FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Tale of Two "Employees"…Oops…Make That "Workers"

by DAVID VEST

Hardly had the words “unfairly maligned” escaped Dick Cheney’s lips when his former company found itself neck-deep in yet another bribery scandal. Halliburton praised itself for “strong internal detective work” as it revealed the latest “apparent overcharges,” amounting this time to $6.3 million.

“In the towns I am tracked by phantoms having weird detective ways,” wrote Thomas Hardy.

The phantom detective agency formerly run by Cheney appeared to be going to extraordinary lengths to protect rather than divulge the identities of the two “employees” who allegedly demanded and got $6M in kickbacks for subletting a contract to a Kuwaiti firm (whose identity is also a mystery).

Elements missing from both the “detective report” and, alas, the media coverage of the scandal: Who were these mysterious “employees”? How high up in the corporate hierarchy were they? What were their job titles? What has happened to them? Where are they now?

Forbes called them “workers,” as though they carried lunch buckets and sang Woody Guthrie songs. Apparently Forbes believes “workers” are typically in a position to sign-off on major international contracts and demand multi-million dollar kickback fees.

Most accounts since the story broke have simply identified the alleged bribe-takers as humble “employees.” In some versions they appear as “officials” or even “staffers.” Sent by a temp agency, perhaps?

It was up to The Guardian and a few other sources, mostly outside the U.S., to identify the perps as “executives.”

Whatever they were, they were placed high enough to be negotiating contracts big enough to permit them to skim off $6 million.

Assume, then, that we are talking about “executives.” What happened to them?

Both the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press reported last Friday that Halliburton had fired them. Most press accounts have repeated the firings as fact. Reuters, however, originally reported that Halliburton “declined to say the employees had been fired.”

Most interestingly, CBS News (also last Friday) cited unnamed sources who claimed the two people “left before the problem was discovered and were not fired.” Did they leave with the $6M?

If two “employees” grabbed $6M in kickbacks, some might (and did) wonder, why was it Halliburton (and not, say, the two crooks who took the bribe) who cut the check to reimburse the government? Is corporate money one thing, but personal money another?

“The key issue here,” said Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall, “is self-disclosure and self-reporting.”

Actually, Wendy, the issue is corruption.

Hall’s efforts to turn a confession of criminal behavior into an orgy of self-congratulation were nothing compared to the company’s decision to relaunch an ad campaign to “counter negative publicity.” Actually, the ads have been running since last November, with spots airing on CNN, MSNBC, Fox and selected local news programs.

When they first appeared, Preston Turegano (of Sign-on San Diego) observed that the campaign makes Halliburton unique among other Iraq and Afghanistan contract holders, who “do not have TV spots ballyhooing their business in the Middle East.” He found the ads reminiscent of the campaign Saudi Arabia launched in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, carried out for the most part by Saudi men.

Halliburton is running paid print announcements, too. In a Houston Chronicle ad, CEO Dave Lesar says “not many companies have our know-how” then proceeds to call flipping omelets for troops a “special skill,” not a “special interest.”

Lesar somehow neglects to mention the fact that, as NBC News reported last December, the Pentagon has repeatedly warned Halliburton and its subsidiary KBR that U.S. troops in Iraq were being served dirty food in dirty mess halls. The Pentagon reported finding “blood all over the floor,” “dirty pans,” “dirty grills,” “dirty salad bars” and “rotting meats and vegetables” in military messes the company operates in Iraq.

Blood all over the mess hall floor. Including the one where George W. Bush posed with a turkey on Thanksgiving.

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, just released a scorching new CD, Way Down Here.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail