How to Make Money & Influence People
Halliburton Corporation - which has become a household name in the annals of corporate greed and corruption - is once again in the news. After the Bush family had bombed one of the most technologically advanced nations in the Arab world back into the Stone Age, the company formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney has been at the forefront of no-bid contracts to provide food, fuel and other supplies for US forces in Iraq as well as other services related to Iraq's devastated oil industry in the so-called "rebuilding" of the country.
But Halliburton has also been at the forefront of corruption scandal after corruption scandal - and not just in Iraq. The latest discovery is that a senior US Army contracting officer has complained that a $7 billion contract to restore Iraqi oil fields secretly awarded to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) just before last year's invasion, was completely unjustified and violated all procedural requirements.
Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, chief contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers last week sent a letter to Army Secretary Les Brownlee saying that KBR had not been proven to have unique attributes that would justify a no-bid contract and that such was the level of back-scratching between the Army and Halliburton that KBR officials were actually allowed to sit in on Pentagon meetings at which such contracts were discussed.
Greenhouse, who has been threatened with demotion, said that she was constantly prevented from doing her job of monitoring such contracts, and earlier in October refused to approve a $165 million extension to a contract for Halliburton to provide supplies to US troops stationed in the Balkans. The White House nonetheless got her deputy to sign the order.
Kellogg Brown & Root is already under investigation for grossly overcharging for its services in Iraq and yet it is awarded a contract that extends its business with the US Army across all of Europe. It not only faces investigations by the US Justice Department but also the Securities and Exchange Commission over illegal and corrupt dealings elsewhere in the world - notably in Nigeria and Iran.
The list of corrupt practices by Halliburton and subsequent efforts to protect it by the US White House is too long for this editorial which, if repeated, would turn it into a book.
Suffice to mention that in 1998 and 1999 KBR was involved in a scheme to funnel $180 million in bribes to Nigerian officials to obtain preferential oil exploration contracts. In 2003 KBR was found to have overcharged $61 million on a fuel contract for Iraq and $67 million for food in Kuwait and Iraq. And two months ago the Pentagon found that $1.8 billion of work by Kellogg Brown & Root in Iraq had not been properly documented.
The current US administration has done everything in its power to prevent any investigation or review of its corrupt relationship with Cheney's former company.
Could it be that Bush, Cheney and company are more than a little worried about what the courts will do to them if they lose the election next week?
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