Jewish World Review Jan. 12, 2004 / 18 Teves, 5764
Halliburton double standards
Web logger John Cole noted a fascinating difference between the news
accounts accusing Halliburton of overcharging on a contract to deliver oil
in Iraq, and the accounts of Halliburton's subsequent exoneration.
Here's the AP's Matt Kelley on the original charge: "A Pentagon audit has
found Vice President Dick Cheney's former company may have overcharged the
Army by $1.09 a gallon for nearly 57 million gallons of gasoline delivered
to citizens in Iraq, senior defense officials say."
Here's Reuters News Service: "A Pentagon audit of Halliburton, the oil
services firm once run by Vice President Dick Cheney, has found evidence the
company may have overcharged for fuel it brought into Iraq from Kuwait,
military sources said on Thursday.
And now the AP on Halliburton's exoneration: "The Army apparently has sided
with Halliburton in a dispute over the company's charges for fuel in Iraq."
And here's Reuters again: "The U.S. Army said on Tuesday it had granted
Halliburton a special waiver to bring fuel into Iraq under a no bid deal
with a Kuwaiti supplier despite a draft Pentagon audit that found evidence
of overcharging for fuel."
When Halliburton was exonerated, Cheney - prominently featured in the
accusation stories - apparently was back in his bunker at an undisclosed
There is no Halliburton scandal. But Democrats and their allies in the news
media think that if they blow enough smoke, people will think there must be
a fire somewhere.
They imply Halliburton has been getting government contracts it does not
deserve because of the influence of Cheney. They imply further that Cheney
has been putting the interests of his former firm ahead of the interests of
the United States.
This is absurd. Cheney's only possible motivation for doing so would be
greed. But if greed were Cheney's primary motivation, why would he give up a
job that paid him nearly $1 million a year in salary - and much more than
that in annual bonuses and stock options - for a job that pays less than
$200,000 a year?
Cheney served in Congress for 12 years, and as secretary of defense for 4
years before becoming Halliburton's ceo, and did so without a hint of
scandal. Unless there is powerful evidence to the contrary, we should assume
that Cheney's primary motivation for public service is public service, even
if we disagree with his views.
There is not a shred of evidence to indicate Cheney has intervened to obtain
contracts for his former firm, or that the contracting officers in the
Department of Defense - who are career civil servants - have been awarding
contracts in response to political pressure. The smear of Cheney is also a
smear of them.
Nor is there evidence to indicate Halliburton is undeserving of the
contracts it has won, has performed poorly on them, or profited excessively
Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) subsidiary has decades of
experience in major construction projects in the Middle East. It is thus
ostensibly better qualified for rebuilding Iraq than, say, the Marin County
Marijuana Growers Association.
The Army said KBR got the Iraqi oilfield contract because it was the ONLY
firm that possessed the skills, resources and security clearances necessary
to do the job.
The great growth in KBR's government work took place during the Clinton
administration. By the end of Clinton's second term, one of every seven
Pentagon dollars passed through KBR, according to Dan Baum in the New York
Times magazine. Those harping about Halliburton now saw nothing untoward
about Halliburton then.
Those in high dudgeon about Halliburton also had little to say when former
Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin sought favors for Enron, a client of
his firm. (Bush turned him down.) But then, Rubin is a Democrat.
It's not so much that there is a double standard. When the truth clashes
with their political ambitions, the fever swamp Left has no standards at
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
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