The Guardian May 14, 2003


Halliburton: poised for the spoils

by Denis Doherty

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq 
recently is a corporation called Halliburton. While the Abrams tanks were 
rolling across the desert and good old Aussie "special forces" were risking 
their lives for "democracy", the political leaders knew what they were 
after. They allowed Iraqi culture, history and government infrastructure to 
be looted and burnt while the oil ministry was protected. Halliburton 
provides oil drilling, construction and military support and is ideally 
situated to have a triple-header of wartime spoils.

Anti-globalisation activists have been active in exposing the greed of 
corporations such as Halliburton. The corporation is also a particularly 
potent target for peace activists opposed to the invasion and occupation of 
Iraq.

In Sydney on May 1, for example, activists protested outside Halliburton's 
office in a prestigious building in Kent Street in Sydney's central 
business district.

Halliburton has dubious connections with the Bush administration, 
particularly with Vice President Dick Cheney.

No one in the US Government is concerned about conflict of interest. In 
fact, the opposite is true. The Bush administration is driven by the 
interests of the oil conglomerates, the arms corporations and the IT 
industry.

On the administration's Defense Committee of thirty, there are at least 
nine members who have close ties with major arms manufacturing 
corporations.

US Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton have a particularly cosy 
relationship. Cheney was CEO of the company prior to becoming the Vice 
President. He still receives a retainer and is a major shareholder with 
US$45 million in shares.

"Not bothering to call for tenders the Pentagon has granted a Halliburton 
subsidiary, the delightfully named Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR), a US$7 
billion ($11.5 billion Aust) contract to clean up Iraq's oil industry", 
wrote Mike Carlton in the Sydney Morning Herald (18/4/2003).

"Cheney's income tax declaration reported in The New York Times 
reveals that he earned $162,392 in 'deferred compensation' from 
Halliburton last year. As President Bush said, 'These are great days in the 
history of freedom'", said Mr Carlton.

Political influence and economic growth

Halliburton began its days as a construction company, building dams. 
Generously donating to Lyndon Johnson's political campaigns, it gained a 
contract to become a major company.

The company now builds oil platforms, military bases, ports, nuclear 
facilities, harbours and tunnels.

It also provides logistics support to the military. There are no longer 
quartermasters in the US military  Halliburton does it all for the 
military. Halliburton is so large and so diverse it can train armies, arm, 
feed, supply and house them.

Firstly by the shrewd manipulation of political influence under LBJ and now 
with Cheney's patronage, this huge corporation has grown rich at the 
expense of the misery and desperation of the poor around the world.

Halliburton has over 20,000 employees in 100 countries, a resource no doubt 
utilised by the many branches of the US Government Halliburton is entwined 
with.

Oil and war

Wherever there is oil, there is Kellogg, Brown, and Root (Halliburton).

Everywhere there is war or insurrection there is Kellogg, Brown, and Root.

From Bosnia and Kosovo, to Chechnya, Rwanda, Burma, Pakistan, Laos, 
Vietnam, Iran, Libya, Mexico and Columbia, KBR operates.

Since KBR supplies the US military with provisions, it is reasonable to 
assume that wherever the company sets up huge warehouse capability war will 
soon erupt. In Columbia, KBR has nearly one million square feet of covered 
space.

In the ultra-crook world of big business, Halliburton has a reputation for 
dishonesty. The company has a dirty history, littered with shady deals and 
highly questionable business practices. These include:

Government blank cheques: The US Army came under fire from the Government's 
General Accounting Office over a US$2.2 billion contract it signed with 
Halliburton. The army was to "frequently have simply accepted the level of 
services the contractor provided without questioning whether they could be 
provided more efficiently or less frequently at lower cost."

Questionable accounting: Government agencies are investigating allegations 
that Halliburton artificially boosted earnings by US$234 million over four 
years. These were the years when Cheney was CEO of Halliburton.

Business with "The Axis": Halliburton has not been affected by moves to 
restrict commerce with so-called "axis of evil" regimes. The company made 
profits out of business with Libya; Iran and Saddam Hussein, avoiding 
government embargoes on trade with these countries with the assistance of 
Dick Cheney.

As Cheney once said: "The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only 
where there are democratic regimes friendly to the US".

Off-shore subsidiaries: Under Cheney's tenure, the number of Halliburton 
subsidiaries in offshore tax havens rose from nine to 44.

The tax paid by Halliburton went from US$302 million company taxes paid in 
1998 to a US$85 million refund in 1999. (Halliburton, Dick Cheney and 
Wartime Spoils)

Halliburton in Australia

KBR's global infrastructure division, headquartered in Adelaide, has some 
2500 staff based in 44 offices operating in three regions  the Americas, 
Europe/Africa and Asia-Pacific.

The 1200 infrastructure staff based in the Asia Pacific region include 
engineering (civil, structural, water, mechanical, electrical, mining, 
process, municipal), project management and construction.

KBR has links to the Australian military as well big infrastructure jobs in 
Australia.

The company's highest profile work in Australia is the Alice Springs to 
Darwin railway. The railway is being built at enormous expense but experts 
suggest that it is not economically viable.

An influential US policy document, Project for the New American Century, 
suggests that the US needs another base in Australia. This could possibly 
be an aircraft carrier base along with a marine detachment. Is the railway 
a precursor to a new US base in Darwin?

While US corporations are getting a free ride in the reconstruction of 
Iraq, an operation estimated to cost as much as US$120 billion, the 
prospect for Australian companies is less rosy.

An Australian delegation led by Trade Minister Mark Vaile and including 
major Australian companies such BHP and Multiplex went to the US to try to 
grab their share of the spoils of war. The Sydney Morning Herald (30/4/03) 
reported that they travelled to Houston to visit Halliburton.

Halliburton is not simply a major capitalist corporation but an arm of the 
Bush administration's greedy larceny of the patrimony of the Iraqi people.

* * *
Further Reading: Bush-Cheney Drug Empire by Michael Ruppert,
published on http://www.fromthewilderness.com Halliburton, Dick Cheney, and Wartime Spoils
by Lee Drutman and Charlie Cray, published on http://www.commondreams.org

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