Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Halliburton Part I: Framing the question

OK, so I'm going to do my poor best to research The Halliburton Question, using internet sources pretty much entirely because (a) it'll be an interesting exercise to see what's out there, and (b) it's a whole lot easier than trying to do library research with all my kids in tow. Several things to note:

1. It's gonna take me a while. I'm quite out of practice in doing research, and I have significant other demands on my time.
2. Anything and everything I come up with will be filtered through my interpretations, though I'll do my best to be objective. I don't think Halliburton is lily-white, nor that Cheney has never spoken an untrue word, but I also don't hold any corporation nor any politician to that high a standard - in this respect I guess I'm not a "good neocon," being more of a realist than an idealist.
3. I'll update as I can by adding new threads, and I'll try to keep track of where I was on the previous update!

Onward to Part I: Framing the question. Here are my assumptions:

1. The fact that Halliburton is a multinational corporation is insufficient indictment.
2. The fact that Cheney was its CEO for some five years is insufficient indictment, and that includes his deferred compensation - that deferred compensation is a cashflow tool strikes me as a heck of a lot more likely than that it's an ongoing bribe. I'll even go out on a limb here and state my assumption that Cheney's deferred-compensation package is NOT contingent on ANYTHING - that he's entitled to it even if he suddenly becomes a hydrogen-hugging Birkenstock-wearing Oregon-dwelling anti-oil activist.

And here's the meat of the matter: my understanding of "the controversy" is these three points:
3. Halliburton received a very large (>$1 billion) sole-source contract to provide oilfield and reconstruction services in Iraq. Why? Is the reason given sufficient to (a) explain the rewarding of the contract to Halliburton as opposed to another firm, and (b) justify its being sole-source?
4. Halliburton - or, as I understand it right now, one or more of its subcontractors - significantly overcharged the US government for services in, about, the year following the invasion of Iraq. My further current understanding is that Halliburton themselves brought the overcharges to the attention of the gov't, and that they are repaying/have repayed all overcharges. If that's not the case, why isn't it, and why hasn't Halliburton been pulled off the contract?
5. Some on the left believe that Cheney continues to use his powerful position to create opportunities for his "cronies" at Halliburton and associated firms, ranging from having better access to Iraqi oil production all the way up to taking de-facto control of Iraqi oil production, depending on the level of sanity of the opinionator (I made up that word - like it?)(and I'm also making my own bias clear as air, for everyone's convenience).

Is this framing acceptable? In the absence of comments, I'm going with it.

4 comments:

corpus callosum said...

"The fact that Cheney was its CEO for some five years is insufficient indictment, and that includes his deferred compensation - that deferred compensation is a cashflow tool strikes me as a heck of a lot more likely than that it's an ongoing bribe."

It's true that it's insufficient as an "indictment", but I think your framing is going to have to take into account that his continued relation with Halliburton constitutes a clear conflict of interest.

Rightwingsparkle said...

I will tell you what I know with a hubby that has been in the oil business for 20 years. Halliburton was awarded contracts throughout the Clinton Administration too. Why? Because Halliburton is one of 3 companies in the world that can do what it does and it does it well. And not one company in the U.S. even comes close to be as good.
Conspiracy theories will continue, but the bottom line is they are the best. And one more thing. Cheney would have mad TONS AND TONS more money staying right where he was than running for Vice President. So don't follow the money there.

Jamie said...

Quite so, Sparkle - and welcome! I've said the same to many people (Halliburton, Schlumberger, and, I don't know, maybe Baker-Hughes?). Corpus, it'd sure cut my research time if you could throw me a source on "continued involvement"? Do you mean besides his deferred comp pkg?

Part of my challenge here is to discover what issues are the important ones for the Halliburton enthusiasts. Is it primarily H's doings in Iraq, or Cheney's connection with them? Or both?

Jamie said...
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