[Mb-civic] Halliburton strikes again - Derrick Z. Jackson - Boston Globe Op-Ed
swiggard at comcast.net
Wed Mar 1 05:15:40 PST 2006
Halliburton strikes again
By Derrick Z. Jackson | March 1, 2006 | The Boston Globe
HALLIBURTON'S LATEST outrageous withdrawal from its ATM (American
Taxpayer Machine) cries out for the Great Communicator. Back in 1976
when Ronald Reagan first ran for president, he stoked the anger of
largely white audiences with brutal exaggerations of the undeserving
black and brown poor.
He talked of a ''welfare queen" in Chicago who collected $150,000 under
80 different names. It turned out that she collected only $8,000 under
four names. In a Florida campaign stop, Reagan bemoaned how hardworking
people wait in line at grocery stores while a ''strapping black buck"
purchased T-bone steaks with food stamps. It was code language in
Florida, where Reagan's Republican state campaign manager told The New
York Times, ''We are wasting our time to get black people registered."
Reagan said of a housing development in East Harlem, ''If you are a slum
dweller, you can get an apartment with 11-foot ceilings, with a 20-foot
balcony, a swimming pool and gymnasium, laundry room and play room, and
the rent begins at $113.20 and that includes utilities." Less than
one-sixth of the 656 units had a kitchen or living room with a high
ceiling, the rent would have been four times more, and the pool and gym
were a community center for 200,000 area residents, mostly Latino and
Reagan won the presidency in 1980 partially on that attack on the poor.
His lasting imagery led to sweeping cutbacks in welfare under President
Clinton, a Democrat, and in the current budget cuts to the poor by
Republican President Bush. But Halliburton, one of our greatest cheats
of the last quarter-century, continues to skip to the head of the
grocery line for tax bones as the poor continue to be axed to bare bones.
Even though an Army audit determined that $263 million of charges by
Halliburton were exaggerated or unjustified on its $2.41 billion no-bid
contract for fuel deliveries and oil equipment repair in Iraq, the Army
said it will pay all but $10.1 million of it. The Times reported Monday
that the decision to withhold only 3.8 percent of the charges in
question is far below the average of questionable charges that are
withheld. That average has ranged between 56.4 percent and 75.2 percent
over the last three years.
Audits and averages rarely matter with Halliburton. While Reagan
galvanized the middle class against laundry rooms for the poor,
Halliburton is the company whose subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root,
charged you and me $100 for a bag of laundry and $45 for a case of soda
During Reagan's tenure, Halliburton and KBR agreed to pay $750 million
to settle a lawsuit over letting costs of a nuclear power plant in Texas
skyrocket five times to $5.5 billion. Halliburton exported oil-field
equipment to Libya despite a US trade ban. It ended up paying $3.8
million in fines. The government said some of the equipment Halliburton
shipped could have been for nuclear weapons.
It is the company that had to pay $7.5 million in fines to settle with
the Securities and Exchange Commission over accounting practices in the
late 1990s that boosted its bottom line. Vice President Dick Cheney was
Halliburton's CEO at the time but was not charged with any wrongdoing.
It is the company that had to pay back the government on separate
occasions $6.3 million, $11.4 million, and $16 million for kickbacks and
overcharges on fuel deliveries and meals for troops in Kuwait and Iraq.
Halliburton has admitted to $2.4 million in bribes to the Nigerian
government in exchange for favorable tax treatment. None of this matters
with a company that spent $1.4 million over the last decade, according
to the Center for Responsive Politics, to get friendly key Republicans
into office and has its former CEO as vice president. The reason the
Army capitulated on its own audit is that everyone knows -- without
anyone having to say it -- the cost of criticizing Cheney's former company.
Bunnatine Greenhouse, the Army Corps' top contracting officer, was
demoted last year after saying the no-bid, multi-billion-dollar
contracts to Halliburton represented ''the most blatant and improper
contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional
It is no small accident that Greenhouse happens to be a black woman. A
quarter-century of presidents and the media made black women the face of
welfare queens. When a black woman blew the whistle on some of the worst
of our white welfare kings, it was still the black woman who was treated
like a fraud.
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