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"And the stars are projectors, yeah, projecting our lives down to this planet Earth." - Modest Mouse


6.23.2004

Important Facts Every Voter Should Know 

This article by Robert Bryce, author of Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate, was in the June issue of Maxim. It's probably the most damning, right-on indictment of BushCo yet printed in the mainstream media. Fingering the real players like Cheney, Baker, Halliburton, Brown & Root, and Senior, Bryce shows how they built Texas Oil into an empire controlling the most powerful country on the planet. Maxim has a distribution of 1.66 million and their circulation grew 126.7% in the past year.

I highly recommend reading the whole article. Some excerpts:
The United States of Texas

Mina al-Bakr was built by the quintessential Texas company Brown & Root, the same Brown & Root that’s part of Halliburton, the world’s second-largest oil field services firm. That’s the same Halliburton that, until the summer of 2000, employed a former defense secretary named Dick Cheney and gave him a going-away present worth tens of millions of dollars. It’s the same firm that, in 2001 and 2002, while Cheney was vice president of the U.S., paid him more than $367,000 in deferred compensation. It’s the same Texas company that the Pentagon handed a no-bid, no-risk, cost-plus contract worth up to $7 billion to rehabilitate Iraq’s oil fields and infrastructure....

George W. Bush and his supporters say the war in Iraq is not about oil, but James A. Baker III, a crony of both George Bushes and secretary of state during the first Gulf War, said it himself over 13 years ago: “[The] economic lifeline of the industrial world runs from the [Persian] Gulf,” he stated at a press conference in November 1990, “and we cannot permit a dictator such as this to sit astride that economic lifeline. And to bring it down to the average American citizen, let me say that means jobs. If you want to sum it up in one word, it’s jobs. Because an economic recession worldwide, caused by the control of one nation, one dictator if you will, of the West’s economic lifeline will result in the loss of jobs on the part of American citizens.” [Ed note: Unless that dictator is a Texas Oilman.]

Bush and Cheney are part of a small group of powerful, Big Rich Texans who, through their connections to the energy industry, have exerted extraordinary influence in the United States and the world. Crony capitalism may happen everywhere, but the virulent strain of Texas cronyism now infecting America’s capitalist democracy is more brazen than any of the strains of cronyism seen thus far...

In 1995 a dozen years after Brown’s death, Halliburton—[Brown & Root] B&R’s parent company—hired the ultimate Washington insider, Dick Cheney. With Cheney at the helm, Halliburton’s business and America’s business would become inseparable.

One of the best descriptors of Cheney’s style was his Secret Service code name when he was chief of staff to President Gerald R. Ford: Back Seat. With Back Seat in the driver’s seat, Halliburton’s fortunes improved rapidly. The war zone contracting that B&R started in Vietnam—which Cheney avoided through student and marital deferments—was coming full circle. By the 1990s, thanks in part to Cheney, B&R was servicing the military in Zaire, Haiti, Kosovo, the Balkans, Somalia, and Saudi Arabia.

Although the Pentagon was happy with Brown & Root’s work, the General Accounting Office was not. In 1997 it found that the company was charging the Army in the Balkans $86 for $14 plywood sheets, and that the Army was “unable to ensure that the contractor adequately controlled costs.” In 2000 the GAO again found that B&R was fleecing the military in Kosovo on everything from electricity to staff. One example: Army offices at Camp Bondsteel were cleaned four times a day. During Dick Cheney’s tenure, 1995 to 2000, B&R’s logistics contract in Kosovo became one of the most expensive in Pentagon history, at $2.2 billion.

Cheney made sure the money got to the right people. He doubled Halliburton’s political giving to over $1.2 million in soft and hard money—mostly to Republicans—according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He also doubled Halliburton’s lobbying budget, to about $600,000. One of his main objectives: ease sanctions in the Middle East.

“The good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected regimes friendly to the United States,” he said in a 1998 speech at the Cato Institute. ...

Then there were the deals with Saddam’s regime. While Cheney was CEO, Halliburton sold Iraq $73 million in oil equipment and spare parts through its European subsidiaries, and did some $23.8 million worth of oil field work in Iraq the late 1990s, even though Cheney insisted that he had imposed a “firm policy” against trading with Saddam.

Comments:
dan briody's book The Halliburton Agenda is also promising

(I caught a good deal of his talk sunday morning on cspan and am twiddling with it into one of them tracks I make)

the whole LBJ KBR connection is fascinating, especially considering the size of contract KBR landed two weeks after JFK was killed by, uh.. mmmm.. haitian voodou?
 
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