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Fwd: SFBG: Cheney's Oil Company in Shady Business Deals with Iraq

> Reality Bites
> Monday, November 13, 2000
> 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 -
> - there is also a
> brief
> - summary) on the
> Burma
> connection, "Halliburton's Destructive Engagement," can be accessed on
> EarthRights' Web site,
> 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
> Copyright 2000 San Francisco Bay Guardian. All rights reserved.
> --- End forwarded message ---

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