Guess who got the contract to build an additional 204 cells at Guantanamo?
July 30, 2002 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Guess who got the contract to build an additional 204 cells at Guantanamo? That's right, it's... wait for it... Halliburton! Blatant cronyism aside, "[t]he company has come under heavy pressure this year because of concerns about its liabilities and a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission into its accounting for cost overruns on construction projects." Oh, and who built the previous round of cells there? Why, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton!

Who says war is bad for the economy?
posted by mkultra (33 comments total)
"War has been very, very good for us." - the Bush clan all the way back to WW2

The Halliburton contract is a no-bidder and no-limits peach too! Wow! Think maybe I can get a defense contract like that?
posted by nofundy at 10:08 AM on July 30, 2002

who says war is bad for the economy? dead people.
posted by quonsar at 10:11 AM on July 30, 2002

oh yeah, is bush dead yet?
posted by quonsar at 10:11 AM on July 30, 2002

hey, this is an illinois kind of deal. cheney doesn't compare too poorly with george ryan, now that i think of it.
posted by moz at 10:17 AM on July 30, 2002

This HAS to be some kind of coincidence. Right? Right?
posted by insomnyuk at 10:31 AM on July 30, 2002

The United States drew fire from human rights groups after photographs were distributed of the prisoners squatting in their cells in the blazing Cuban sun. emphasis mine

Damn that Cuban sun...fascist bastard.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:38 AM on July 30, 2002

No-one has ever said war is bad for the economy. War's good for the economy. Take a listen to Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding"- war oils the wheels of industry. Like Tony Blair said the other day... "If we want to stop the defence industry in this country, we can do so. The result, incidentally, would be that someone else supplies the arms that we supply." (Ouch!)

Besides, something tells me that getting Saddam dealt with isn't, in the long term, going to do much harm to America's oil interests.
posted by skylar at 10:42 AM on July 30, 2002

war oils the wheels of industry.

War oils the wheels of the defense industry. For the overall economy, war is bad, unless the outcome serves some greater economic end. Spending money on arms and sending men off to die does not automatically mean economic improvement.
posted by insomnyuk at 10:48 AM on July 30, 2002

The Cold War was the Rock that our defense industry lived on for fourty years (Korea and Vietnam being outbursts of the Cold War). Until the next Cold War (with China this time) the industry requires Gulf Wars, Afghanistans and Iraqs to keep its momentum.
posted by Mack Twain at 10:52 AM on July 30, 2002

Until the next Cold War (with China this time) the industry requires Gulf Wars, Afghanistans and Iraqs to keep its momentum.

Aw. I don't want a Cold War with China. I like their food and big walls.
posted by ColdChef at 11:20 AM on July 30, 2002

lost lives aside, war has always been very good for our economy.
posted by o2b at 11:22 AM on July 30, 2002

How is war inherently good for an economy? Will someone please link me to the treatise written by an economist which lays out how war by itself helps our economy? Indeed, war may allow us to re-open markets or secure resources, but spending and killing for war do not in and of themselves improve the economy.
posted by insomnyuk at 11:27 AM on July 30, 2002

It keeps getting worse and worse, and then more worse since we cannot do anything about it.
Sad it really is.
posted by Kodel at 11:38 AM on July 30, 2002

"War is good for the economy" is a short-sighted position. True, it generates growth in manufacturing and other defense-related industries, but there is a long-term cost in converting those industries back to civilian ones and a massively displaced workforce. And then there's the disruption in international trade.

WWII was ultimately good for the economy because it suddenly opened up new markets to American companies who saw the opportunity to insinuate themselves in the rebuilding of major parts of the world. That was, primarily, a one-shot deal due to the scale of the conflict.

The only significant recipients of economic benefit from war in the Middle East will be oil companies, since those are the ones who will gain access to a new, cheap supply chain. Given the history of behavior, how much of that benefit do you really think will trickle back down to you?
posted by mkultra at 11:39 AM on July 30, 2002

Aw. I don't want a Cold War with China. I like their food and big walls.

And pandas! Please, won't someone think of the pandas?
posted by kindall at 12:14 PM on July 30, 2002

I'm completely missing the point here.

If Halliburton gets any business there's a conflict of interest? Because the VP used to work there they need to be banned from government contracts? What are you saying? This just seems like pointless posturing to me.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:27 PM on July 30, 2002

Come on, people! We have it on no less of an authority than Elvis Costello that war stimulates economic growth!

Then again, wasn't this thread about cronyism and Halliburton? I have to say that Bush, Cheney, and co. must have genitalia of steel to make such a blatant move.

It seems like there's a base level of such corruption that the American people almost expect. Sure, a few people are going to make a fuss about this most recent move, but is anything likely to happen as a result? Probably not - they know they can get away with it.
posted by UKnowForKids at 12:33 PM on July 30, 2002

If Halliburton gets any business there's a conflict of interest?

Well call me crazy but isn't Halliburton an Oil and Energy company? How is it that an energy company picks up not one but two contracts to build a prison compound? Does this make sense? I mean I can understand cronyism will occur to a certain extent in business and politics but you got to think there were plenty of other companies who might know a thing or two about building prisions for cheap.
posted by aaronscool at 12:42 PM on July 30, 2002

If Halliburton gets any business there's a conflict of interest? Because the VP used to work there they need to be banned from government contracts? What are you saying? This just seems like pointless posturing to me.

Well, the political argument is that heaps of money are being poured into a prison of dubious legality. Halliburton shouldn't be excluded because Cheney's the VP, but it looks awfully suspicious that his company got handed both development contracts this year. If nothing else, it reeks of the improper influence Bush & Co. are known for.

The more practical argument is that my %^#&*$#! tax dollars are bankrolling a company that's under investigation for improper practices and generally doing a crappy job on its contracts.

Thanks for trolling, though, or at least willfully turning the other cheek while Washington slaps you.
posted by mkultra at 12:51 PM on July 30, 2002

I think the key idea here is Halliburton's construction division, which is skilled at building facilities for energy (and other) companies all over the world, particularly under tight deadlines; combined with the Brown & Root subsidiary, which has been a defense contractor since 1942, when it started as a naval shipbuilder.

KBR has become the premier provider of logistics and support services to all branches of the military. Our capabilities range from complex, fast-track construction, logistics and support services in remote, militarized locations to day-to-day base operations support. We leverage the assets and strengths of other Halliburton companies and personnel to provide innovative solutions to any problem.

In other words, their getting government contracts dates back to before Dick Cheney was even alive. This $100M contract is hardly nothing, but neither is it some amazing plum contract that they only got because of those connections. They're the first one on the rolodex already.
posted by dhartung at 12:57 PM on July 30, 2002

Yeah, I did pretty well in the '90s, and I'm here to tell you, the government had absolutely nothing to do with it. (Audience laughs, Joe chuckles, etc.)
posted by raysmj at 1:08 PM on July 30, 2002

Cheney has plenty to do with the extent of B&R's current government contracts.
posted by liam at 1:28 PM on July 30, 2002

This may not be the most unbiased source, but that Halliburton benefited from changes made while Cheney was defense secretary is no secret. The company may be at the top of the Rolodex now, sure, but Cheney played a significant role in getting them and keeping them there.
posted by raysmj at 1:28 PM on July 30, 2002

They're the first one on the rolodex already.

Isn't that the problem: that you even have to look at the rolodex when it comes to building your own military bases? The UK link's because the outsourcing of public projects to benefit private companies is New Labour policy. PFI is questionable enough for the Tube (see: Britain's railways) but it's even more dubious when war enriches shareholders and executives. Enthusiastic write-ups like this don't help:
Whether or not the other Europeans are able to do the same depends on their willingness to follow the British example of military privatization. Doing so may yet enable them to revitalize their deteriorating militaries and help win the struggle against terror.
(And yes, I know that doing jobs like this in-house leads to things like invoicing £10 for a screwdriver. But B&R are just mercenaries with an annual report and a friend on the inside.)
posted by riviera at 2:22 PM on July 30, 2002

I wonder if the Bushies think that, i don't know, maybe in 2007-8, Castro and his cronies would fit really well into those cells?

I still don't get the cuba thing...maybe they have oil?
posted by amberglow at 3:06 PM on July 30, 2002

I still don't get the cuba thing...maybe they have oil?

It's actually a great place to go if you want to conduct government business with minimal public interference. It's close by, but because of our travel policies toward Cuba, it's effectively impossible for the public to get anywhere near it.
posted by mkultra at 3:15 PM on July 30, 2002

thanks mkultra!

now on to Iraq--didn't Halliburton make oodles rebuilding the oil rigs/fields/facilities after the gulf war?
posted by amberglow at 4:41 PM on July 30, 2002

What I don't get is why it costs US$9.7m to build 204 cells. There's no cost for the real estate, amenities include such luxuries as "wash basins with running water and floor-style toilets that flush." Probably a bed and a lightbulb, too. It works out to US$47,549 per cell. At 48 sq.ft. per cell, it's just a ten-spot shy of US$1,000 per sq.ft. Perhaps it's that green mesh curtain?

And just what are the "additional options" which might be exercised over the next four years, leading to a 3000% increase in cost?
posted by eptitude at 6:01 PM on July 30, 2002

amberglow: yes.
posted by liam at 6:45 PM on July 30, 2002

eptitude: don't think. don't ask questions. you won't like the answers. just pretend everything is Just Fine.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:52 PM on July 30, 2002

They're the first one on the rolodex already.

Oh boy. And there's nothing disquieting about that particular fact to some, I take it.

I'm sure a certain other company's number lies atop any number of Bush administration rolodexes. Let us know when the Department of Energy will be contracting with Enron to supply power to the federal government.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:17 AM on July 31, 2002

eptitude: First, the green mesh curtains of Camp X-Ray were replaced in April by the concrete and trailer construction of Camp Delta.

As for costs: clearly, everything needs to be shipped in. There is no local concrete supplier available, so they have to mix on site -- that sort of thing tends to increase costs. The facility must be secure, so no single-layer drywall construction. They probably need electronic locks, centralized security, video cameras, and the like. And the $300M potential pricetag is for construction of the maximum 2000-bed facility as well as operations, which are running around $500/day per prisoner (probably reduced at higher capacity). That adds up quickly.
posted by dhartung at 3:31 PM on July 31, 2002

dhartung: Some good points, but not good enough to justify that kind of money. First off, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
The captives at Camp Delta are kept in individual cells that are 8 feet long, 8 feet 6 wide and 8 feet high. Each cell has steel mesh walls that let in the constant sea breezes and a steel mesh window measuring 4 feet by 4 feet. The cells also have a sink with running water, an Eastern-style flushable floor toilet and a steel bed frame with an arrow pointing to Mecca etched into it.
Other than concrete for the foundations of the "Seahuts", the steel mesh may be cheaper than drywall construction. I am getting conflicting information about the lack of or presence of air-conditioning for the prisoners, however. (And, the larger size quoted for the cells changes my numbers somewhat. It's now just US$740 per sq.ft.)

The additional cells may require some more security, but since they're being added on to a "complex of 600 wire mesh cells, cyclone fencing, guard towers and concertina wire" (AJ-C again), much of the infrastructure is already there. Also, since much of the cost of transporting construction materials to a distant site is the transportation itself, it's doubtful whether Halliburton is going to be spending the bucks to put this on their own boats or if its going to be transported into this secure-area-within-a-hostile-nation's-declared-territorial-waters by the Navy's ships.

As far as the details about the potential US$300m contract, I can't find a link to that-- would you mind providing one? I'm also trying to figure out where the "$500/day per prisoner" figure comes from. If Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary currently providing to our Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kyrgystan bases "support services including base camp maintenance, laundry services, food services, airfield services, and supply operations, among others" is providing the same services in Gitmo, then those are some mighty expensive meals and laundry our prisoners are receiving. (I'd be willing to bet that B&R is not providing airfield services and supply ops on this base.)

And finally, according to the originally linked report from Reuters, "the new camp is enclosed inside a green mesh curtain, which prevents visitors from seeing in and keeps the prisoners from seeing the tightly guarded shoreline a few hundred yards away." I'm still not convinced that its not that curtain costing all the money. :)
posted by eptitude at 6:09 PM on July 31, 2002

« Older D-O-S attack disables RIAA site.   |   Weatherpixie Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments