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Defending Halliburton

Following up on this post, there’s more debunking of the Halliburton overcharge myth, this time in the New York Times.

The rebuilding of Iraq’s oil industry has been characterized in the months since by increasing costs and scant public explanation. An examination of what has grown into a multibillion-dollar contract to restore Iraq’s oil infrastructure shows no evidence of profiteering by Halliburton, the Houston-based oil services company, but it does demonstrate a struggle between price controls and the uncertainties of war, with price controls frequently losing. ...

So far this year, Halliburton’s profits from Iraq have been minimal. The company’s latest report to the Securities and Exchange Commission shows $1.3 billion in revenues from work in Iraq and $46 million in pretax profits for the first nine months of 2003. But its profit may grow once the Pentagon completes a formal evaluation of the work. If the government is satisfied, Halliburton is entitled to a performance fee of up to 5 percent of the contract’s entire value, which could mean additional payments of $100 million or more. ...

The contract to fix Iraq’s oil industry was granted to KBR by a secret Bush administration task force formed in September 2002 to plan for Iraq’s oil industry in the event of war. The task force, led by an aide to Douglas J. Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy, quickly concluded that the government alone could not meet the oil needs, members of the group said. “There were only a handful of companies, and KBR was always one of those mentioned,” said one Pentagon official.

Almost immediately, an alarm went off among members of the group. “I immediately understood there would be an issue raised about the vice president’s former relationship with KBR,” the official said, “so we took it up to the highest levels of the administration, and the answer we got was, `Do what was best for the mission and we’ll worry about the political’ “ fallout. [Emphasis added]

So much for the giant corporate oil conspiracy.

Posted by Lee on 12/30/03 at 11:30 AM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil • Permalink

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