— The Erimtan Angle —

‘Sen. Rand Paul is accusing former Vice-President Dick Cheney of advocating for invading Iraq in 2003 in order to make profits off of the country’s oil. Pushing back indirectly, the former Halliburton CEO said he is concerned with the growing trend of isolationism in the Republican Party, a reference to Paul. Cheney has often been called the “architect” of the Iraq War, and routinely faces criticism from the left as well as Libertarians on the right over the US’ involvement in the country. RT’s Lindsay France has a timeline of the tit for tat between these two influential Republicans (7 April 2014)’.

Turns out, crackpots sometimes do make sense . . . or, even Rand Paul can state the obvious . . . Last year the International Business Times‘ Angelo Young reported that the “accounting of the financial cost of the nearly decade-long Iraq War will go on for years, but a recent analysis has shed light on the companies that made money off the war by providing support services as the privatization of what were former U.S. military operations rose to unprecedented levels. Private or publicly listed firms received at least $138 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for government contracts for services that included providing private security, building infrastructure and feeding the troops. Ten contractors received 52 percent of the funds, according to an analysis by the Financial Times that was published [on 19 March 2013]. The No. 1 recipient? Houston-based energy-focused engineering and construction firm KBR, Inc. (NYSE:KBR), which was spun off from its parent, oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL), in 2007. The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms, such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks, as reported by Bloomberg. Who were Nos. 2 and 3? Agility Logistics (KSE:AGLTY) of Kuwait and the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Together, these firms garnered $13.5 billion of U.S. contracts. As private enterprise entered the war zone at unprecedented levels, the amount of corruption ballooned, even if most contractors performed their duties as expected. According to the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the level of corruption by defense contractors may be as high as $60 billion. Disciplined soldiers that would traditionally do many of the tasks are commissioned by private and publicly listed companies. Even without the graft, the costs of paying for these services are higher than paying government employees or soldiers to do them because of the profit motive involved. No-bid contracting – when companies get to name their price with no competing bid – didn’t lower legitimate expenses. (Despite promises by President Barack Obama to reel in this habit, the trend toward granting favored companies federal contracts without considering competing bids continued to grow, by 9 percent [in 2012], according to the Washington Post.). Even though the military has largely pulled out of Iraq, private contractors remain on the ground and continue to reap U.S. government contracts. For example, the U.S. State Department estimates that taxpayers will dole out $3 billion to private guards for the government’s sprawling embassy in Baghdad. The costs of paying private and publicly listed war profiteers seem miniscule in light of the total bill for the war. [In early March 2013], the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University said the war in Iraq cost $1.7 trillion dollars, not including the $490 billion in immediate benefits owed to veterans of the war and the lifetime benefits that will be owed to them or their next of kin”.[1] Cheney worked for Halliburton during a five-year period, from 1995 onwards, and when he quit the post to join the Bush administration, this real-life Darth Vader “received $12.5m in salary. He also held $39m-worth of stock options when he quit the company in 2000”, as worded by the Guardian‘s Pratap Chatterjee in 2011.[2] Chatterjee adds gleefully that “Halliburton’s board of directors voted to award [Cheney] early retirement when he quit his job, even though he was too young to qualify under his contract. That flexibility enabled him to leave with a retirement package, including stock and options, worth millions more than if he had simply resigned. Plus, Halliburton paid out Cheney an extra $1m during the time he served as vice-president”.[3] And what did he do with all that loot, he started by “selling 100,000 Halliburton shares in May 2000, for an immediate profit of $3m. In 2005, Cheney exercised most of what remained of his Halliburton stock options for a $6.9m profit, all of which he donated to charity. (Most of it was donated to the Richard B Cheney Cardiac Institute at George Washington University)” adds Chatterjee.[4]

Now, after all is said and done, Rand Paul appears to notice Cheney’s ill-made gains . . .In fact, now-Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made the above-quoted remarks as long ago as 2009. Paul said the following: “He’s being interviewed [in 1995], I think, by the American Enterprise Institute, and he says it would be a disaster [to enter Iraq], it would be vastly expensive, it would be civil war, we’d have no exit strategy. He goes on and on for five minutes — Dick Cheney saying it would be a bad idea. And that’s why the first Bush didn’t go into Baghdad. Dick Cheney then goes to work for Halliburton. Makes hundreds of millions of dollars — their CEO. Next thing you know, he’s back in government, it’s a good idea to go into Iraq”.[5] In Cheney’s defense, John Bolton, who served as Bush 43’s ambassador to the United Nations, released this statement: “Senator Paul should repudiate his remarks and apologize to Vice President Cheney”.[6] In all fairness, Cheney appears to have acted in good faith when the Bush-Cheney Administration awarded a no-bid contract to KBR, Inc., as he only received an “extra $1m” from the parent company Halliburton during his tenure at the helm of the U.S. ship of state . . .

 

[1] Angelo Young , “Cheney’s Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War” International Business Times (20 March 2013). http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/308-12/16561-focus-cheneys-halliburton-made-395-billion-on-iraq-war.

[2] Pratap Chatterjee, “Dick Cheney’s Halliburton: a corporate case study” The Guardian (08 June 2011). http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/08/dick-cheney-halliburton-supreme-court.

[3] Pratap Chatterjee, “Dick Cheney’s Halliburton: a corporate case study”.

[4] Pratap Chatterjee, “Dick Cheney’s Halliburton: a corporate case study”.

[5] Jennifer Rubin, “Rand Paul’s unwelcome 2009 accusations about Dick Cheney” The Washington Post (07 April 2014). http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/04/07/rand-pauls-unwelcome-2009-accusations-about-dick-cheney/.

[6] Jennifer Rubin, “Rand Paul’s unwelcome 2009 accusations about Dick Cheney”.

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