Kleptocracy, Cronyism and War Profiteers – Part Six
In Part Six of “Kleptocracy, Cronyism and War Profiteers: Too Many Hands in the Cookie Jar”, we look at the public relations firms and their dual role of selling the “War on Terror” to the public while marketing military wares to the U.S. government. We investigate Halliburton’s poor performance rating from the State Department, their firing by the Army, their receipt of a $72 million bonus while being awarded another contract by the Army.
Recently I found myself playing host to a friend of a friend who was here in Dallas on business and pleasure. He’s a pleasant gentleman with a heart on fire for God and completely respectable by anyone’s measuring stick. As is the case, he’s a republican, as most Texans clearly align themselves with conservative viewpoints. Driving down the highway, he said something that bothered me: (paraphrasing here) “there were more dead in World War II than in Gulf II, and yet everyone’s freaking out!”
It has been said the second Gulf War is being fought like a video game – detached and without much cost, thanks to technology. I’m sure the thousands of husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all take solace in the Pentagon’s assessment. The more I thought about my visitor’s observation, the more I realized we have this nasty little habit of “successfully” measuring wartime conflicts by certain cookie cutter pre-defined standards.
- The number of dead in the current war should be less than the last conflict.
- A clear indication either by multiple opinions or very good public relations offensives, claiming victory.
- The amount of new technology deployed.
- The fastest time period it takes to topple the alleged enemy leadership.
A Yankee in Dallas is about as welcome as “tits on a bull” (a classic Southern slang phrase). My first job in the Metroplex eight years ago found me pegged with a co-worker who quickly informed me in his deep, soft, Texas twangy drawl, “Y’all did not win the ‘War of Northern Aggression’! You just had better P.R. people!” Looking at what I know today, I hate to admit it, but he might have been right about a lot more than he realized.
We tend to think of public relations being strictly damage control (like Gary Hart’s monkey business yacht sexual escapades during his presidential bid) or carefully crafting the perfect image (like the “ Mission Accomplished ” or the beyond shameless “ halo ” photo ops). Rarely do we stop and look at the video news releases and see these as subtle public relations strategies. What is actually the difference between public relations and propaganda in the way the government employs these firms? I honestly believe the ethical lines were blurred beginning with Gulf One, resulting in countless muslim deaths and the sale of many corporate souls for the almighty dollar.
The more we repeat the P.R firm spins (“less people died in Gulf One than in World War I or II”), the more they snicker and laugh at our stupidity for parroting such lines about. There’s a saying amongst some evangelical Christians: “the best lies are the ones with a little bit of truth in them”. Of course far fewer troops have died in this offensive, but the statement’s job is to disarm the critic. They are hoping the average person doesn’t return fire along the lines of, “yeah, but the pre-war intelligence was doctored, and therefore all the troops who unselfishly gave the ultimate sacrifice were unnecessarily sacrificed!” The worst thing that can happen to a public relations firm is to be exposed.
The public relations firms are also quietly working to shape the way Joe Q. Taxpayer views the way the “War on Terror” is being conducted in terms of cash and military hardware. In order to have war profiteers, you have to first create the urgency and circumstances for the war, then you create the perceived need for every imaginable service under the sun.
Halliburton. Blackwell. Custer Battles. These guys wouldn’t have bulging wallets if it weren’t for the genius (or psychotic) thought patterns of the P.R. firms. At this point, the game shifts the “need” desire into advertising (“we have a new product that will solve your problem, and everyone’s going to want this!”), and marketing spin (“it can do this, that, and things we haven’t even thought up yet”) with the closing (“If you’re going to protect the American people who have ultimately put their trust in you, imagine the next attack and all the casualties – and you could’ve prevented it with this product.”) and ultimately the contract. It’s how it always works.
The same guys who are selling the “War on Terror” to the American public are prostituting themselves for the war profiteers. There is no honor among thieves.
Halliburton – the biggest pig at the pork barrel trough has a 600% increase in government contracts since the “War on Terror” was launched .
In order to do justice to Halliburton, one would need to write an encyclopedia of volumes to document the extent of their thievery. There is no doubt Vice President Cheney was neck deep in the fraud . There have been three attempts by the Democrats to launch an inquiry into Halliburton , and three times the Republicans have blocked it. Why? Could it have something to do with all their voting records being exposed during an election year?
There’s absolutely no accountability with Halliburton or with Vice President Cheney in this extensive cover up. It is my belief most Americans are frustrated and realize they are being stolen from. Ouch! I’m good at leveling charges, but I’m also good at backing them up. I don’t believe in letting my mouth write a check my backside can’t cash. As a co-worker used to say to me, “Give it up! Give it up, sister!”
Thankfully, there’s extensive material out there on Halliburton. I personally like the State Department report , which sparingly uses a howitzer on KBR, classifying their work as “poor performance” in the Iraq reconstruction efforts. KBR, not to be burned at the stake, attempts to absolve itself from direct blame for various delays , while the American Embassy in Baghdad has quietly transferred work to a rival contractor named Parsons, in an endeavor to move along a total of 137 stalled projects valued at $1.1 billion.
Approximately a month after the State Department criticized the below par quality of work, the Bush White House strangely decided to award Halliburton/KBR a $72 million bonus for their work! Whoever said “crime doesn’t pay” never worked for a war profiteer. If this were a comedy routine, it might actually be funny; until that happens, file these next two stories under “from bad to worse”. The Army fired Halliburton for their huge cost overruns and questionable expenses, but then turned around and awarded them another contract a few days later!
Kellogg Brown & Root Services Inc., Arlington, Va., was awarded on July 26, 2006, a delivery order amount of $5,000,000 as part of a $54,069,740 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-award-fee contract to provide all resources and management necessary to plan for, establish, maintain, and dismantle base camp and remote site operations in support of contingency operations.
I’m guilty of having believed the Vice President when he said he had divulged himself of all his Halliburton stock, so there were no legal entanglements or hints of impropriety between him and his former employer. Incidents like this have taught me to do my homework instead of believing anyone in power. Vice President Cheney’s Halliburton stock rose in value 3281% from the time the “War on Terror” began. It really shouldn’t be a surprise considering the widely reported no-bid contracts Halliburton was granted by “insiders”. What is surprising is that in regards to Cheney’s 2005 income tax forms, it shows under “note 6” he has 50,000 unexercised stock options for Halliburton. If this were exactly legal and binding (it states those options are for charity, but the clause is not binding), you wouldn’t find Congress questioning it .
It’s hard to pick and highlight a moment for the Halliburton “This is Your Life” hall of shame – there are so many frontrunners worthy of that honor. If hard pressed, I’d have to nominate the “we’ll recommend you for the U.S. Defense of Freedom medal (a civilian Purple Heart) if you promise not to sue us (page 3, section 9). Just sign the release forms and we’ll submit your name to the Pentagon, and in six months you should hear something.” Halliburton has a gift when it comes to scandal, shame, and outright corruption – they should’ve sold lessons to Enron, Tyco, and Worldcom.