Things are going well in Iraq for the invaders. Well, at least
for some people, such as US Vice-President Richard Cheney. He is receiving more
than $US1 million ($A1.3 million) a year from Halliburton, the company of which
he was CEO from 1995 to 2000, in "deferred remuneration" while he
is VP. He is worth every penny.
Last week, two Democrat senators and a house member wrote to Secretary of Defence
Donald Rumsfeld asking if he knew about Halliburton's latest money-making dodge
in Iraq. Keep in mind that Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown and
Root, have a nice little earner going in supplying support for the US Army and
for, ostensibly, putting out oil well fires. The Centre for Public Integrity
in Washington counts Halliburton's windfall at more than $US10 billion - a little
bit coming from the US Treasury but most coming from Iraqi oil revenue that
is supposed to be used to reconstruct the country for the benefit of the people.
The centre counts another 30 members of the Defence Policy Board with ties to
American companies with $US76 billion (as of 2002) in largely uncontested and
un-auditable military contracts.
The Democrats reckon that Halliburton may have overstepped even its sloppy moral
line by making life impossible for another American company that has committed
the crime of undercutting the Vice-President's company.
In their letter to Rumsfeld, the Democrats say that US company Lloyd-Owen International
is being prevented from delivering fuel to Iraq from Kuwait (Who says the liberation
hasn't been a success? What next? Ice to the Inuit?) by forcing LOI trucks to
use a civilian crossing where the checks are so slow that the company can't
get its 140 trucks a day through. The speedy, wave-'em-through military crossing
is controlled by who? The Iraqi military? The US military? Nope, by the Vice-President's
firm, which is also in the fuel delivery business.
The Democrats say that the LOI crime is delivering fuel to Iraq for 18 US cents
a gallon while Halliburton provides the same service at $US1.30 a gallon. The
LOI spokesman says he could understand if Halliburton simply doubled the price,
to 36 US cents a gallon. But at $US1.30 a gallon even a Texas carpetbagger should
Halliburton has a $US2.5 billion contract for managing the fuel distribution
system in Iraq. The man from LOI says that "we have not, to date, seen
a functioning KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) piece of equipment to where we deliver".
He also says that his chaps have only come across one KBR employee at these
LOI needed Defence Department ID cards to make its deliveries and, in order
to get them from - you guessed it - Halliburton, they had to make a delivery
for Mr Cheney of construction material to Fallujah last month. The convoy was
attacked and three men were killed and seven injured. KBR staff were ordered
not to provide any assistance to the injured. "Many people volunteered
to help, but were told not to by our management," according to a Halliburton
employee. Presumably the convoy crew were a bunch of mercenaries, in Iraq to
make a buck.
As George the Smaller told an audience at the West Point and Virginia Military
Institute, America is "the single surviving model of human progress".