Re: Is it a mistake to not talk to Hamas?
- From: Bert Byfield <BertByfield@xxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 31 Jan 2006 00:37:17 GMT
>> I guess Halliburton can sell both
>> sides a lot of guns and stuff, making a big profit.
> I wasn't aware that Halliburton sold guns to anybody; I'd really be
> interested in seeing your evidence for this assertion.
"Zero Halliburton proudly offers their distinctive line of gun cases to
the discerning personal weapons owner. These cases have an outer shell
that is constructed of high-grade aluminum. The aluminum used in
manufacturing Zero Halliburton?s gun cases is the same aluminum that is
used to build airplanes. The interior is filled with removable high-
density foam layers to keep your gun snug inside the case. Each case
comes with key lockable drawbolt latches, a three digit combination lock
and a tennite handle for comfortable carrying. A neoprene gasket will
protect the contents of the case from dust and moisture. Zero Halliburton
makes cases for a variety of guns, ranging from rifles to hand guns. To
request a quote, send an e-mail to sales@xxxxxxxxxxxx or call a cases2Go
representative at 1-800-636-1690."
"Starting in the late spring of 1976 Teddy had wanted me to join her
operations from within the ranks of LAPD. I had refused to get involved
with drugs in any way and everything she mentioned seemed to involve
either heroin or cocaine along with guns that she was always moving out
of the country. The Director of the CIA then was George Herbert Walker
Employees of Kellogg Brown and Root, a subsidiary of the Dallas-based
Halliburton Corp. (once run by Vice President Dick Cheney), are scheduled
to arrive at the Bagram air base in southern Afghanistan to take over the
day-to-day support services at the Force Provider camp starting in late
April or early May (the exact date is classified). They are also set to
arrive at the Khanabad air base in Uzbekistan, one of the main military
support stations for the war in Afghanistan, to run three Air Force
Harvest Eagle camps (an older version of Force Provider) for the 1,500
U.S. troops based there since October, according to Daniel McGinty, a
spokesperson at the Defense Contract Management Agency, which will be
overseeing the contracts.
"They [Brown and Root] will be maintaining these packages, [doing] base
camp maintenance, facilities maintenance, laundry services, food
services, airfield services, property accountability, and supply
operations," says Gale L. Smith, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army
Operations Support Command in Alexandria, Va. (Brown and Root is now
named Kellogg Brown and Root, following a corporate merger, but is often
referred to by its previous name.) She refused to confirm or deny whether
Brown and Root would be working on similar bases in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, or
other sites in Afghanistan and Pakistan to support Operation Enduring
The new job is one of the first examples of a private company being
awarded a lucrative contract from the Pentagon to run the day-to-day
support operations on the battlefield. In December 2001, Brown and Root
secured a 10-year deal called Logistics Civil Augmentation Program
(LOGCAP), according to a Pentagon press release. The contract is a "cost-
plus-award-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity service," which
basically means that the federal government has an open-ended mandate and
budget to send Brown and Root anywhere in the world to run humanitarian
or military operations for a profit.
And critics are alarmed. The military has a long-celebrated, cozy
relationship with private industry, but Brown and Root's goes much
further. For private industry will now essentially run a war operation.
And the potential problems are legion, military critics warn. Not only
will civilians be running around overseas with guns, but they'll also be
answering to nobody.
"The Bush-Cheney team have turned the United States into a family
business," says Harvey Wasserman, author of The Last Energy War (Seven
Stories Press, 2000). "That's why we haven't seen Cheney ? he's cutting
deals with his old buddies who gave him a multimillion-dollar golden
handshake. Have they no grace, no shame, no common sense? Why don't they
just have Enron run America? Or have Zapata Petroleum [George W. Bush's
failed oil-exploration venture] build a pipeline across Afghanistan?"
Halliburton, Brown and Root's parent company, is a Fortune 500
construction corporation working primarily for the oil industry. In the
early 1990s the company was awarded the job to study and then implement
the privatization of routine army functions under then-secretary of
defense Dick Cheney.
When Cheney quit his Pentagon job, he landed as chief executive of
Halliburton, bringing with him his trusted deputy David Gribbin. The two
substantially increased Halliburton's government business until they quit
in 2000, once Cheney was elected vice president. Since then another
confidante of Cheney, Adm. Joe Lopez, former commander in chief for U.S.
forces in southern Europe, took over Gribbin's old job of go-between for
the government and the company, according to Brown and Root's own press
releases (see "Dick Cheney: Soldier of Fortune," page 23). Other close
friends include Richard Armitage, the assistant secretary of state, who
worked as a consultant to Halliburton before taking up his present job.
Last year the company took in $13 billion in revenues, according to its
latest annual report. Currently, Brown and Root estimates it has $740
million in existing U.S. government contracts (approximately 37 percent
of its global business), most of which are in addition to the LOGCAP
For example, in mid November 2001, Brown and Root was paid $2 million to
reinforce the U.S. embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, under contract with
the State Department, according to the New York Times. More recently
Brown and Root was paid $16 million by the federal government to go to
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to build a 408-person prison for captured Taliban
fighters, according to Pentagon press releases.
That's by no means all: Brown and Root employees can be found back home
running support operations from Fort Knox, Ky., to a naval base in El
Centro, Calif., according to information provided by the company.
And it is also snapping up contracts with American allies, according to
company press releases: In September 2001 the company signed on to a $283
million project for Russia's Defense Threat Reduction Agency to eliminate
liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missiles and their silos. In
November 2001 the Philippines awarded the company a $100 million order to
convert the U.S. Navy's former ship-repair facilities in Subic Bay into a
modern commercial port facility. And in December it won a $420 million
contract from the British Army to support a fleet of new mammoth tank
Critics charge that this is a classic example of the revolving door
between government and big business. "Cheney gives new meaning to the
term 'revolving door.' " says Bill Hartung, senior research fellow at the
World Policy Institute in New York. "If he does not get elected president
next, I have no doubt he will return to Halliburton when he leaves the
Jennifer Millerwise, a spokesperson for Cheney's office, denies that
there was any contact help from the White House: "The vice president did
not discuss this with anybody from Halliburton or any subsidiary of
Halliburton. Nor does he comment on Halliburton's policies, since he
doesn't work there any more."
The business of war
But Brown and Root is no stranger to the war business. From 1962 to 1972
the Pentagon paid the company tens of millions of dollars to work in
South Vietnam, where they built roads, landing strips, harbors, and
military bases from the demilitarized zone to the Mekong Delta. The
company was one of the main contractors hired to construct the Diego
Garcia air base in the Indian Ocean, according to Pentagon military
The privatization of services at military camps is a relatively new
concept that was introduced in 1992, when the Pentagon, then under
Cheney's direction, paid Brown and Root $3.9 million to produce a
classified report detailing how private companies (like itself) could
help provide logistics for U.S. operations abroad (see "Dick Cheney:
Soldier of Fortune," page 23). Several months later the Pentagon gave the
company an additional $5 million to update its report.
That same year Brown and Root won its first five-year LOGCAP contract
from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which would send them to work
alongside G.I.s in places such as Somalia, Haiti, the Balkans, Bosnia,
and Saudi Arabia. Brown and Root's work in the Balkans has been the most
profitable for the company ? the General Accounting Office (GAO)
estimates the company made $2.2 billion in revenue during the military
operations there, building sewage systems, kitchens, and showers and even
washing underwear for the 20,000 soldiers stationed there.
A student research report written by Maj. Maria Dowling and published by
the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama shows that Brown
and Root employees can be required to live with soldiers, wear battle
dress uniforms, and be issued guns (ostensibly for personal protection).
They are substituting for conventional military support units ? with
acronyms that would make a vegetarian cringe ? such as Prime Base
Engineer Emergency Force (Prime BEEF), Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy
Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE), and Prime Readiness in
Base Service (Prime RIBS).
The ratio of such contractors to military personnel is rapidly rising
from 1 in 50 during Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War to 1 in 10 in
Operation Just Endeavor in the Balkans, according to other Air University
Praise from the army, criticism from outside
Col. Tom Palmer, maintenance chief for Task Force Eagle in Bosnia,
admiringly describes how closely he worked with private contractors such
as Brown and Root in Bosnia at a Sept. 18, 1997, operation to seize and
maintain control of a transmission tower on Mount Zep that was
transmitting continuous, inflammatory anti-NATO Stabilization Force
messages to the public. In a recent issue of Army Logistician, he wrote,
"For soldiers familiar with the Bosnian area of operations, the name
'Brown and Root Services Corporation' (BRSC) became synonymous with
But other government agencies are more sceptical. "It is convenient to
contract a lot of this work out," says Neil Curtin, director of
operations and readiness issues for the GAO defense capabilities and
management team. "The problem is that the government doesn't do the best
job of oversight."
Policy analysts say it's simply a matter of time before something goes
wrong. Thomas Donnelly, deputy executive director of the Project for the
New American Century in Washington, D.C., says, "We've been pretty lucky
so far that nothing has gone wrong. The Balkans were one thing, but
Central Asia is a much tougher neighborhood. Suppose a local Afghani
contractor gets kidnapped or used for mischief? This has not been thought
through at the policy level or opened up for public debate. There's a lot
of opportunity for things to fall through the cracks and a huge security
Christopher Helmand, research analyst at the Center for Defense
Information, a think tank on military affairs, believes that
privatization can help reduce waste and inefficiency in the military but
points out that security is a big concern. "What do we do when somebody
infiltrates a U.S. military base and blows it up? If we have civilians
walking in and out of our bases because they are 'our allies' in the
Northern Alliance or private contractors, we increase our risk
considerably," he says. "We simply don't have all the bugs worked out
because this is such a new area."
Sometimes the risks have come from inside. In 1994, United Nations troops
armed with batons and tear gas had to be brought in to quell protests by
workers Brown and Root dismissed at the end of its engagement in Somalia.
In Saudi Arabia the army was alarmed when it discovered locally
contracted drivers were firing up portable propane tanks to cook meals in
the desert while transporting high-explosive ordnance weapons, according
to the Dowling report.
Certain contractors, including Brown and Root, have also complained that
the army treats them as second-class citizens. On at least one occasion,
food-service contractors walked off the job in Saudi Arabia when they
were not provided with proper protection against chemical attacks;
another time, contractors moved out of army tents and checked into a
hotel in defiance of army orders, according to a research report by Major
Lisa Turner of the U.S. Air Force.
Independent agencies are still sceptical about claimed financial savings
from the privatization of military support operations, and the GAO has
conducted several investigations. A February 1997 study showed that an
operation estimated at $191.6 million when presented to Congress in 1996
had ballooned to $461.5 million a year later.
Examples of overspending by contractors have included flying plywood from
the United States to the Balkans at $85.98 a sheet and billing the army
to pay its employees' income taxes in Hungary.
A subsequent GAO report, issued September 2000, showed that Brown and
Root was still taking advantage of the contract in the Balkans, noting
that army commanders were unable to keep track of the contract, as they
were typically rotated out of camps after a six-month duration, erasing
The GAO painted a picture of Brown and Root contract employees sitting
idly most of the time. The report also noted that a lot of staff time was
spent doing unnecessary tasks, such as cleaning offices four times a day.
Allegations of fraud
In February 2002, Brown and Root paid out $2 million to settle a suit
with the Justice Department that alleged the company defrauded the
government during the mid-1990s closure of Fort Ord in Monterey, Calif.
The allegations in the case surfaced several years ago when Dammen Gant
Campbell, a former contracts manager for Brown and Root turned whistle-
blower, charged that between 1994 and 1998 the company fraudulently
inflated project costs by misrepresenting the quantities, quality, and
types of materials required for 224 projects. Campbell said the company
submitted a detailed "contractors pricing proposal" from an army manual
containing fixed prices for some 30,000 line items.
Once the proposal was approved, the company submitted a more general
"statement of work," which did not contain a breakdown of items to be
purchased. Campbell maintained the company intentionally did not deliver
many items listed in the original proposal. The company defended this
practice by claiming the statement of work was the legally binding
document, not the original contractors pricing proposal.
"Whether you characterize it as fraud or sharp business practices, the
bottom line is the same: the government was not getting what it paid
for," says Michael Hirst, of the United States Attorney's Office in
Sacramento, who litigated the suit on behalf of the government. "We
alleged that they exploited the contracting process and increased their
profits at the governments expense."
Campbell's attorney Dan Schrader has a guess as to why the company was so
eager to compromise. "If the company was indicted, I suspect that it
might have been far more difficult for them to get new government
contracts," he says.
Indeed, the company's 2001 annual report says just that in its notes on
the settlement of the lawsuit: "Brown and Root's ability to perform
further work for the U.S. government has not been impaired." Hirst adds,
"Brown and Root was very cooperative and eager to settle. They said they
wanted to maintain a good relationship with the government."
The company will have a harder time milking the contract in Afghanistan,
because the government is now dispatching auditors from the Defense
Contract Management Agency to monitor all purchases, but it still stands
to at least make a profit on whatever it can bill. The contract allows
for the company to charge a fee of up to 9 percent over cost. The exact
amount depends on performance in the field.
And if the war on terrorism expands to the size of the Balkan operations,
profits could add up to a few hundred million dollars. In addition to the
bases in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan, the army started dispatching Force
Provider units to Kyrgyzstan's Manas air base as recently as January 2002
to support up to 3,500 soldiers. Whether or not Brown and Root will
follow them there, the army has yet to tell the public.
"Brown and Root has not deployed nor been tasked to provide support in
either country," company spokesperson Zelma Branch said, refusing to give
any more details about the current LOGCAP contract. When provided with
evidence that the company was indeed going to both countries, she e-
mailed us, "We can not elaborate at this time. Recommend you contact the
The Pentagon, on the other hand, is considering expanding the role of the
private sector to do a variety of services, from refueling fighter jets
and bombers in midair to running missile-tracking systems.
Inside military circles, talk has it that the Defense Security
Cooperation Agency (DSCA) is considering hiring private contractors to
train the new Afghan police and army, which it has done in the past in
places such as Croatia, where it hired Military Professionals Resources
MPRI, founded in 1988 by former army chief of staff Carl Vuono and seven
other retired generals, was harshly criticized after the Croatian
military, in a highly effective offensive called Operation Storm,
captured the Serb-held Krajina enclave later that year, uprooting more
than 150,000 Serbs from their homes.
David Des Roches, a DSCA spokesman, denied that the Pentagon had a
proposal on the table at the moment but did not rule out the future
possibility: "A lot of people have said, 'Ding, ding, ding, gravy
train.' But in point of fact, it makes sense. They're probably better at
doing these sorts of missions than anyone else I could think of."
The World Policy Institute's Hartung disagrees. "This is a company that
has more experience with insider dealing and corruption than with
efficiency," he says. "During the Second World War, there was a Senate
committee on war profiteering. Personally I think we should set it up
again and investigate Brown and Root," he says.
Pratap Chatterjee is an investigative environmental writer and producer.
This article was produced with support from the CorpWatch fund for
investigative journalism. (www.corpwatch.org). He is also coproducer and
host of the weekly Terra Verde radio show on KPFA, 94.1-FM, Fri., 1-2
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