White House Oil Connections Raise Questions

The cozy relationship between the Bush administration and oil
industry giant Halliburton is coming under increased scrutiny as
the government begins to plan the rebuilding of Iraq.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) last week called on the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers to explain why a Halliburton subsidiary was awarded a
contract worth tens of millions of dollars without competitive
bidding and without notifying Congress. The contract with Kellogg
Brown & Root to extinguish oil well fires in Iraq stipulates no
time limit or dollar amount. ?This type of contract is generally
discouraged in the executive branch because it provides the
contractor with an incentive to increase its profits by increasing
the costs to the taxpayers,? Waxman wrote.

The California congressman, the ranking minority member of the
House Committee on Government Reform, noted that the company?s work
for the army in the Balkans in 2000 had also come under scrutiny by
the General Accounting Office for its lack of cost controls.

Meanwhile, the Dallas-based Halliburton, which was headed by
Vice President Dick Cheney before the 2000 presidential campaign,
is reportedly not among the finalists competing to rebuild the
basic infrastructure of post-war Iraq. The Guardian
reports that the company was one of five U.S. firms invited to bid
on the $600 million contract, but did not make the cut?either
because the bid was not competitive or because Halliburton decided
the political risks were too high.

?That kind of political interest was not in their corporate
interests,? an unidentified U.N. official said, noting that
Halliburton operates throughout the Arab world, which has not
looked kindly on the U.S. invasion.

The four other companies invited to bid on the project were
Bechtel, Fluor, Parsons, and Louis Berger. All have ties to the
Bush administration, the Guardian noted.

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