Thursday, August 28, 2003

halliburton's No Bid Contracts

Halliburton's Deals Greater Than Thought
By Michael Dobbs
Washington Post

Thursday 28 August 2003

Halliburton, the company formerly headed by Vice President Cheney, has won contracts worth more than $1.7 billion under Operation Iraqi Freedom and stands to make hundreds of millions more dollars under a no-bid contract awarded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to newly available documents.

The size and scope of the government contracts awarded to Halliburton in connection with the war in Iraq are significantly greater than was previously disclosed and demonstrate the U.S. military's increasing reliance on for-profit corporations to run its logistical operations. Independent experts estimate that as much as one-third of the monthly $3.9 billion cost of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is going to independent contractors.

Services performed by Halliburton, through its Brown and Root subsidiary, include building and managing military bases, logistical support for the 1,200 intelligence officers hunting Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, delivering mail and producing millions of hot meals. Often dressed in Army fatigues with civilian patches on their shoulders, Halliburton employees and contract personnel have become an integral part of Army life in Iraq.

Spreadsheets drawn up by the Army Joint Munitions Command show that about $1 billion had been allocated to Brown and Root Services through mid-August for contracts associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Pentagon's name for the U.S.-led war and occupation. In addition, the company has earned about $705 million for an initial round of oil field rehabilitation work for the Army Corps of Engineers, a corps spokesman said.

Specific work orders assigned to the subsidiary under Operation Iraqi Freedom include $142 million for base camp operations in Kuwait, $170 million for logistical support for the Iraqi reconstruction effort and $28 million for the construction of prisoner of war camps, the Army spreadsheet shows. The company was also allocated $39 million for building and operating U.S. base camps in Jordan, the existence of which the Pentagon has not previously publicly acknowledged.

Over the past decade, Halliburton, a Houston-based company that made its name servicing pipelines and oil wells, has positioned itself to take advantage of an increasing trend by the federal government to contract out many support operations overseas. It has emerged as the biggest single government contractor in Iraq, followed by such companies as Bechtel, a California-based engineering firm that has won hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. Agency for International Development reconstruction contracts, and Virginia-based DynCorp, which is training the new Iraqi police force.

The government said the practice has been spurred by cutbacks in the military budget and a string of wars since the end of the Cold War that have placed enormous demand on the armed forces.

But, according to Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and other critics, the Iraq war and occupation have provided a handful of companies with good political connections, particularly Halliburton, with unprecedented money-making opportunities. "The amount of money [earned by Halliburton] is quite staggering, far more than we were originally led to believe," Waxman said. "This is clearly a trend under this administration, and it concerns me because often the privatization of government services ends up costing the taxpayers more money rather than less."

Wendy Hall, a Halliburton spokeswoman, declined to discuss the details of the company's operations in Iraq, or confirm or deny estimates of the amounts the company has earned from its contracting work on behalf of the military. In an e-mail message, however, she said that suggestions of war profiteering were "an affront to all hard-working, honorable Halliburton employees."

Hall added that military contracts were awarded "not by politicians but by government civil servants, under strict guidelines."

Daniel Carlson, a spokesman for the Army's Joint Munitions Command, said Brown and Root had won a competitive bidding process in 2001 to provide a wide range of "contingency" services to the military in the event of the deployment of U.S. troops overseas. He said the contract, known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP, was designed to free uniformed personnel for combat duties and did not preclude deals with other contractors.

Carlson said the money earmarked for Brown and Root was an estimate, and could go "up or down" depending on the work performed.

The Joint Munitions Command provided The Washington Post with an updated version of a spreadsheet the Army released to Waxman earlier this month, giving detailed estimates of money obligated to Brown and Root under Operation Iraqi Freedom. Estimates of the company's revenue from Iraq have been increasing steadily since February, when the Corps of Engineers announced the company had won a $37.5 million contract for pre-positioning fire equipment in the region.

In addition to its Iraq contracts, Brown and Root has also earned $183 million from Operation Enduring Freedom, the military name for the war on terrorism and combat operations in Afghanistan, according to the Army's numbers.

Waxman's interest in Halliburton was ignited by a routine Corps of Engineers announcement in March reporting that the company had been awarded a no-bid contract, with a $7 billion limit, for putting out fires at Iraqi oil wells. Corps spokesmen justified the lack of competition on the grounds that the operation was part of a classified war plan and the Army did not have time to secure competitive bids for the work.

The corps said the oil rehabilitation deal was an offshoot of the LOGCAP contract, a one-year agreement renewable for 10 years. Individual work orders assigned under LOGCAP do not have to be competitively bid. But Waxman and other critics maintain that the oil work has nothing to do with the logistics operation.

The practice of delegating a vast array of logistics operations to a single contractor dates to the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War and a study commissioned by Cheney, then defense secretary, on military outsourcing. The Pentagon chose Brown and Root to carry out the study and subsequently selected the company to implement its own plan. Cheney served as chief executive of Brown and Root's parent company, Halliburton, from 1995 to 2000, when he resigned to run for the vice presidency.

At the time, said P.W. Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar and author of "Corporate Warriors," it was impossible to predict how lucrative the military contracting business would become. He estimates the number of contract workers in Iraq at 20,000, or about one for every 10 soldiers. During the Gulf War, the proportion was about one in 100.

Brown and Root's revenue from Operation Iraqi Freedom is already rivaling its earnings from its contracts in the Balkans, and is a major factor in increasing the value of Halliburton shares by 50 percent over the past year, according to industry analysts. The company reported a net profit of $26 million in the second quarter of this year, in contrast to a $498 million loss in the same period last year.

Waxman aides said they have been told by the General Accounting Office that Brown and Root is likely to earn "several hundred million more dollars" from the no-bid Corps of Engineers contract to rehabilitate Iraqi oil fields. Waxman, the ranking minority member on the House Government Reform Committee, had asked the GAO to investigate the corps' decision not to bid out the contract.

After a round of unfavorable publicity, the corps explained that the sole award to Brown and Root would be replaced by a competitively bid contract. But the deadline for announcing the results of the competition has slipped from August to October, causing rival companies to complain that little work will be left for anybody else. Bechtel, one of Halliburton's main competitors, announced this month that it would not bid for the corps contract and would instead focus on securing work from the Iraqi oil ministry.

In addition to the Army contracts, Halliburton has profited from other government-related work in Iraq and the war on terrorism, and has a $300 million contract with the Navy structured along similar lines to LOGCAP.

Pentagon officials said the increasing reliance on contractors is inevitable, given the multiple demands on the military, particularly since Sept. 11, 2001. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is a champion of "outsourcing," writing in The Post in May that "more than 300,000 uniformed personnel" were doing jobs that civilians could do.

Independent experts said the trend toward outsourcing logistic operations has resulted in new problems, such as a lack of accountability and transparency on the part of private military firms and sometimes questionable billing practices.

A major problem in Iraq, Singer said, has been the phenomenon of "no-shows" caused by the inhospitable security environment, including the killing of contract workers, including a Halliburton mail delivery employee earlier this month.

"At the end of the day, neither these companies nor their employees are bound by military justice, and it is up to them whether to show up or not," Singer said. "The result is that there have been delays in setting up showers for soldiers, getting them cooked meals and so on."

A related concern is the rising cost of hiring contract workers because of skyrocketing insurance premiums. Singer estimates that premiums have increased by 300 percent to 400 percent this year, costs that are passed on to the taxpayer under the cost-plus-award fee system that is the basis for most contracts.

The LOGCAP contract awarded to Brown and Root in 2001 was the third, and potentially most lucrative, super-contract awarded by the Army. Brown and Root won the first five-year contract in 1992, but lost the second to rival DynCorp in 1997 after the GAO criticized the Army for not adequately controlling contracting costs in Bosnia.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Pope John Paul II calls War a Defeat for Humanity: Neoconsevative Iraq Just War Theories Rejected

(Note the prominace of Fr. Ratzinger in this story- he would become the next Pope.)

Pope John Paul II calls War a Defeat for Humanity: Neoconservative Iraq Just War Theories Rejected

by Mark and Louise Zwick

The most consistent and frequent promoter of peace and human rights for the last two decades has been Pope John Paul II.

From Iraqi War I to Iraqi War II, he has echoed the voice of Paul VI, crying out before the United Nations in 1965: War No More, War Never Again!

John Paul II stated before the 2003 war that this war would be a defeat for humanity which could not be morally or legally justified.

In the weeks and months before the U.S. attacked Iraq, not only the Holy Father, but also one Cardinal and Archbishop after another at the Vatican spoke out against a "preemptive" or "preventive" strike. They declared that the just war theory could not justify such a war. Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran said that such a "war of aggression" is a crime against peace. Archbishop Renato Martino, who used the same words in calling the possible military intervention a "crime against peace that cries out vengeance before God," also criticized the pressure that the most powerful nations exerted on the less powerful ones on the U.N. Security Council to support the war. The Pope spoke out almost every day against war and in support of diplomatic efforts for peace.

John Paul II sent his personal representative, Cardinal Pio Laghi, a friend of the Bush family, to remonstrate with the U.S. President before the war began. Pio Laghi said such a war would be illegal and unjust. The message was clear: God is not on your side if you invade Iraq.

After the United States began its attacks against Iraq, FOX News actually reported the immediate comments of the Holy Father, made in an address at the Vatican to members of an Italian religious television channel, Telespace: "When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is ever more urgent to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that only peace is the road to follow to construct a more just and united society," John Paul said. "Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of man."

Americans were largely unaware of the depth and importance of the opposition of Church leaders to an attack on Iraq, since for the most part the mainstream media did not carry the stories. In the same way, many Americans were unaware that Pope John Paul II spoke against the first Gulf War 56 times. Media in the United States omitted this from the commentaries on the war. Many have also been unaware of the number of Iraqis killed in that war (not to mention the war which recently "ended"). In February 2003 Business Week published an interview with Beth Osborne Daponte, a professional demographer who worked for the Census Bureau. The first Bush administration tried to fire her because her published estimates of the number of Iraqi deaths conflicted with what Dick Cheney was saying at the time. She was defended by social science professionals and was able to keep her job. Her estimates: 13,000 civilians were killed directly by American and allied forces, and about 70,000 civilians died subsequently from war-related damage to medical facilities and supplies, the electric power grid, and the water system.

In the past few years, Catholic neoconservatives have been attempting to develop a new philosophy of just war which would include preemptive strikes against other nations, what might be called a "preventive war." George Weigel has published major articles defending this position since 1995. First Things magazine published his articles and editorially agreed with this point of view. The present Bush administration has used these writings to defend the strike against Iraq. Shortly before the war began, through the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, President Bush sent Michael Novak to go to Rome to try to justify the war to the Pope and Vatican officials. Catholic News Service reported that the two-hour symposium was attended by some 150 invited guests, including lower-level Vatican officials, professors from church universities in Rome and diplomats accredited to the Vatican. Since with one voice Rome had already rejected the argument for a preventive war, Novak took the approach that a war on Iraq would not be a preventive war, but a continuation of a "just war," Iraqi War I, and actually a moral obligation. He argued that a was also a matter of self-defense, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, was an un-scrupulous character, and therefore it was only a matter of time before he took up with Al Qaida and gave them such weapons.

Novak did not succeed in convincing Church leaders-in fact, some commentators reflected that his efforts might have had the opposite effect. Novak's credibility in this argument was perhaps under-mined by his employment at the American Enterprise Institute, heavily funded by oil companies, some of whom began advertising in the Houston Chronicle for em-ployees to work in Iraq even before the war began. Administration officials denied for months that the goal of the war on Iraq was related to oil. On June 4, 2003, however, The Guardian reported the words of the U.S. deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz (one of the major architects of the war). Wolfowitz had earlier commented that the urgent reason given for the war, weapons of mass destruction, was only a "bureaucratic excuse" for war. Now, at an Asian security summit in Singapore he has declared openly that the real reason for the war was oil: "Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defense minister said: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

John Paul II has sought to distance the Catholic Church from George Bush's idea of the manifest Christian destiny of the United States, and especially to avoid the appearance of a clash of Christian civilization against Islam. Zenit reported that in his Easter Sunday message this year John Paul II "implored for the world's deliverance from the peril of the tragic clash between cultures and religions." The Pope also sent his message to terrorists: "Let there be an end to the chain of hatred and terrorism which threatens the orderly development of the human family." As he had done in his invitation to religious leaders from many faiths to Assisi at the beginning of 2002, he reached out again to leaders of other religions: "May faith and love of God make the followers of every religion courageous builders of under-standing and forgiveness, patient weavers of a fruitful inter-religious dialogue, capable of inaugurating a new era of justice and peace."

Catholic World News quoted the Latin-rite Bishop of Baghdad, Bishop Jean-Benjamin Sleimaan as saying in the Italian daily La Repubblica that the Pope's high-profile opposition to a war on Iraq has helped to avoid a sort of Manichaeism that would set up an opposition between the West and the East, in which Christianity is linked to the West and Islam to the East.

While the Iraqi War II turned out to be "short," violations of "just war" principles abounded. Bombing included such targets as an open market and a hotel where the world's journalists were staying. While most television and newspaper reports in the United States minimized coverage of deaths and injuries to the Iraqi people, reports of many civilian casualties did come out. CBS news reported on April 7 stories of civilians pouring into hospitals in Baghdad, threatening to over-whelm medical staff, and the damage inflicted by bombs which targeted homes: "The old, the young, men and women alike, no one has been spared. One hospital reported receiving 175 wounded by midday. A crater is all that remains of four families and their homes-obliterated by a massive bomb that dropped from the sky without warning in the middle afternoon." The Canadian press carried a Red Cross report of "incredible" levels of civilian casualties from Nasiriyah, of a truckload of dismembered women and children arriving at the hospital in Hilla from that village, their deaths the result of "bombs, projectiles."

As talk escalated about a U. S. attack on Iraq, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, began stating unequivocally that "The concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church." His comments had been published as early as September 2002 and were repeated several times as war seemed imminent.

Cardinal Ratzinger recommended that the three religions who share a heritage from Abraham return to the Ten Commandments to counteract the violence of terrorism and war: "The Decalogue is not the private property of Christians or Jews. It is a lofty expression of moral reason that, as such, is also found in the wisdom of other cultures. To refer again to the Decalogue might be essential precisely to restore reason."

Preparation of a new shorter, simpler version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will soon begin and, according to reports and interviews with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, it will probably include revisions to clarify the section on just war, as the official version has done against capital punishment in a civilized society. Cardinal Ratzinger will head up the Commission to write the new catechism. In an interview with Zenit on May 2, 2003, the Cardinal restated the position of the Holy Father on the Iraq war (II) and on the question of the possibility of a just war in today's world.: "There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a "just war."

In almost every one of his addresses to groups large or small and in each visit to other countries, such as his recent visit to Spain, John Paul II has cried out for peace.

At the Ash Wednesday Mass this year the Pope reemphasized the theme that peace comes with justice: "There will be no peace on earth while the oppression of peoples, injustices and economic imbalances, which still exist, endure." He insisted that changes in structures, economic and otherwise, must come from conversion of hearts: "But for the desired structural changes to take place, external initiatives and interventions are not enough; what is needed above all is a joint conversion of hearts to love."

In his Easter message the Holy Father drew attention not only to the Iraq War, but to "the forgotten wars and protracted hostilities that are causing deaths and injuries amid silence and neglect on the part of considerable sectors of public opinion." The official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano carried the Pope's Easter message of peace with a headline in very large letters, Pace (peace), taking up a quarter of a page. He has asked Catholics to pray and do penance and ask Christ for peace, a peace "founded on the solid pillars of love and justice, truth and freedom."

Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXIII, No. 4, July-August 2003.

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