Cutting off Halliburton

In late 2001, Jordan Green of the Institute for Southern Studies broke the story about Halliburton (link is to Feb. 2002 version), the energy services company with deep ties to the Republican Party which had just landed a lucrative Army contract in the just-emerging "war on terror." (A New York Times reporter later told me in person that we were "way ahead of the pack" on the story.)

The 10-year (renewable), no-bid, no-cap contract -- largely ignored by the major media at the time -- put Halliburton in charge "logistical support" for extended troop operations, a forshadowing of the expansionist foreign policy the Bush Administration and neo-con apparatus would pursue for the next four years.

It took a while, but eventually the media caught on to the scope of the contract and the company's increasingly scandalous conduct, including cost-overruns, over-billing, fraud, and other gross mismanagement of billions of taxpayer money.

This week, the Army announced it was terminating Halliburton's logistical support contract -- a decision arrived at less from concern over Halliburton's ongoing scandals, and more as a marker of the U.S.'s unannounced retreat from Iraq (making the country less of the profit bonanza for corporate players):

The Army is discontinuing a controversial multibillion-dollar deal with oil
services giant Halliburton Co. to provide logistical support to U.S. troops
worldwide, a decision that could cut deeply into the firm's dominance of
government contracting in Iraq. [...]

Under the deal, Halliburton had exclusive rights to provide the
military with a wide range of work that included keeping soldiers around the
world fed, sheltered and in communication with friends and family back home.
Government audits turned up more than $1 billion in questionable costs.
Whistle-blowers told how the company charged $45 per case of soda, double-billed
on meals and allowed troops to bathe in contaminated water. [...]

The decision on Halliburton comes as the U.S. contribution to Iraq's
reconstruction begins to wane, reducing opportunities for U.S. companies after
nearly four years of massive payouts to the private sector.

Apparently our mission of helping Iraq towards "freedom and democracy" becomes a lot less attractive when the money isn't good.