Cheney's boundless Iraq profiteering
By The Age
"The Age" -- -- Things are going well in Iraq for the invaders. Well, at least for some people, such as US Vice-President Richard Cheney. He is receiving more than $US1 million ($A1.3 million) a year from Halliburton, the company of which he was CEO from 1995 to 2000, in "deferred remuneration" while he is VP. He is worth every penny.
Last week, two Democrat senators and a house member wrote to Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld asking if he knew about Halliburton's latest money-making dodge in Iraq. Keep in mind that Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and Root, have a nice little earner going in supplying support for the US Army and for, ostensibly, putting out oil well fires. The Centre for Public Integrity in Washington counts Halliburton's windfall at more than $US10 billion - a little bit coming from the US Treasury but most coming from Iraqi oil revenue that is supposed to be used to reconstruct the country for the benefit of the people. The centre counts another 30 members of the Defence Policy Board with ties to American companies with $US76 billion (as of 2002) in largely uncontested and un-auditable military contracts.
The Democrats reckon that Halliburton may have overstepped even its sloppy moral line by making life impossible for another American company that has committed the crime of undercutting the Vice-President's company.
In their letter to Rumsfeld, the Democrats say that US company Lloyd-Owen International is being prevented from delivering fuel to Iraq from Kuwait (Who says the liberation hasn't been a success? What next? Ice to the Inuit?) by forcing LOI trucks to use a civilian crossing where the checks are so slow that the company can't get its 140 trucks a day through. The speedy, wave-'em-through military crossing is controlled by who? The Iraqi military? The US military? Nope, by the Vice-President's firm, which is also in the fuel delivery business.
The Democrats say that the LOI crime is delivering fuel to Iraq for 18 US cents a gallon while Halliburton provides the same service at $US1.30 a gallon. The LOI spokesman says he could understand if Halliburton simply doubled the price, to 36 US cents a gallon. But at $US1.30 a gallon even a Texas carpetbagger should blush.
Halliburton has a $US2.5 billion contract for managing the fuel distribution system in Iraq. The man from LOI says that "we have not, to date, seen a functioning KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) piece of equipment to where we deliver". He also says that his chaps have only come across one KBR employee at these sites.
LOI needed Defence Department ID cards to make its deliveries and, in order to get them from - you guessed it - Halliburton, they had to make a delivery for Mr Cheney of construction material to Fallujah last month. The convoy was attacked and three men were killed and seven injured. KBR staff were ordered not to provide any assistance to the injured. "Many people volunteered to help, but were told not to by our management," according to a Halliburton employee. Presumably the convoy crew were a bunch of mercenaries, in Iraq to make a buck.
As George the Smaller told an audience at the West Point and Virginia Military Institute, America is "the single surviving model of human progress".
Copyright © 2005. The Age Company Ltd.