Iraqi aid finding its way back to Texas

George Bush's administration has always been known for its close ties to the oil industry. One of his first moves after coming to power was to investigate the feasibility of oil drilling in the pristine Alaskan tundra and taking his lead the US is still the most outspoken critic of the Kyoto environmental initiative.
Iraqi aid finding its way back to Texas Iraqi aid finding its way back to Texas Iraqi aid finding its way back to Texas Iraqi aid finding its way back to Texas Iraqi aid finding its way back to Texas

However, the domination of Vice President Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton in winning vital reconstruction contracts in Iraq has started to create a bit of a smell in the media.

Perhaps the term 'winning vital reconstruction contracts' is a bit loose as the contracting company has already secured around $2 billion worth of work in no-bid deals, that started with an initial $US37.5 million contract in February to put out oil fires.

The contract, which was not announced until more than two weeks after it was awarded, is open-ended, with no time limits and no dollar limits. It was also a "cost-plus" contract, meaning that the company is guaranteed to recover costs and then make a guaranteed profit on top of that.

That deal, expanded to include pumping oil, is now worth about $US948 million, according to Halliburton figures provided to the New York Daily News.

The army has also admitted that the oil contract alone, awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, is potentially worth up to $US7 billion.

Cheney, who served as CEO from 1995 to 2000, continues to receive as much as $1 million a year in deferred compensation from Halliburton and Halliburton executives enjoy a seat at the table during Administration discussions over how to handle post-war oil production in Iraq, according to the US-based CorpWatch

The US Center for Public Integrity said that back in 1995, when Cheney became CEO, Halliburton jumped from 73rd to 18th on the Pentagon's list of top contractors, benefiting from at least $3.8 billion in federal contracts and taxpayer-insured loans.

The issue has come under increasing scrutiny from politicians in the US with Steve Israel, a member of the US House (of Representatives) Armed Services Committee, sponsoring legislation that would make it difficult for private military contractors to win contracts without public scrutiny.

However the problems and associated workloads in Iraq continue to grow everyday. Just how much work the Iraqis get to do is another matter.

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