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Cheney Faces Arrest in Nigeria for Halliburton Bribes

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Before Dick Cheney anointed himself George W. Bush's running mate, he was President Ford's Chief of Staff, House Minority Whip for the GOP during Reagan's tenure and Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush, steering Operation Desert Storm in Iraq.

After President Clinton took office, Cheney parlayed his Pentagon connections into multi-millions as CEO of Halliburton, steering the US military into massive privatization of services like laundry and cooking for troops in lucrative cost-plus defense contracts.

After Cheney became Vice President, Halliburton/KBR would receive more than half of the privatized defense contracts during unprecedented debt-spending at the height of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. During the Bush-Cheney years, Halliburton weathered scandal after scandal including price gouging, overbilling, falsifying invoices, bribery, rape, manslaughter, kickbacks and secret no-bid contracts, paying handsome fines to smooth the way for more exclusives as they grew 600 times in size, and Cheney's "parked" stock holdings grew 3,280% as Halliburton systematically off-shored most of their mailing addresses to dodge US taxes.

Private contractors in combat zones saw employees receiving extra "hazard pay" for supplying goods and services, often double or triple the salaries of the soldiers who traditionally carried out these tasks.

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The same contractors would lobby Congress to decriminalize rape overseas and fight for less protection for whistleblowers after President Bush stunningly admitted he had no idea what laws governed any of these firms in the chaos of Iraq. In the absence of legal accountability or Congressional oversight, armed contractors executed innocent Iraqis indiscriminately for "9/11 payback", a caricature of American stupidity and evil.

Instead of getting their contracts revoked, Halliburton actually got $70 million in "excellence awards" from the Bush administration. At one point Halliburton was paid $1.8 billion dollars in charges the administration's own auditors disputed.

It is against this backdrop that we hear a bribery case against Halliburton in Nigeria resurfacing with new arrests this week and more indictments forthcoming. A spokesman for Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission said that they have continued to investigate the case after Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root paid $579 million in fines for making bribes in a conspiracy with a French-Japanese consortium seeking a $6 billion exclusive to a liquefied natural gas project in the Niger Delta.
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Days after twelve employees were arrested in Nigeria, the official said Cheney would be named with other top Halliburton/KBR officers past and present in arrest warrants on conspiracy charges that will be submitted to Interpol. Cheney ran Halliburton beginning in 1995 shortly after the $180 million bribery plot began. Cheney's lawyer denied any wrongdoing, arguing the incident happened over ten years ago.

In 2004, a French judge flirted with charging Cheney when Halliburton lawyer Jeffrey Tesler was identified as the bag man and money-launderer of the $180 million. Moonlighting for Halliburton while he also served as financial advisor to the Nigerian dictator General Sami Abacha, Tesler admitted paying $385,000 to Albert J. "Jack" Stanley, president of KBR who was appointed by Dick Cheney. Later accounts claim Stanley received over $5 million from Tesler's slush fund.

The Financial Times of London reported: "Mr Cheney knew, or should have known about one of the largest contracts awarded to a Halliburton subsidiary". Technically, Cheney could have been charged under French law which unlike US law, does not require CEOs to be aware of bribes to be held culpable. Stanley pled guilty in the earlier KBR settlement and Tesler is in the UK fighting extradition to the US after a district court in Houston, Texas issued a warrant for his arrest in February 2009.

This announcement signals increasing desire in the international community for Bush administration figures to be held accountable for their actions. Last month, London mayor Boris Johnson announced George W. Bush may be arrested if he showed up there following Bush's admission he approved waterboarding. Cheney admitted giving similar orders.

In March 2009, a Spanish court sought indictments of Cheney's lawyer David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Douglas Feith and others for trying to legalize torture but were blocked by Republican Senators and the Obama administration.

The involvement of Halliburton was clear in this pipeline scandal after KBR's President was caught red-handed, yet the limited media coverage in the US has helped the firm continue on as a major defense contractor, paying the Bush DOJ and SEC to "settle" the case without any criminal charges for the conspirators.

It's as if the US government was simply cut into the deal, realizing almost a billion in fines to quietly close the case. But Nigeria hasn't dropped the matter. Despite it's own long history of corruption, Nigerian official Godwin Obla claims there is still justice due while others theorize the action is meant to embarrass a Nigerian official allegedly linked to the scandal who is running for office in upcoming elections.

Despite coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, the BBC, CNN, Huffington Post, Fox Nation, Bloomberg, USA Today, Forbes and scads more, this story has not yet been reported by the Drudge Report, ABC News, Fox News, TownHall, BigGovernment or the Washington Times "news" sites.

CBS News reported the arrest of the twelve Halliburton employees on Dec. 1 but has apparently dropped coverage of the story since Cheney was implicated.

 

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(OpEdNews Contributing Editor since October 2006) Inner city schoolteacher from New York, mostly covering media manipulation. I put election/finance reform ahead of all issues but also advocate for fiscal conservatism, ethics in journalism and (more...)
 

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