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> SAN FRANCISCO BAY GUARDIAN > Reality Bites > Monday, November 13, 2000 > http://www.sfbg.com/reality/04.html > By Martin A. Lee > > Here's a whopper of a story you may have missed amid the cacophony of > campaign ads and stump speeches in the run-up to the elections. During > former defense secretary Richard Cheney's five-year tenure as chief > executive of Halliburton, Inc., his oil services firm raked in big > bucks > from dubious commercial dealings with Iraq. Cheney left Halliburton > with a > $34 million retirement package last July when he became the GOP's > vice-presidential candidate. > > Of course, U.S. firms aren't generally supposed to do business with > Saddam > Hussein. But thanks to legal loopholes large enough to steer an oil > tanker > through, Halliburton profited big-time from deals with the Iraqi > dictatorship. Conducted discreetly through several Halliburton > subsidiaries > in Europe, these greasy transactions helped Saddam Hussein retain his > grip > on power while lining the pockets of Cheney and company. > > According to the Financial Times of London, between September 1988 > and last > winter, Cheney, as CEO of Halliburton, oversaw $23.8 million of > business > contracts for the sale of oil-industry equipment and services to Iraq > through two of its subsidiaries, Dresser Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser > Pump, > which helped rebuild Iraq's war-damaged petroleum-production > infrastructure. The combined value of these contracts exceeded those > of any > other U.S. company doing business with Baghdad. > > Halliburton was among more than a dozen American firms that supplied > Iraq's > petroleum industry with spare parts and retooled its oil rigs when > U.N. > sanctions were eased in 1998. Cheney's company utilized subsidiaries > in > France, Italy, Germany, and Austria so as not to draw undue attention > to > controversial business arrangements that might embarrass Washington > and > jeopardize lucrative ties to Iraq, which will pump $24 billion of > petrol > under the U.N.-administered oil-for-food program this year. Assisted > by > Halliburton, Hussein's government will earn another $1 billion by > illegally > exporting oil through black-market channels. > > With Cheney at the helm since 1995, Halliburton quickly grew into > America's > number-one oil-services company, the fifth-largest military > contractor, and > the biggest nonunion employer in the nation. Although Cheney claimed > that > the U.S. government "had absolutely nothing to do" with his firm's > meteoric > financial success, State Department documents obtained by the Los > Angeles > Times indicate that U.S. officials helped Halliburton secure major > contracts in Asia and Africa. Halliburton now does business in 130 > countries and employs more than 100,000 workers worldwide. Its 1999 > income > was a cool $15 billion. > > In addition to Iraq, Halliburton counts among its business partners > several > brutal dictatorships that have committed egregious human rights > abuses, > including the hated military regime in Burma (Myanmar). EarthRights, a > Washington, D.C.-based human rights watchdog, condemned Halliburton > for two > energy-pipeline projects in Burma that led to the forced relocation of > villages, rape, murder, indentured labor, and other crimes against > humanity. A full report (this is a 45 page pdf file - > http://www.earthrights.org/Halliburton/report.pd - there is also a > brief > http://www.earthrights.org/news/halliburton.html - summary) on the > Burma > connection, "Halliburton's Destructive Engagement," can be accessed on > EarthRights' Web site, > http://www.earthrights.org/news/halliburton.html. > > Human rights activists have also criticized Cheney's company for its > questionable role in Algeria, Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, Haiti, Rwanda, > Somalia, Indonesia, and other volatile trouble spots. In Russia, > Halliburton's partner, Tyumen Oil, has been accused of committing > massive > fraud to gain control of a Siberian oil field. And in oil-rich > Nigeria, > Halliburton worked with Shell and Chevron, which were implicated in > gross > human rights violations and environmental calamities in that country. > Indeed, Cheney's firm increased its involvement in the Niger Delta > after > the military government executed several ecology activists and crushed > popular protests against the oil industry. > > Halliburton also had business dealings in Iran and Libya, which > remain on > the State Department's list of terrorist states. Brown and Root, a > Halliburton subsidiary, was fined $3.8 million for reexporting U.S. > goods > to Libya in violation of U.S. sanctions. > > But in terms of sheer hypocrisy, Halliburton's relationship with > Saddam > Hussein is hard to top. What's more, Cheney lied about his company's > activities in Iraq when journalists fleetingly raised the issue > during the > campaign. > > Questioned by Sam Donaldson on ABC's This Week program in August, > Cheney > bluntly asserted that Halliburton had no dealings with the Iraqi > regime > while he was on board. > > Donaldson: I'm told, and correct me if I'm wrong, that Halliburton, > through > subsidiaries, was actually trying to do business in Iraq? > > Cheney: No. No. I had a firm policy that I wouldn't do anything in > Iraq - > even arrangements that were supposedly legal. > > And that was it! ABC News and the other U.S. networks dropped the > issue > like a hot potato. As damning information about Halliburton surfaced > in the > European press, American reporters stuck to old routines and took > their > cues on how to cover the campaign from the two main political > parties, both > of which had very little to say about official U.S. support for > abusive > corporate policies at home and abroad. > > But why, in this instance, didn't the Democrats stomp and scream about > Cheney's Iraq connection? The Gore campaign undoubtedly knew of > Halliburton's smarmy business dealings from the get-go. Gore and > Lieberman > could have made hay about how the wannabe GOP veep had been in > cahoots with > Saddam. Such explosive revelations may well have swayed voters and > boosted > Gore's chances in what was shaping up to be a close electoral contest. > > The Democratic standard-bearers dropped the ball in part because > Halliburton's conduct was generally in accordance with the foreign > policy > of the Clinton administration. Cheney is certainly not the only > Washington > mover and shaker to have been affiliated with a company trading in > Iraq. > Former CIA Director John Deutsch, who served in a Democratic > administration, is a member of the board of directors of > Schlumberger, the > second-largest U.S. oil-services company, which also does business > through > subsidiaries in Iraq. Despite occasional rhetorical skirmishes, a > bipartisan foreign-policy consensus prevails on Capital Hill, where > the > commitment to human rights, with a few notable exceptions, is about > as deep > as an oil slick. > > Truth be told, trading with the enemy is a time-honored American > corporate > practice - or perhaps "malpractice" would be a more appropriate > description > of big-business ties to repressive regimes. Given that Saddam > Hussein, the > pariah du jour, has often been compared to Hitler, it's worth > pointing out > that several blue-chip U.S. firms profited from extensive commercial > dealings with Nazi Germany. Shockingly, some American companies - > including > Standard Oil, Ford, ITT, GM, and General Electric - secretly kept > trading > with the Nazi enemy while American soldiers fought and died during > World > War II. > > Today General Electric is among the companies that are back in > business > with Saddam Hussein, even as American jets and battleships attack > Iraq on a > weekly basis using weapons made by G.E. But the United Nations > sanctions > committee, dominated by U.S. officials, has routinely blocked > medicines and > other essential items from being delivered to Iraq through the oil- > for-food > program, claiming they have a potential military "dual use." These > sanctions have taken a terrible toll on ordinary Iraqis, and on > children in > particular, while the likes of Halliburton and G.E. continue to > lubricate > their coffers. > > Martin A. Lee is author of The Beast Reawakens, a book about resurgent > fascism. His column, Reality Bites, appears every Monday on sfbg.com. > > Copyright 2000 San Francisco Bay Guardian. All rights reserved. > --- End forwarded message --- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk