Halliburton, Timber and Howard Dean

The Pentagon has finally weighed in; Halliburton may have overcharged the US government $61 million dollars in gasoline from Iraq. At this point it’s not a matter of whether or not Halliburton gouged our wallets, it’s a matter of “how much” they ripped us off.

And Dick Cheney’s old comrades aren’t the only greedy capitalists hoping to profit from the Iraq calamity. Thankfully, the Pentagon has caught onto Kellogg, Brown and Root’s latest scheme, and smashed it. The crooks would have overcharged US taxpayers $67 million dollars for cafeteria services in Iraq.

Bush’s reaction? Only we can profit from this war! Of course our allies can reap the benefits of the smoldering battlefield as well. But France, Germany, Canada and Russia?

Forget about it.

Well how have the Democrats reacted to all this? “I have long been troubled by the continued growth of the Pentagon’s no-bid contract with Halliburton,” wrote New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg this week, “[and] the delay in the Pentagon’s promise to compete [with] this contract competitively.”

That’s it? He is just “long been troubled?” Not “outraged,” “furious,” or “irate” over Bush’s lies and deceit? Give me a break.

If you notice Lautenberg is mainly upset because the Pentagon has delayed their promise to allow other corporations to compete over Iraq contracts. He does not once acknowledge that nobody should profit from this illegal invasion. But we can’t count on the Democrats to stand up to the imperial aggressors in the White House-that would be asking far too much from a party controlled by the same pin-stripe patrons as the Republicans.

Well, how about Howard Dean? He’s grassroots, and a nubile compared to Bush and Rove’s whorish fundraising talents. He must have something to say on the issue. Right?

Unfortunately, Dean has been far too tight lipped.

He does talk tough from time to time about corporation’s authority over our government’s policies. “The oil companies write our energy policy; big pharmaceutical companies draft Medicare reform without price controls,” Dean recently said, “and in Iraq, Halliburton is awarded a $1.7 billion no-bid contract.” Sounds good to me. But since this statement last fall, we’ve heard very little from Dean on the escalating matter of Halliburton in Iraq.

Why is that? Could it be that his campaign is receiving money from Halliburton connections too? Say it ain’t so!

Sorry, it is.

According to FCC records, Robert L. Crandall (from Dallas Texas), has given Dean $2,000 to date. Who is Crandall you ask? He is the ex-CEO of American Airlines, and has sat on the board of (you guessed it) Halliburton since 1986.

Obviously this does not mean Dean is wed to Halliburton, or anywhere near as embedded as old Dick Cheney. But it does remind us to keep our eyes peeled for future contributions to Dean, and other Democrats from Halliburton employees, executives, and Board Members.

Also, it should be mentioned that Dean wants to open up Iraq bidding to more contractors; “[a]warding reconstruction contracts in a transparent and open process,” Dean’s website contends, “not just to Halliburton — but to the best US or foreign bidder.” So it is quite certain that Halliburton competitors will be knocking on Dean’s campaign door any day now.

One other Dean tidbit worth noting-it has been revealed that the doctor has an interest in harvesting old trees. That’s right. Dean has two stakes of timber land in Virginia, valued at $100,000 and $200,000 respectively, which have recently been priced for liquidation prospects.

Thankfully, cutting down those old trees would be a politically unwise move for Dean to make at this point.

All this means, is that we need to keep a close watch on the Democratic hopefuls. It would be irresponsible to unashamedly cheerlead around a Bush opponent, without fully knowing the facts behind their candidacy. Campaign season is just starting to roll. Plus, if Dean is the victor, it is in our best interest to know what we’ll be up against come 2004.

JOSH FRANK is a writer living in New York. His work has appeared in Left Turn Magazine, Dissident Voice, Counterpunch, Z Magazine, among others. He can be reached at frank_joshua@hotmail.com


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JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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