Halliburton Contract
March 25, 2003 10:55 PM   Subscribe

Halliburton Handed No-Bid Iraqi Oil Firefighting Contract You still believe this war is about nothing more then WMD's? I wonder how many other of Bush and Cheney's friends are benefiting from this war? The US government didn't even bother to give other companies a chance to bid for this contract. While on the topic of WMD's you might want to check out this, about the lack of skepticism when it comes to the media making claims for weapons in Iraq. Remember Fox and their claim of a "HUGE" chemical weapons stash? How are we to get accurate news on this war if the journalist's we rely on are nothing more then puppets for this administration?
posted by tljenson (38 comments total)
Leading with our chin, are we?
posted by y2karl at 11:09 PM on March 25, 2003

As I said about 4 months ago on Mefi: "Haliburton will be parachuting into Iraq with the 82nd Airborne to protect those oil wells.".......Not a direct quote but close enough.
posted by troutfishing at 11:09 PM on March 25, 2003

Here is their own press release on the matter.

Find out if any of their offices are near you (hint: the answer is probably yes). do you know how i learned about halliburton winning this contract? deductively: i was sitting in the airport, half watching the stock ticker on the little airport-swivel TV, as all of the red abbreviations rolled by with down arrow after down arrow. then, i saw a green one. what were the letters? H-A-L.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:31 PM on March 25, 2003

*cough* Teapot Dome *cough*
posted by herc at 11:38 PM on March 25, 2003

You people are all very cynical. I am sure Halliburton was selected because they're the most competent company for the job! You lefties always find crazy stuff to whine about!

I can't find the link anymore, but I read peace activists were targeting the TransAmerica pyramid, which houses the SF offices of Halliburton. I also recently read (in The Nation, if memory serves) that Cheney is still drawing fat checks from Halliburton even though he's not officially working for them right now.
posted by muckster at 11:47 PM on March 25, 2003

The BBC had a segment today on British contractors grousing about being shut out of the bidding process for a number of projects.
But don't worry brits, a compromise is in the works. You'll be able to sub-contract from American companies.
posted by 2sheets at 11:53 PM on March 25, 2003

Cheney still gets a million dollars a year from halliburton and his wife used to be on the board of Lockheed martin, worlds biggest arms dealer. Read all about it here
posted by mikojava at 12:05 AM on March 26, 2003

I'm not sure if the New Yorker expose on Richard Perle has been posted here before, but it bears mentioning again either way.
posted by muckster at 12:07 AM on March 26, 2003

You're right. The Americans are only going into Iraq for the cash. The getting rid of Saddam is just a fortunate side effect. Still, better that the Americans go in and dispose of Saddam while nabbing the oil as opposed to the Russians and French going into Iraq to drill Saddam new oil wells while letting him maintain his despotic regime. Prior to this war, French and Russian companies had oil drilling stakes worth 90 billion dollars in Iraq. Odd, isn't it, how it was the French and the Russians who seemed to be so adamantly against war. (source: The Economist magazine)
posted by dazed_one at 12:34 AM on March 26, 2003

there's a shitload more money to be made on other stuff. ALL the corporations getting contracts, and many others, have a stake in this war. This is just icing on the cake.
posted by chaz at 1:12 AM on March 26, 2003

We'll have to see what regime gets propped up after Saddam is gone before one can even justify the end. Given the US's track record I'm not optimistic.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:39 AM on March 26, 2003

I'm told by a friend in oil industry consulting (CMAI Global) that my liberal misgivings aside, Halliburton are unquestionably the best in this field and rightly have a dominant position in the market.

The question is tjenson, do you think that this contract should have been put out to competitive tender given the environmental externalities which would and will result from delay?
posted by dmt at 1:48 AM on March 26, 2003

What dmt said. My bro used to work in oil support services, and although this farcical war and it's context stink to high heaven, he tells me that the only serious rival to Haliburton in this field is Schlumberger, which is *ahem* a French company (or should that be a Freedom(TM) Company now?), so they shouldn't be expecting any contracts anytime soon.

Widespread complaints by British companies that they aren't getting any of the action at this stage seem a bit harder to explain though. My heart bleeds for them. Or maybe not.
posted by Doozer at 2:20 AM on March 26, 2003

So even allowing for the innate cronyism and corruption of state-sponsored capitalism, should governments expect any kind of ethical standards from their private contractors? Should sanctions-busting and worse have consequences? The Cheney-led Halliburton even helped to rebuild Saddam's oil fields after their destruction in the war with the Bush I administration, that included Lawrence Eagleburger in the State Department. Now Eagleburger is on Halliburton's board for this round at the trough.
posted by liam at 3:29 AM on March 26, 2003

Ok, forgetting about the validation of the war, and Europe's involvement (or lack of) and I'll even throw out the argument that Safety Boss didn't get it because they are Canadian.

Fine, forget all that.


IANAL, but isn't this illegal?
posted by CrazyJub at 3:56 AM on March 26, 2003

Slightly off-topic, but this article by Richard Heinberg titled The US and Eurasia: End Game for the Industrial Era? addresses dazed_one's post (to me anyway) in a round-about way.

Heinberg makes quite an insightful observation concerning U.S. economical consequences of OPEC switching from the dollar to the euro. And why a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq is paramount.

I honestly can no longer believe the truth in "we must destroy the WMDs and liberate the suppressed" rally call. (and I did, staunchly) Well reasoned level-headed arguments contributed by certain MeFi's, extensive research on my part, and just plain old soul-searching prevents me.
posted by Cedric at 4:55 AM on March 26, 2003

IANAL, but isn't this illegal?

it's just business. bush and cronies are merely gutting the nation just like any good board of directors would gut the loser in a hostile takeover bid. they kneel before the gushing abdominal breach, bathing in the gore, filling their pockets and swallowing as much life-blood as they can. why do you hate america so much?
posted by quonsar at 6:32 AM on March 26, 2003

For the Objectivists out there: further proof that our president is in fact Jim Taggart.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 9:13 AM on March 26, 2003

Did anyone watch the Daily Show last night? They ripped into this story- it's the most brutal and bitter I've seen them in a long, long time. It's not on the site yet, but it'll probably be up in their streaming archives within a day.
posted by hincandenza at 9:29 AM on March 26, 2003

Heinberg makes quite an insightful observation concerning U.S. economical consequences of OPEC switching from the dollar to the euro.

Nah. It's really just warmed-over mercantilism, which was chucked onto the dustbin of history not too long after 1776. Currency is not a Precious Bodily Fluid that gets diluted if traded abroad, or whose "strength" is indicative of anything.

If the dollar falls relative to the euro, all that this means is that goods from the US become relatively cheaper than goods from the euro zone of Europe, and so US exports rise. It helps American producers and harms, somewhat, American consumers of European goods (or drives them to American substitutes).

Which is to say that if the dollar falls relative to the euro, it helps the corporate masters that Bush is supposed to care about, and only harms that vast rabble of common consumers that's he supposed not to care anything about.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:34 AM on March 26, 2003

Come on folks, we all saw this coming months ago. If I have time I will dig up some previous threads where this exact situation was presented.
This was to be expected, so don't let it ruin your day.

Lets not be naive, the political system works on favors

Exactly Skallas. Exactly
posted by a3matrix at 10:00 AM on March 26, 2003

Rafe had some great comments about it. While it does look like some impropriety, Halliburton is one of the most experienced companies doing this, the no-bidding process and early contract is to ensure they go in as soon as possible. It definitely looks fucked up, but it seems like an ok choice, given the circumstances (like hiring the only kid in town to cut your lawn even though he usually does a crappy job and he's your coworker's son).

Also, this flash animation of how capping a well works is pretty cool.
posted by mathowie at 10:11 AM on March 26, 2003

Thanks, Matt, for summing up what troubles and gives me hope about this war: American helplessness. The day the bombs started dropping, I was in a West Village hardware store. There was a TV on and a local began to fret about the war aloud. The shop owner cut her off with "Hey, it's war. What can you do?" That ended all conversation.

Our helplessness has reached epidemic proportions since that masterful stroke of err, luck? in late 2000.

I do not think it's "an ok choice" for a company that's making the vice president even richer to make money off a war he's helping to run. Enron anyone? But hey, it's a war. What can you do?

The hopeful aspect for me is that the further we go from representative democracy, the more likely it is that someone with genuine leadership qualities (such as courage) will begin to speak for the rest of us.
posted by divrsional at 11:16 AM on March 26, 2003

As someone who works in the energy sector (via government and multilateral foreign aid efforts) I don't see a huge problem with this deal, though it does look strange on the surface.

Fact one, KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary that was hired, has a long history of working with the military, far predating Cheney's role in office (they were hired by the Clinton administration on a similar bid to redo embassy security after the 1998 Africa bombings.) They have substantial experience working with the US military in difficult situations. They are also one of the best firms in the world at what they do, oil well services. And, as has been mentioned, there are not many US domestic alternatives that also have experience working with the military in a dangerous situation.

Why was this a sole-source contract and not open to bidding? Folks, there is a war on. Have any of you ever bid a government project? It takes months, if not a full year to a get a reply on a government bid. Of course, I'm sure this bid process could be shortened to a month or so, but still, this effort needs to be undertaken now. This is how things operate in tense, fast-paced situations. You have to hire someone immediately to get done what needs to be done.

As to why only US companies are being selected, well, that is Federal law. And no different than the laws in European countries. If something is paid for out of a national treasury, that countries firms are the only firms eligible for prime contractor status. The US is actually far more liberal in its laws than many European countries, which often don't even let non-EU firms act as subcontractors on government work. British companies are not involved at this point because the British public is not footing the bill.
posted by pjgulliver at 11:27 AM on March 26, 2003

From what I've read, Haliburton is one of only two companies in the world which is qualified to deal with the current situation in the oil fields.

Their only real competitor in that area is the French giant Schlumberger. The nationality of that company is enough to eliminate them from consideration.

So this is actually much less of an impropriety than it might seem at first glance.
posted by pandaharma at 12:43 PM on March 26, 2003

How are we to get accurate news on this war if the journalist's we rely on are nothing more then puppets for this administration?

We don't have to because at least CNN, Yahoo and the NY Times reported this (including pointing out that Chaney is the former CEO of Halliburton). However, the British press, to my understanding, has not reported this.

Remember Fox and their claim of a "HUGE" chemical weapons stash?

This claim was properly put in context at least by most media as they suggested the plant (no chemical stash was reported) was a "suspected" or "reported" chemical weapons plant. Event the army and the Bush Administration asserted the plant was merely suspected and refues to confirm that the plant was a chemical weapons plant.

tljenson, as your linking to Common Dreams suggests you care noting about the trustworthiness or unbiased nature of a "news" source. It make your argument very disingenuous.

The US is actually far more liberal in its laws than many European countries, which often don't even let non-EU firms act as subcontractors on government work. British companies are not involved at this point because the British public is not footing the bill.

You mean to say people outside the US do bad things, no. Please, people know Chaney's connection to Halliburton and it has been widely reported. Considering more nefarious conduct go on else (including in those countries that opposed this war) where I hardly see this as an issue. No war for oil? Its foolish to believe that oil is not factor, but it's hardly the only reason or the majory reason. Read Salon or watch PBS lately? Even they think there more to this war that oil. Try opening your mind to more that garbage on Common Dreams. No war for oil? How about no war for stupid slogans.
posted by Bag Man at 12:44 PM on March 26, 2003

Bag man, I'm not really sure what your comment had to do with my statement, but I wasn't trying to assert "people outside the US do bad things" I was just seeking to demonstrate that US sourcing of these contracts to US companies is required by law, just as it is in many other parts of the world. I don't consider that a "bad thing" I was simply trying to give some context.
posted by pjgulliver at 12:48 PM on March 26, 2003

Rep. Howard Waxman accuses the Bush Administration of citing forged documents. According to Mother Jones, no major media has picked up on the story and the White House has not responded. It has been a week. Can we blog this one into the news? I can't post to the front of MeFi yet. But folks should know about this.
posted by bendybendy at 1:28 PM on March 26, 2003

Try opening your mind to more that garbage on Common Dreams.

Prejudicially dismissing the messenger without reference to the veracity of the message constitutes "opening your mind"?

How about no war for stupid slogans.

Yeah. The administration can start.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:02 PM on March 26, 2003

bendybendy, that story is well-told in the New Yorker this week (Sy Hersh). It has appeared elsewhere. But yeah, it's being underplayed, for some strange reason.

In fact, if you read the Hersh story, it becomes pretty clear that Bush's sudden interest in jump-starting the war over the weekend before St. Patrick's day correlates with the fact that this (i.e. Jay Rockefeller's original inquiry) would have otherwise been front-page news on Monday the 17th.
posted by soyjoy at 2:39 PM on March 26, 2003

Soyjoy, while clearly there is a serious issue here, and I am disturbed by our governments reliance on forged documents, the was hardly a "sudden interest in jump-starting the war" over that weekend. Rather, Monday the 17th had been an unofficial deadline for weeks before than, ever since the Brits, Spanish, and US floated the idea of a second UNSC resolution with March 17 as its deadline.
posted by pjgulliver at 2:58 PM on March 26, 2003

British companies are not involved at this point because the British public is not footing the bill.

Hmm. £4bn looks like a 'bill' to me.

From what I've read, Haliburton is one of only two companies in the world which is qualified to deal with the current situation in the oil fields.

Which must be why they subcontract (Houston-based) Boots and Coots to do their work for them. Gosh, I could have made that phone call.
posted by riviera at 4:32 PM on March 26, 2003

Chaney's connection to Halliburton and it has been widely reported.

Bigger problems at home.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:44 PM on March 26, 2003

color me dubious re link above
posted by y2karl at 6:53 PM on March 26, 2003

Here's a link to the Hersh article.
posted by homunculus at 7:54 PM on March 26, 2003

Here's the link to the Daily Show's coverage of the deal. (RealVideo)
posted by Optamystic at 8:49 PM on March 26, 2003

pjgulliver, I didn't mean to imply that the 3/17 deadline came out of nowhere. Bush & Blair had set it on 3/7, as I recall, but then throughout the following week had backed off and downplayed it as it became clearer that they weren't going to be able to bully their way to a security-council victory, and it became evident that Turkey was still going to take at least another week or two to come around. Going into the weekend on 3/14, it looked as though we'd have at least another week of "negotiating," if you can call it that.

Then suddenly on Sunday, Bush startled me and a lot of other people by telling the UN they had one day to approve his plan or he was going ahead right away, and this was front-page news on Monday morning. If he hadn't "jump-started" the war (a characterization that's looking more and more accurate as military advisors complain that the war began before we had everything properly in place), somewhere on the front page would have been the news that on Friday, Senator Jay Rockefeller of the Senate Intelligence Committee had asked the F.B.I. to investigate these forged documents. If that had happened, the peace movement and the wait-and-see movement would have gathered a lot of momentum at the expense of the faltering war machine, and possibly led to a snowballing effect where the war was finally seen as so patently illegitimate that even the chickenhawks would have had to back down.

Obviously, this is speculation - I don't have any forged documents showing Bush's PR strategy over that weekend - but in combination with the pattern his administration has had of hijacking the front pages with "terror alerts" every time some bad news comes out about how corrupt the administration is, I think this scenario is more likely than not.
posted by soyjoy at 7:39 AM on March 27, 2003

Prejudicially dismissing the messenger without reference to the veracity of the message constitutes "opening your mind"?

I am speaking directly to the veracity of the message. If we question CNN and other media outlets (who follow codes of conduct and codes of ethics me must question those did not follow such codes) we must question them all, even groups who are essentially yes men, as common Dreams is to a lot of lefties (but not this one). The biasness and varsity of the any media outlet is always an issue. This seems to be a big issue on Mefi, so why can't I question the biasness and varsity of "public interest" groups such Common Dreams? Considering that Common Dreams has a pointed bias and sole reason for its existence is to support a point of view, it seems the varsity of such a group must be investigated and discussed before it's message can be taken as valid or trusted to any degree. Would you totally trust the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute? Any one with an open mind should question any media outlet or public interest group.

(please not the following rant is a general one, not aimed at any one person in this thread. I also admit that I am also guilty of the what I accuse other of being guilty of. I raise the following issues because I believe there are general problems with some Mefiers' comments and to a certain degree the discussion of this thread reflects those problems and issues. However, the following comment is from general observations I have made.)

To bring up another issue on the same subject, why do we trust non-American corporate and government media so much? I mean, in regards to the war the BCC, for example, is reporting essentially the same news as American media. Why do we not question the BBC’s connection to big business and corporations? Why is ok for the BBC to blatantly editorialize and not Fox? Often the BBC stories make wrong or controversial statements that are born of half-truths or other problems (For example, today the BCC has implied the the U.S. Supreme is now considering overturning Brown v. Broad and also implying Supreme Court is trying end all constitutionally mandated protections for racial minorities in lie of a serious discussion of what "equal protection" means under the 14th Amendment. The BBC story did not even mention the actual question certified for review). Why are we so critical of American media for pandering to the majority of the US audience, but we are not critical of other media for blatantly pandering to their audience? That’s just not fair, at least apply the same standard.

Is the lack scrutiny so transparently caused by the fact that non-American media often merely reinforce our world view? Or are we so mistrusting of American media that even when CNN, for example, is fair and unbiased we criticize simply because we don’t like the content of the story that is being report? I think so, and think it’s unfair.
posted by Bag Man at 9:03 AM on April 2, 2003

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