Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Under Cheney, Halliburton Helped Saddam Siphon Billions from UN’s Oil-for-Food Program

 

When the Iraqi Survey Group released its long awaited report last week that said Iraq eliminated its weapons programs in the 1990s, President George W. Bush quickly changed his stance on reasons he authorized an invasion of Iraq. While he campaigned for a second term in office, Bush justified the war by saying that that Saddam Hussein was manipulating the United Nation’s oil-for-food program, siphoning off billions of dollars from the venture that he intended to use to fund a weapons program.

The report on Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction, prepared by Charles Duelfer, a former U.N. weapons inspector and head of the Iraqi Survey Group, said Saddam Hussein used revenue from the oil-for-food program and “created a web of front companies and used shadowy deals with foreign governments, corporations, and officials to amass $11 billion in illicit revenue in the decade before the US-led invasion last year,” reports The New York Times.

“Through secret government-to-government trade agreements, Saddam Hussein’s government earned more than $7.5 billion,” the report says. “At the same time, by demanding kickbacks from foreign companies that received oil or that supplied consumer goods, Iraq received at least $2 billion more to spend on weapons or on Saddam’s extravagant palaces.”

The oil-for-food program was supervised by the U.N. and ran from 1996 until the war started in Iraq last year. It was designed to alleviate the effects sanctions had on Iraqi citizens by allowing limited quantities of oil to be sold to buy food and medicine.

But the one company that helped Saddam exploit the oil-for-food program in the mid-1990s that wasn’t identified in Duelfer’s report was Halliburton, and the person at the helm of Halliburton at the time of the scheme was Vice President Dick Cheney. Halliburton and its subsidiaries were one of several American and foreign oil supply companies that helped Iraq increase its crude exports from $4 billion in 1997 to nearly $18 billion in 2000 by skirting U.S. laws and selling Iraq spare parts so it could repair its oil fields and pump more oil. Since the oil-for-food program began, Iraq has sold $40 billion worth of oil. U.S. and European officials have long argued that the increase in Iraq’s oil production also expanded Saddam’s ability to use some of that money for weapons, luxury goods and palaces. Security Council diplomats estimate that Iraq was skimming off as much as 10 percent of the proceeds from the oil-for-food program thanks to companies like Halliburton and former executives such as Cheney.

U.N. documents show that Halliburton’s affiliates have had controversial dealings with the Iraqi regime during Cheney’s tenure at the company and played a part in helping Saddam Hussein illegally pocket billions of dollars under the U.N.’s oil-for-food program. The Clinton administration blocked one deal Halliburton was trying to push through sale because it was “not authorized under the oil-for-food deal,” according to U.N. documents. That deal, between Halliburton subsidiary Ingersoll Dresser Pump Co. and Iraq, included agreements by the firm to sell nearly $1 million in spare parts, compressors and firefighting equipment to refurbish an offshore oil terminal, Khor al Amaya. Still, Halliburton used one of foreign subsidiaries to sell Iraq the equipment it needed so the country could pump more oil, according to a report in the Washington Post in June 2001.

The Halliburton subsidiaries, Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll Dresser Pump Co., sold water and sewage treatment pumps, spare parts for oil facilities and pipeline equipment to Baghdad through French affiliates from the first half of 1997 to the summer of 2000, U.N. records show. Ingersoll Dresser Pump also signed contracts — later blocked by the United States — according to the Post, to help repair an Iraqi oil terminal that U.S.-led military forces destroyed in the Gulf War years earlier.

Cheney’s hard-line stance against Iraq on the campaign trail is hypocritical considering that during his tenure as chief executive of Halliburton, Cheney pushed the U.N. Security Council, after he became CEO to end an 11-year embargo on sales of civilian goods, including oil related equipment, to Iraq. Cheney has said sanctions against countries like Iraq unfairly punish U.S. companies.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Cheney adamantly denied that under his leadership, Halliburton did business with Iraq. While he acknowledged that his company did business with Libya and Iran through foreign subsidiaries, Cheney said, “Iraq’s different.” He claimed that he imposed a “firm policy” prohibiting any unit of Halliburton against trading with Iraq.

“I had a firm policy that we wouldn’t do anything in Iraq, even arrangements that were supposedly legal,” Cheney said on the ABC-TV news program “This Week” on July 30, 2000. “We’ve not done any business in Iraq since U.N. sanctions were imposed on Iraq in 1990, and I had a standing policy that I wouldn’t do that.”

But Cheney’s denials don’t hold up. Halliburton played a major role in helping Iraq repair its oil fields during the mid-1990s that allowed Saddam to siphon off funds from the oil-for-food program to fund a weapons program, which Cheney and President Bush insist was the case.

As secretary of defense in the first Bush administration, Cheney helped to lead a multinational coalition against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War and to devise a comprehensive economic embargo to isolate Saddam Hussein’s government. After Cheney was named chief executive of Halliburton in 1995, he promised to maintain a hard line against Baghdad.

But that changed when it appeared that Halliburton was headed for a financial crisis in the mid-1990s. Cheney said sanctions against countries like Iraq were hurting corporations such as Halliburton.

“We seem to be sanction-happy as a government,” Cheney said at an energy conference in April 1996, reported in the oil industry publication Petroleum Finance Week.

“The problem is that the good Lord didn’t see fit to always put oil and gas resources where there are democratic governments,” he observed during his conference presentation.

Sanctions make U.S. businesses “the bystander who gets hit when a train wreck occurs,” Cheney told Petroleum Finance Week. “While virtually every other country sees the need for sanctions against Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s regime there, Cheney sees general agreement that the measures have not been very effective despite their having most of the international community’s support. An individual country’s embargo, such as that of the United States against Iran, has virtually no effect since the target country simply signs a contract with a non-U.S. business,” the publication reported.

JASON LEOPOLD is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires where he spent two years covering the energy crisis and the Enron bankruptcy. He just finished writing a book about the crisis, due out in December through Rowman & Littlefield. He can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

 

More articles by:

JASON LEOPOLD is the former Los Angeles bureau chief of Dow Jones Newswires where he spent two years covering the energy crisis and the Enron bankruptcy. He just finished writing a book about the crisis, due out in December through Rowman & Littlefield. He can be reached at: jasonleopold@hotmail.com

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail