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Cheney and Halliburton Hold Title - Top Earners In Iraq

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Cheney and Halliburton Hold Title - Top Earners In Iraq

There has never been an investigation into Cheney's involvement in awarding Halliburton no-bid contracts making the company the number one war profiteerer in Iraq. Apparently people have forgotten about the March 5, 2003 e-mail between the Army Corps of Engineers and a Pentagon employee that stated the contract "has been coordinated w VP's office."

People also seem to have forgotten that Cheney continues to own stock in Halliburton. Stock that has risen in leaps and bounds since its former CEO moved into the White House and developed the most prolific war profiteering scheme of all time.

A study released in June 2005, originating from the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), revealed that overall, Halliburton had received roughly 52% of the $25.4 billion that has been paid out to private contractors since the war in Iraq began.

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Halliburton was the top profiteer when it came to funds belonging to the citizens of Iraq as well. A March 18, 2004 audit report by the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General, titled, "Acquisition: Contracts Awarded by the Coalition Provisional Authority by the Defense Contracting Command-Washington," determined that the CPA and its predecessor, the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, had circumvented federal contracting procedures since the early days of the occupation.

The audit found that federal procurement rules were not followed in 22 of 24 contracts awarded by the Defense Contracting Command and that defense department personnel conducted "inadequate surveillance " on more than half of the contracts; did not "perform or support price reasonableness determinations; " and allowed activity that was "out-of-scope " of the original contracts.

An analysis of the data released in August 2004, showed the CPA had awarded 85% of the contracts to US and UK firms and that Iraqi companies received a mere 2% of the contracts paid for with Iraqi funds. Halliburton received 60% of all contracts paid for with Iraqi money.

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Halliburton's contracts are "cost-plus" deals and according to Peter Singer, author of "Corporate Warrior," when the government gives out cost-plus contracts, "essentially it rewards firms when they add to costs rather than rewarding them for cost savings," he said.

Halliburton employees told Knight Ridder about a scam where the company ran up costs by having employees drive empty trucks back and forth across Iraq.

"There was one time we ran 28 trucks, one trailer had one pallet (a trailer can hold as many as 26 four-foot square pallets) and the rest of them were empty," said David Wilson, who was the convoy commander on more than 100 runs. Four other drivers who were with Wilson confirmed his account for Knight Ridder.

Halliburton's contract allows the company to pass on the cost of the truck runs and add between 1% and 3% for profit. "Trucking experts estimate that each round trip costs taxpayers thousands of dollars," according to Knight Ridder.

But if you listen to Cheney, people are just picking on Halliburton because they don't like him. Not so. I would be mad at any company that billed me for driving empty trucks across the desert, but it just so happens that Halliburton is the company at the wheel.

Other whistleblowers described how employees were instructed to abandon or torch new trucks, worth $80,000, if they got a flat tire or had some other minor problems, so that Halliburton could purchase new trucks with taxpayer dollars.

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People must have been picking on Halliburton long before Iraq because under Cheney's watch, the company was caught ripping of the government time and time again. In 1997, the GAO caught the company charging $85.98 for a sheet of plywood that only cost $14.06. In a 2000 follow-up investigation, Halliburton was caught billing tax payers for cleaning the exact same office space 4 times a day.

So what happened as a result of these expensive drawn-out investigations? In 2002 Halliburton paid a $2 million fine for defrauding the government. The investigation probably cost more than $2 mill.

In January 2004, two Halliburton employees were caught red-handed taking $6.3 million in kickbacks from a subcontractor in Iraq. The company gave the $6.3 million back, claimed it fired the employees, and went on like nothing ever happened.

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

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