Adding More Masala…

Patna Daily, India
Aug 25 2004

Adding More Masala…
by Avishek Suman

I must thank Mr. Rakesh Chaubey for his recent article titled
“Politically Speaking… Thoughts to Mull Over” wherein he presented
a snapshot of American politics in the wake of coming election in US.

This article of mine will try to add more spice to the American

A peep into Dick Cheney’s antecedent tells us that before assuming
the post of Vice president of US, he was the CEO of a company called
Halliburton. He served Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. Halliburton is
a company that has always been in controversy. The company was first
criticized for doing business with Libya, Azerbaijan and Burma
despite the fact that US government had banned any trade with these
countries. (US ban on Libya was for bombing a German disco in 1986
wherein two US soldiers died, Azerbaijan for ‘ethnic cleansing’ of
Armenians and Burma for curbing democracy).

Cheney’s tenure in Halliburton also witnessed several unethical
practices by the company. As a matter of fact unethical practices
peaked during his time. The company allegedly altered its accounting
policy in 1998 for which it is still investigated by SEC (US
counterpart of SEBI). When Cheney left Halliburton to join the Vice
president office he was awarded with the compensation package of $20

Then as we all know in March 2003, Iraq war II happened. For all
logistic support for the war US government awarded several contracts
to Halliburton. The work involved erecting camps for soldiers,
feeding US army, extinguishing oil wells in Iraq and supplying Iraq
with the required oil. There were two interesting features of the
contracts. Firstly, these were “no bid contracts”, that is government
had awarded Halliburton without considering any other company.
Secondly, these were “cost plus contracts” that is whatever the cost
the company incurs plus its margin will be paid by the government to
the company. A lot of people started raising their voices that
Halliburton was a corrupt company and contracts were given to it only
because of its ties with Cheney.

In August, 2003 Pentagon complained that the meals that the company
was serving to the troops were unhygienic, as they were prepared in
most dirty conditions with blood all around. Pentagon asked the
company to “clean up”. But the company failed to do so.

In December 2003 Pentagon alleged that the company had overcharged to
the extent of $61 million for oil it imported from Iraq and charged
$186 millions for food that was never delivered. This brought the
company under sever criticism. The strongest voice of course came
from the Democrats.

To make the matter worse for Halliburton and Cheney, two employees of
the company met Henry Waxman (a Democrat from California) and told
him that the company had wasted millions of dollars of US tax-payers
because the company did not mind the cost (the contracts were all
cost plus!). They gave many examples of wasteful activities, which
included abandoning of trucks worth $85,000 because of flat tires and
minor problems.

Mr. Kerry now says “Halliburton is guilty of shameful
war-profiteering, and they need to be held accountable” whereas the
company says it has become the target of “Political profiteering” and
Cheney has been keeping mum.

While Pentagon investigates the “over-billing issue”, democrats have
got enough masala for the election campaign.