650, and estimates of the number of Iraqi deaths range into the tens of thousands.

Since the conflict, the Jordanian-born Islamic militant al-Zarqawi has been blamed for dozens of bombings that have left hundreds of people dead. Reports emerged last week that he had been wounded in combat -- but in an audiotaped statement released Monday on militant Islamic Web sites, a man claiming to be al-Zarqawi said the injury was minor.

Cheney: Detainees treated well

Items compiled from Tribune news services
Published May 31, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Vice President Dick Cheney has emphatically defended the handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying they have been "well treated, treated humanely and decently" and that some accusations to the contrary were lies.

The vice president largely dismissed assertions that guards or questioners at the U.S. naval base had mishandled the Koran or beaten detainees. He said repeatedly that freed detainees were "peddling lies."

The remarks were made in an interview taped Friday for "Larry King Live" on CNN on Monday night. Amnesty International last week compared the detention center to a gulag-style camp. Asked about that, Cheney replied, "Frankly, I was offended by it."

"What we're doing down there has, I think, been done perfectly appropriately," Cheney added.


Protestors Disrupt Halliburton Meeting
— 16 Arrested, Dozen Trampled By Horses, Say Activists —

HOUSTON — The annual Halliburton shareholders meeting in Houston was interrupted last Wednesday morning by a group of about 300 protestors from around Texas. Twelves activists were said to have gained access to the meeting; four women and 12 men were arrested.
The protestors, marching with puppets and signs to the Four Seasons Hotel, were confronted by over 30 Houston police officers on horseback and a number of undercover cops on foot with others in uniform. Barricades were erected the night prior.
The Houston-based company, the world’s largest oil-field contractor, has been criticized over the last several years for fraud as government regulators examine allegations of overbilling. Thousands of Halliburton employees and subcontractors work in Iraq.
Of the 12 activists who found their way inside the hotel, four were escorted out by hotel security and police. The rest were detained. The Houston Chronicle reported that those who sneaked into the hotel wore business attire. Outside, a person dressed like Vice President Dick Cheney (a former Halliburton CEO) reportedly flashed people as activists played a samba and danced.
“Andrea Buffa and Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange got inside meeting and directly questioned Halliburton CEO David Lesar. Prathap Chatterjee of Corp-Watch had a private five-minute meeting with him which ended in vague assurances,” said the Indymedia report posted anonymously.
“Outside, things began heating up with pushing, cops on horses and arrests. Some concerns have been raised about cruelty to the horses. The horses trampled several people. Police used pain compliance on occupation inside hotel.”
The crowd from last year’s protest was larger than this year’s, but last Wednesday’s protest was more aggressive, said police.
Officers were said to have given protesters orders to stay off the streets and behind blockades. Television and personal video footage taken of the event that day shows that the police on horseback rammed into the protests who were on foot holding signs and yelling, “Shame on you!”
The protesters arrested and taken to city jail were charged with evading arrest, trespassing, assaulting officers, and assaulting a police horse.
According to Houston Indymedia, those protesters who were arrested inside the hotel were Herb Rothschild, David Graeve, Katie Heim, Ellie Shenker, Maureen Haver, Diane Wilson, Jonathan Kresha and Kendle Greenlee. Those arrested outside included David Solnit, an anonymous male, James Foley, Baku, David Martinez, Andy Peterson, Rolando Maya, Chris McMullen. Two Indymedia videographers, Baku and David Martinez, were arrested while shooting video. Martinez was dragged by his neck by an officer.
In a prepared statement, Halliburton representatives said, “Halliburton supports the rights of protesters. Even if they don’t have the facts right, they have a right to speak up.”
The media were not allowed inside the shareholders meeting and subsequent protest.
During the meeting, shareholders elected directors and approved retaining the company’s auditor. The company currently has a contract to provide meals, shelter, and other support to the troops.
Another contract is being drawn up to rebuild southern Iraq’s oil industry, while plans to sell or spin off the company’s subsidiary KBR is in the works.

— Details of this story were taken from reports on Houston Indymedia (www.houston.indymedia.org) and the Houston Chronicle.


Protesters Flank Halliburton Meeting

05.18.2005, 04:12 PM

More than 200 protesters flanked Halliburton Co.'s annual shareholders meeting Wednesday, adding drama to an otherwise perfunctory gathering to elect directors and retain auditors. Fifteen were arrested.

"I'm here to stand against corporate greed," said Cynthia Daly of Dallas, criticizing the oil services conglomerate's work in Iraq. She was one of two protesters whose feet were stepped on by police horses when demonstrating. Paramedics treated their injuries at the scene.

The two injured protesters were part of a group that blocked the exit of a parking garage, and mounted officers used the horses to push them out of the way after they ignored orders to move.

"Everything's been a public relations nightmare for them," Jeff Grubler, a protester from San Francisco, told the group more than an hour after the meeting ended. "We have to keep the nightmare going."

The protest, which had been planned and advertised for weeks, attracted fewer participants than the estimated 500 that appeared outside last year's shareholders meeting. Halliburton shares fell 73 cents, or 1.8 percent, to close at $40.78 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Halliburton, run by Vice President Dick Cheney for five years until he resigned in 2000 to be President Bush's running mate, has been under fire since the beginning of the war in Iraq. Its engineering and construction subsidiary, KBR, is the largest U.S. contractor in Iraq with more than $10 billion in work orders from the Army to support U.S. troops and rebuild Iraq's oil industry.

Various agencies are investigating allegations of overbilling and favoritism because of Cheney's past connections, but the company has consistently denied wrongdoing. Cheney and the Pentagon also have said the vice president plays no role in contract decisions.

J.D. Hughes of Austin, a buyer and seller of oil properties who has been a Halliburton shareholder for seven years, said he was unfazed by critics.

"I came here to show my support for Halliburton," he said.

Dave Lesar, Halliburton's chairman and chief executive, said after the meeting that Halliburton "is still evaluating" how to separate KBR from the parent company.

Lesar also said recent drops in oil and gas prices haven't affected Halliburton's business. Crude oil prices that surpassed $58 a barrel last month fell to less than $48 on Wednesday.

"Clearly, at least the short-term slide back in commodity prices doesn't seem to have had an impact on our U.S. business. Our customers certainly still have plenty of cash flow," Lesar said.

Outside, at least 25 mounted police officers lined up behind barricades to prevent protesters from disrupting the meeting. Eight got inside, sat down and locked arms. They were bound either with handcuffs or flex cuffs and led or carried away.

Houston police Lt. Robert Manzo said seven of those who got inside were arrested for criminal trespass. Another eight were arrested outside for evading arrest or misdemeanor assault charges for kicking or hitting police officers and one of the horses.

"Halliburton supports the rights of protesters," the company said in a statement. "Even if they don't have the facts right, they have a right to speak up."


Energy Policy: Cheney's big secret


An appellate court has settled the question of the letter of the law as it applies to Vice President Dick Cheney's energy policy task force disclosures. But that does not relieve the Bush administration of the obligation to respect the spirit of transparency in the way it forms public policy.

Tuesday, the court unanimously rejected the proposition that anyone but administration officials -- not energy industry representatives -- "had a right to vote on committee matters or exercise a veto over committee proposals" during the task force's meetings in 2001. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch, had argued that those industry officials had effectively become members of the task force.

An attempt last year to get the U.S. Supreme Court to order the Bush administration to detail relationships with energy company officials -- including infamous Enron Corp. Chief Executive Ken Lay -- was also rejected. The high court cited a "paramount necessity of protecting the executive branch from vexatious litigation." Oh, those activist judges again.

So now, valiantly defended against any vexatious litigation, the Bush administration ought to come clean anyway, at least disclosing the names of those with whom the task force met, so that citizens and energy consumers can draw their own conclusions about how balanced was the administration's pursuit of its energy policy.


Halliburton gets $72 mln bonus for work in Iraq

Tue May 10, 2005 06:57 PM ET
By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army said on Tuesday it had awarded $72 million in bonuses to Halliburton Co. for logistics work in Iraq but had not decided whether to give the Texas company bonuses for disputed dining services to troops.

Army Field Support Command in Rock Island, Illinois, said in a statement it had given Halliburton unit Kellogg Brown & Root ratings from "excellent" to "very good" for six task orders for work supporting U.S. troops in Iraq.

The Army said its Award Fee Board in Iraq had met in March and had agreed to pay KBR bonuses for work it did in support of U.S. forces there.

The Army said in a statement later that while it had given the company an additional $72 million, it had denied KBR $10.1 million in bonuses and not paid the maximum allowed on any of the task orders.

"We have protected the taxpayer FIRST," said the Army in a statement released later, pointing out this paragraph had been "inadvertently left off" the original news release.

The Army said dining facility costs questioned by auditors from the Defense Contract Audit Agency had not yet been considered by the military's Award Fee Board. No details were available as to when this dining fee bonus would be resolved.

Much of Halliburton's work for the U.S. military, ranging from building bases to delivering mail, is on a cost-plus basis, which means the company can earn up to 2 percent extra depending on its performance.

Bonuses are awarded based on, among other factors, how efficient and responsible the company is to requests from the Army and is an indicator of how the Army views KBR's performance in the field.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a vocal critic of Halliburton's performance in Iraq, said Halliburton did not deserve a bonus.

"It is outrageous that the Bush Administration would give Halliburton a bonus after we have seen its overcharges, sloppy accounting and kick-back schemes in Iraq," Lautenberg said. "Giving Halliburton a bonus is like giving your worst employee a raise."

KBR's logistics deal with the U.S. military has been in the spotlight from the outset in Iraq, with allegations by auditors that they overcharged for some work, including dining services.

In addition, investigators are looking into whether the Texas-based firm charged too much to supply fuel to Iraqi civilians, a claim the firm says is not justified.

Halliburton, which was run by Vice President Dick Cheney until he joined the 2000 race for the White House, has earned more than $7 billion under its 2001 logistics contract with the U.S. military.


Court upholds secrecy for Cheney's energy task force

From Tribune news services
Published May 11, 2005

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. appeals court threw out a lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday and ruled that he was free to meet in secret with energy industry lobbyists in 2001 while drawing up the president's energy policy.

The unanimous ruling all but ends a four-year legal battle over Cheney's task force, one that drew in the Supreme Court and Justice Antonin Scalia. It comes as Congress weighs energy legislation that President Bush says will combine efficiency with environmental protection, and that his critics say is a gift to the energy industry.

Previously, the same appeals court ruled 2-1 to uphold a judge's order for Cheney to turn over the names of the oil and gas industry officials who met with his energy policy task force. But the Supreme Court said this was wrong and urged the appellate judges to take another look.

This time the court declared 8-0 that the president and vice president have no duty to tell the public when they seek advice from outsiders.

"In making decisions on personnel and policy, and in formulating legislative proposals, the president must be free to seek confidential information from many sources, both inside the government and outside," said Judge Ray Randolph in an opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Therefore, the Sierra Club and the Judicial Watch had no legal right to know who met with Cheney's energy policy task force in 2001, the court said.

Open-government law

The Sierra Club, a liberal environmental group, and Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, had sued Cheney. They alleged that he violated a 1972 open-government law known as the Federal Advisory Committee Act. It says that when top executive officials seek outside advice, they must do so in public, not behind closed doors.

A federal judge agreed that the lawsuit had some merit and he ordered the vice president to turn over documents that described who participated in the meetings. Cheney refused and appealed the issue to the Supreme Court. In December 2003, the Supreme Court voted to hear Cheney's case. Three weeks later, Scalia flew with Cheney to go duck hunting in Louisiana.

The Sierra Club lawyers asked Scalia to step aside, and he refused. Last June the Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision set aside the appeals court ruling. Scalia joined the majority.

Bush administration lawyers had argued that it was unconstitutional to force the president or the vice president to disclose whom they met with in private. The justices agreed in part, saying the appeals court had failed to consider the "weighty separation-of-powers issue" raised by the lawsuit.

In Tuesday's opinion, the appeals court stopped short of saying it was unconstitutional to force Cheney to disclose the participants in his task force meetings. Instead, its opinion reinterpreted the 1972 open-government law to say it did not apply to this case.

The opinion cited the declarations of two senior administration officials as key to their decision. Outsiders may have met with Cheney's task force but they were not truly members of it, Randolph said. All the true members of the task force were Bush administration officials, and therefore the National Energy Policy Task Force was not governed by the open-disclosure rules of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, he said.

"The outsider might make an important presentation, he might be persuasive, the information he provides might affect the committee's judgment. But having neither a vote nor a veto over the advice the committee renders to the president, he is no more a member of the committee than the aides who accompany congressmen or Cabinet offices to committee meetings," Randolph wrote.

The decision by the full court is unusual for two reasons, according to law professors and attorneys involved in the case.

First, it is unanimous, an atypical result for a court whose members hold a wide spectrum of views on government regulation and executive powers. Second, it accepts largely as fact the assertions of two senior administration officials, without allowing the opposing side to challenge or question them.

During the Clinton administration, the same appeals court had given the 1972 law a broader scope and said it applied to the health policy task force led by Hillary Rodham Clinton. Then, the appeals court said outside participants who met within a White House advisory group were "de facto members" and therefore the public had a right to know about the meetings.

The Freedom of Information Act allows the public to learn about how decisions are made by federal agencies but it does not apply to the White House.

Decision being studied

David Bookbinder, the senior attorney for the Sierra Club, said the issues raised in the lawsuit were "more relevant today than ever," given the pending energy bill. Bookbinder said he would study Tuesday's decision in the hope of finding grounds to get the appeals court to reconsider, or perhaps to persuade the Supreme Court to review the case again.


Contracts for Halliburton Again?

Posted to the web May 4, 2005


The ambivalence in certain actions of the Obasanjo Administration may undermine the current campaign against corruption. In one breadth, government officials talk of a new resolve to root out corruption, and in another, they take actions that only leave a huge question on their sincerity.

In our calculation, there is no greater proof of such ambiguity than the recent decision by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its joint venture partner, ChevronTexaco, to award a $1.7 billion contract to KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton of the United States. The contract is for the engineering, procurement and construction of gas-to-liquid (GTL) plant in Escravos.

This contract hoists a banner that eloquently proclaims that all sorts of impunity are possible here even in the face of a government that seeks to be judged on its drive against graft. To understand the import of this contract and its potential to damage the foundation of the ethical order, it is necessary to recap Halliburton's impunity and disregard for Nigeria.

Shortly after the end of the Abacha Administration, it was reported that KBR and its partners in the TSKJ Consortium had bribed Nigerian government officials to secure a contract to build the first two trains in the liquefied natural gas plant in Bonny. The matter is subject to litigation in a French court at the moment. Later it was revealed that Halliburton had bribed tax officials to have them under-value its obligations. The company has owned up to the malfeasance. Surprisingly, no official of the company has been prosecuted in Nigeria. This aside, Halliburton was found to have aided the theft of radioactive materials used in oil drilling brought into Nigeria. The material was intercepted in one of the countries of the European Union (EU) and has been brought back to Nigeria.

Irked by the company's disrespect of Nigeria, the House of Representatives passed a motion blacklisting Halliburton or any of its subsidiaries from future contracts in Nigeria. The overwhelming sentiment was that regardless of the company's competence, it has no right to disrespect Nigeria's laws and engage in practices that are not condoned even in its country of origin.

Hopes that the government would use the Halliburton precedent to call multinationals to order were dashed when KBR was awarded another contract. To make matters worse, KBR is said to have produced a letter from the presidency reportedly clearing it to undertake business in Nigeria. This is against the subsisting ban by the House of Representatives.

This matter raises a lot of questions. Who issued the attestation for KBR at the presidency? Even if there was any reason to award a new contract to KBR, it should not have been done in so cavalier a manner and as if to spite parliament.

Up till this point, there is nothing to show that Halliburton has turned a new leaf. The reason while it has been indicted in the US, Iraq and several other countries, where it does business still exist here. We can understand that government officials for some reasons have refused to take action on the company. But it is beyond comprehension that the same company will be rewarded with a new contract, barely six months after it was blacklisted.

In this light, we support the action of the House of Representatives, especially the move by its public petitions committee to hold a hearing on the contract. We commend the efforts of this committee in seeking to bring Halliburton to justice, and wonder why the committee on gas and the anti corruption committees of the House and Senate have kept quiet so far.

It is wrong to think that corruption exists only in the public sector. Far from that, multinational corporations have been found to prefer to bribe public officials to gain advantage over their rivals or to undervalue their tax and social obligations. Halliburton has been found guilty of both and must be heavily sanctioned.

We call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the origin of that letter on whose strength KBR won the contract. Regardless of the company's competence, we call for a suspension of this contract until these actions are taken.