To partisans of a liberal, radical, and Democratic Party background, Halliburton is synonymous with evil, the symbol of cloven-footed, corrupt capitalism.
According to the these activists, Halliburton is the treasonous corporation of which VP Cheney was formerly CEO -- treasonous because the company is reaping profits from the war in Iraq as our bravest young men are dying.
Both John Kerry and John Edwards have picked up on this. Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry recently said, "the only people George Bush's policies are working for are the people he chooses to help…They're working for drug companies. They're working for oil companies...and they're certainly working for Halliburton." Edwards likewise inserted this issue into this week's vice presidential debate.
It has been a reigning motif of the conspiracist Left that has slowly gained the mainstream acceptance of the man who could be the next president -- and the man who could be the frontrunner in the 2008 presidential race.
The Left has been on this theme for quite some time. According to an article by Carl Hiassen, in the April 25 edition of the Miami Herald, "Dick Cheney had gotten the war he wanted. One year later, it's costing us a staggering $4.7 billion a month, or about $157 million per day. A hefty chunk of that is being spent on support services provided in Iraq by Halliburton, the Texas company that Cheney ran before joining the Bush ticket in 2000. Cheney says he has severed his ties to Halliburton and had nothing to do with the lucrative no-bid contracts awarded to the firm. Not everyone is persuaded that the connection is merely coincidental."
All this rhetoric echoes the words of the revolutionary Marxist journal International Socialist Review (ISO), which has made reference to the "corporate invasion of Iraq by large U.S. corporations like Halliburton."
Why do leftists demonize Halliburton? What proof exists of their claims of corruption? What exactly has Halliburton done to profit from American military casualties? Indeed, have they profited from military casualties? Is there a special relationship between the Bush administration and Halliburton so that the company receives contracts without observing the normal bidding process?
It is certainly true that during a two year period Halliburton’s revenue from Defense Department contracts doubled. However, that increase in revenue occurred from 1998 to 2000 - during the Clinton administration.
In 1998, Halliburton's total revenue was $14.5 billion, which included $284 million of Pentagon contracts. Two years later, Halliburton’s DoD contracts more than doubled.
Regarding the Iraq contracts, Halliburton was accused by Democrats of receiving special "no-bid" contracts because of Cheney’s influence. One advertisement by the Democrats charged, "Bush gave contracts to Halliburton instead of fighting corporate corruption."
FactCheck.org an organization which ascertains the validity of political campaign advertisements researched this accusation. According to FactCheck, "The Bush administration is doing a fair amount to fight corporate corruption, convicting or indicting executives of Enron, Arthur Andersen, Tyco International, Worldcom, Adelphia Communications Corporation, Credit Suisse First Boston, HealthSouth Corporation and others, including Martha Stewart. The Department of Justice says it has brought charges against 20 executives of Enron alone, and its Corporate Fraud Task Force says it has won convictions of more than 250 persons to date. Bush also signed the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation in 2002, imposing stringent new accounting rules in the wake of the Arthur Andersen scandal."
When Factcheck.org checked the facts about allegations by Democrats that there was a scandal because of the "no-bid" contracts awarded to Halliburton they stated, "It is false to imply that Bush personally awarded a contract to Halliburton. The ‘no-bid contract’ in question is actually an extension of an earlier contract to support U.S. troops overseas that Halliburton won under open bidding. In fact, the notion that Halliburton benefited from any cronyism has been poo-poohed by a Harvard University professor, Steven Kelman, who was administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Clinton administration. ‘One would be hard-pressed to discover anyone with a working knowledge of how federal contracts are awarded...who doesn't regard these allegations as being somewhere between highly improbable and utterly absurd,’ Kelman wrote in the Washington Post last November." (Emphasis added.)
The Center for Public Integrity another public interest group also investigated the purported scandal of the Halliburton "no-bid" contracts. They wrote:
In Iraq, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) has been awarded five contracts worth at least $10.8 billion, including more than $5.6 billion under the U.S. Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) contract, an omnibus contract that allows the Army to call on KBR for support in all of its field operations. When the Army needs a service performed, it issues a "task order," which lays out specific work requirements under the contract…From 1992 to 1997, KBR held the first LOGCAP contract awarded by the Army, but when it was time to renew the contract, the company lost in the competitive bidding process to DynCorp after the General Accounting Office reported in February 1997 that KBR had overrun its estimated costs in the Balkans by 32 percent (some of which was attributed to an increase in the Army's demands). KBR (obtained) the third LOGCAP contract in December 2001…[I]n November 2002 the Army Corps of Engineers tasked KBR to develop a contingency plan for extinguishing oil well fires in Iraq…[O]n March 24, 2003, the Army Corps announced publicly that KBR had been awarded a contract to restore oil-infrastructure in Iraq, potentially worth $7 billion. The contract KBR received…would eventually include 10 distinct task orders. KBR did not come close to reaching the contract ceiling, billing just over $2.5 billion…The contract was awarded without submission for public bids or congressional notification. In their response to congressional inquiries, Army officials said they determined that extinguishing oil fires fell under the range of services provided under LOGCAP, meaning that KBR could deploy quickly and without additional security clearances.
Neither the Center for Public Integrity nor Factcheck.org determined anything sinister about Halliburton’s no-bid" contracts for the Iraq war. Two nonpartisan, nonaligned, public interest organizations have investigated the Halliburton allegations and found them to be specious allegations made for purely political purposes.
An L.A. Times op-ed of April 22 said, "Halliburton Received No-Bid Contracts During Clinton Administration For Work In Bosnia And Kosovo." An October 2003 article in the (Raleigh, NC) News & Observer quoted Bill Clinton's Undersecretary Of Commerce William Reinsch as saying "'Halliburton has a distinguished track record,' he said. 'They do business in some 120 countries. This is a group of people who know what they're doing in a difficult business. It's a particularly difficult business when people are shooting at you.'"
If Democrats want to investigate a scandal involving Iraq they should devote their efforts to the UN "Oil-for-Food" program instead of Halliburton. However, they will not because Saddam Hussein is not a candidate in this presidential election.