Daily Archives: July 21, 2004

Halliburton in the Jug–Again

You know, as Island Dave says, this gets old. Another day, another charge that Halliburton broke the law while Little Dick was CEO, this time by setting up a shadow subsidiary in the Cayman Islands so it could avoid the sanctions against Iran.

WASHINGTON — A Halliburton controversy erupted Tuesday, fueled by a grand jury investigation into whether the oil services giant violated federal sanctions by operating in Iran while Vice President Dick Cheney was running the company.The investigation centers on Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., a subsidiary registered in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in Dubai that provided oil field services in Iran. The unit’s operations in Iran included Cheney’s stint as chief executive from 1995 to 2000, when he frequently urged the lifting of such sanctions.

Numerous U.S. companies operate in Iran, but under strict guidelines requiring that their subsidiaries have a foreign registry and no U.S. employees, and that they act independently of the parent company.

At issue is whether Halliburton’s subsidiary met those criteria.

The Treasury Department has been investigating the matter since 2001. But Halliburton disclosed in public financial filings this week that the department had forwarded the case to the U.S. attorney in Houston for further investigation. The company said a federal grand jury had subpoenaed documents on its Iranian operations.

The Treasury Department refers such complaints only after finding evidence of “serious and willful violations” of the sanctions law, a government official said.

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), whose office has provided information on the case to the Treasury Department, said Tuesday that Halliburton Products and Services was a sham that existed only to circumvent the sanctions.

“It’s unconscionable that an American company would skirt the law to help Iran generate revenues,” Lautenberg told reporters during a conference call arranged by the campaign of the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts.

Note that last sentence. I believe I mentioned once or twice that those of you who aren’t familiar with Kerry may not know that he’s perfectly capable of playing hardball, and the closer the election, the harder it gets. This is just a taste, a smidgen, as my mother used to say, of what’s to come.

The Bushies of course answered the charges against Cheney by insisting that the Veep had done nothing wrong and providing evidence that Halliburton met all the legal criteria.

Oops. Nooooooooo, sorry. They responded by…attacking Kerry for arranging the call.

“The Democrats have made clear that their all-purpose strategy, no matter the issue, whether it’s healthcare or John Kerry’s plans to raise taxes or John Kerry’s votes against our men and women in uniform or John Kerry’s proposals to cut the intelligence budget, will be met by one word: Halliburton,” Schmidt said. “The Kerry campaign has become increasingly flailing in their attacks as there has been increasing focus on John Kerry’s record.”

Actually, everybody’s been so busy focusing on the BA’s attempt to evade and/or subvert the Geneva Conventions with dubious legal theories, and their attempt to use the PATRIOT Act to evade and/or subvert the Constitution with even more dubious legal theories, and their attempt to sell off the govt piece-by-piece to private corporations, and their cronyism and their Orwellian lies and their mess in Iraq and…and…and…that they really haven’t had a chance to get to Kerry yet. They keep trying but every day brings yet another charge, yet another anti-democratic, anti-Constitutional law or imperial edict, yet another fresh proof that these people have no agenda, no conscience, no respect for the law, and no humility.

Lautenberg’s office distributed copies of four letters from 1997 sent from a London arm of the Iranian state oil company to Halliburton Products and Services in Dubai.The four letters, all requests for goods and services from the Halliburton subsidiary, included handwritten notations to specific individuals. Lautenberg’s staff questioned whether the individuals worked for the foreign subsidiary or for a U.S. subsidiary, in violation of the sanctions.

Halliburton confirmed the authenticity of the documents, but said that two of the individuals were British citizens who had never worked for any U.S. Halliburton subsidiary.

The other two handwritten notations did not list first names of the individuals, and Halliburton said it was unable to locate records for them.

“These documents do not suggest that any violation of the applicable regulations occurred,” Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall said in a statement.

I’m not going to bother going into the specifics here–it would bore you to tears–but suffice it to say that their ‘explanation’ is skating on a very thin legal technicality.

There came a time when we all got tired of hearing about Clinton’s escapades with Monica. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m getting awfully tired of reading and writing about Bush and Cheney’s built-in contempt for little things like the law and the concept of ‘public service’ when it doesn’t lead directly to private profit. The prospect of a second term, unbridled by the need for re-election, should be scaring the bejeezus out of us right about now.