"All American corporations were
prohibited from selling equipment to Iraq.
Halliburton sidestepped these restrictions and enjoyed millions
in profit by end-running the sales through French companies.”
Posted January 11, 2004 thepeoplesvoice.org
By: Ted Lang
As if the continuing swirl of corruption surrounding Halliburton, Vice
President Dick Cheney, and a growing number of Bush administration
connections and officials weren’t enough, more and more examples of
outright executive branch malfeasance are surfacing on a daily basis.
The Halliburton fiasco first appeared as a sole source closed bid anomaly
for Bechtel, Parsons, Fluor and the like, a handful of corporations very
tightly aligned financially with the Bush administration.
These companies are all heavy donors to the Republican Party.
Cheney was Secretary of Defense under Bush I, and then became CEO of
Restrictions were placed upon equipment sales to Iraq as part of the
economic sanctions against Saddam and Iraq resulting from the first Gulf
War. All American corporations
were prohibited from selling equipment to Iraq.
Halliburton sidestepped these restrictions and enjoyed millions in
profit by end-running the sales through French companies.
This travesty has once again come up, and right on the heels of
Halliburton’s price gouging on gasoline sales to the American military
forces stationed and fighting in Iraq.
And within the context of the alleged scam, two Halliburton
executives admitted skimming millions of taxpayer dollars.
In the February 2004 issue of Government
Executive, Amelia Gruber’s article entitled, “Gunning for
Halliburton,” suggests that legal sanctions against the “embattled”
company may be premature. She
offers, “Late last year and early this year, Halliburton became the
largest federal contractor to get flogged in the public square, amid
allegations of price-gouging on contracts to import oil into Iraq.
The talk soon turned to whether the company ought to be barred from
government work. Sen. Joseph
Lieberman, D-Conn., said the potential cost overruns raised ‘serious
questions’ about whether Halliburton ‘should be considered for
suspension or debarment proceedings.’”
Citing an alternate view, Gruber quotes a former assistant counsel at the
Pentagon, a lawyer now in private practice.
She writes that the lawyer, a Sam Gdanski, states that even if the
price-gouging allegations were true, “a mere dispute over pricing”
shouldn’t preclude Halliburton from government contracting.
Clearly, these assessments were recorded prior to the information
involving the revelation of the Halliburton executive malfeasance, as well
as before the latest resurrected charges against Vice President Cheney.
After Gruber quotes Gdanski’s position that “a criminal indictment or
conviction doesn’t make suspension or debarment an automatic thing,” she
quotes an opposite view:
large contractors have escaped contracting bans despite repeated allegations
or court findings of misconduct,’ says Danielle Brian, executive director
of the Project on Government Oversight [POGO], a non-profit watchdog group.
‘Let’s get those guys first,’ she says.”
And on the heels of the continuing Transportation Security Agency debacle,
where this Bush-created agency continues to defy the will of both the
Congress and the people to allow the very necessary and immediate protection
of the flying public, the very same Project on Government Oversight
published some interesting facts almost exactly two years ago.
The occasion was The Paul Revere Forum: National Security
Whistleblowers Speak, held on February 27, 2002, in Washington, D.C.
POGO was a joint sponsor of the conference along with another public
watchdog group, the Government Accountability Project and the Patrick Henry
In a paper posted on the POGO website entitled, “Statement of Darlene
Catalan, Former U.S. Customs Special Agent,” the weakness of American
railroad security was discussed. Catalan
writes, “In 1998 I was running a railroad smuggling investigation. This
investigation was being managed under a large scale, multi-agency operation
with the Union Pacific Railroad Police, the Burlington Northern Railroad
Police, The San Bernardino Police Department, and Customs. This operation
had received OCDTF status from the U.S. Attorney's office, Los Angeles.
OCDTF- is a fancy government acronym for Organized Crime Drug Enforcement
Task Force. In this operation, we had very high-level information that tons
of narcotics were entering the U.S. via pressurized rail tanker cars. We
learned that there was a large rail yard in Guadalajara, MX that was
controlled by the Arellano-Felix Cartel, and this yard was one of the
Cartel's largest narcotics distribution points. In this yard, hundreds of
these cars are loaded with narcotics each week destined for the U.S.”
As is becoming more and more typical with the Bush administration, the more
professional and competent an agency becomes, or at least as concerns
individual government employees within these agencies, the more evidence
emerges that their dedication and competence is met head-on by obstruction
from supervisors and managers. This
smacks of the same incompetence exposed just prior to 9-11, when an FBI
field office and some of its operatives tried desperately to notify D.C.
headquarters of their discovery of illegal aliens of suspicious national
origin taking truncated flying lessons.
The FBI Director’s “golden boy” who thwarted that miraculous
investigative work and made 9-11 possible, not only received a huge bonus
from the American taxpayer, but was promoted as well!
Catalan describes her frustration: “Our information turned out to be very
accurate. In April 1998, we seized a pressurized tanker car concealing 8
thousand lbs. of marijuana & 34 kilos of cocaine. Subsequent to making
this seizure, this large, successful rail operation and the two criminal
investigations under its umbrella were immediately torpedoed by Customs
management. An attempted controlled delivery of the seized narcotics was
thwarted, my help was pulled, & my partner Ruben Sandoval and I came
under immediate pressure, retaliation, and intimidation tactics when we
refused to shut down this operation and cease to do our job.”
Catalan persisted, along with other loyal government employees.
Eventually, she relates, her career and that of those government
workers that tried to do their jobs had their careers, reputations and
personal lives ruined. She
writes, “What does this have to do with National Security?”
She explains: “These tanker cars are the perfect instruments for a
terrorist attack against the U .S. As our narcotics smuggling investigation
revealed to us, anyone with cash and phony identification can lease or
sublease these cars using a front company as the importer/exporter of
record. We were shocked as to just how easy it was for the narco-traffickers
to do this. Knowing the relationship that the terrorists have with the narco-smuggling
cartels, it is not a quantum leap to think that terrorists could easily copy
the same modus operandi used by the narco-traffickers. The terrorists would
simply lease/sublease a tanker car and pay cash to set up an account with
any of the major railroads. The railroad and Customs brokers aren't trained
-AT 'ALL - to look for any type of terrorist profiles. This is a customer
service industry, pure and simple. The railroad employees taking these
orders for accounts make minimum wage, and they are simply ‘customer
service reps.’ The Customs brokers aren't much different. They are
required to check almost nothing, have no training in this arena, and have
no requirements to fully identify any of their customers.”
She details why these tank cars are dangerous: “Now, for those of you that
have the press packets, take a good look at the photo of the tanker car
indicated on the cover. What do you have when you fill one of these cars up
with 10 thousand lbs of ammonium nitrate, 100 lbs of C-4, a shape charge,
and place this container under pressure? The world’s largest pipe bomb.”
Another paper, posted on the website of the Government Accountability
Project, one of the watchdog organizations involved with Catalan’s forum,
tells the tale of yet another U.S.Customs agent, Diane Kleiman.
“In 1999, Diane Kleiman was a Special Agent with U.S. Customs
assigned to JFK International Airport. While investigating a drug smuggling
case she observed and reported serious security breaches by airlines
employees. Her supervisors feared the information, [that] if it got out,
[it] would embarrass the Agency. They ordered Kleiman not to speak to anyone
about what she knew, and even to lie to the grand jury considering
indictments in her investigation.”
“In February 1999 Kleiman was assigned to an investigation of smuggling
involving airlines employees,” the article continues.
“She was referred to a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent in
Florida who informed her that he had made numerous drug arrests in Florida
over a two year period for smuggling with the aid of American Airlines
employees. The DEA agent informed her that couriers would travel within a
row or two of an American Airlines employee, usually baggage handlers.
Airline employees can travel for free when seats are available, so an
airline employee who frequently traveled would not raise any suspicions. The
airline employee would choose flights at obscure times whereby the planes
would usually dock at more remote gates with less security. Upon arrival at
the gate, the employee would escort the courier beyond the gate, bypassing
Customs thus allowing the drugs to enter the country. The DEA agent also
informed her of another way that drugs were smuggled into the country,
whereby after the passengers disembarked from the aircraft, the baggage
handlers would remove the drugs from areas of the plane where they are
secreted by airline employees prior to the plane leaving from its place
Kleiman relates the specifics in terms of an arrest she made, and the
unbelievable lessons she learned relative to the extremely lax airport
security procedures within the airport operations themselves, not the
passenger processing areas where TSA harassment is so notorious.
The article continues, “Six months prior to the attacks on
September 11th, Kleiman had warned the US Attorney's office that a tragedy
would occur because of the lack of security at American Airlines. She told
them that if the employees had such easy access to the planes, they could
place bombs and weapons on the planes. She further informed them that
American Airlines was not doing background checks on its employees, and
[that] many were illegal aliens. Those employees were given ramp passes
[allowing] them access to the ramps from public streets. With this access,
employees could do surveillance observing the schedules of when planes
landed and departed, and observing the security in the airport. The US
Attorney's Office dismissed her by saying they would look into it and never
got back to her. Customs fired Kleiman for raising these issues.”
In another article posted on Government
Executive’s website on August 29, 2002 entitled, “Technology firms
await homeland security spending boom, writer Shane Harris states, “Angela
Styles, head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of
Management and Budget, has railed against the improper use of
government-wide technology contracts, popular deals that are pre-awarded to
companies and then opened up for all agencies to use.
Styles says that contracting officers need to relearn the
‘acquisition basics’ after reports by some agency inspectors general
found that acquisition personnel often don’t conduct full competitions on
Most notable in this regard are recent revelations from the continuing
inspector generals’ investigations involving misappropriation of
technology acquisition funds at the General Services Administration, or GSA.
GSA is supposedly the government’s top-notch procurement agency,
whose primary function is arranging cost saving procurement contracts
throughout the federal government. To
date, $40 million has been misappropriated.
In an article posted September 3, 2002, GovExec.com
in an article entitled,
“Business band to launch homeland security association,” written by Bara
Vaida and originally appearing in National
Journal’s Technology Daily
offers, “The homeland security arena has grown to the point that dozens of
businesses will launch the Homeland Security Industries Association on
Wednesday. Two executives from
security firms – Bruce deGrazia, vice president of Springfield, Va.-based
Versar, and Joseph D’Agostino, executive vice president of Haynes Security
in Newark, N.J. – have spearheaded creation of the group.
Its mission is to provide a mechanism for the government to
coordinate with the private sector on homeland security issues, including
uses of information technology for homeland security.”
The September 2002 article innocently promotes this beneficial partnership
between government and the private sector, and beams, “On Wednesday, seven
companies will present position papers on port security, airport
security, information technology security, physical infrastructure
protection, information-sharing technology, best business practices, and
bioagent, radiological and nuclear security.” [Emphasis added]
Later, the article offers, “For example, Haynes Security is well
known in the New York metropolitan area…” Last week, CBS News’ Randall
Pinkston did a story on Haynes Security.
New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced that a
corruption investigation resulted in an indictment being handed up to Mercer
County Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg, the Assignment Judge of the
State Grand Jury, on February 2nd.
Haynes Security is charged with bribing contracting officials of the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Continental Airlines, and Public
Service Electric and Gas. [Emphasis added]
Additionally, Haynes was charged with employing as security guards
individuals with criminal records, and doing so by failing to forward
background reports and fingerprints to the New Jersey State Police as
required by a state law. It is
noteworthy that this indictment was as a result of a state investigation,
and not one initiated by the federal government itself.
It is becoming increasingly apparent, that whether an unjust war initiated
against a defenseless Third World dictatorship, or a small conglomerate of
rich corporations noted for their donations to the Republican Party, only
the very rich and their rich corporations become important considerations
for this administration. Reconstruction
profiteers, airlines, oil companies and homeland security private sector
partners, are the only ones deriving benefit from both 9-11 and the Iraqi
invasion, as well as Israel. And
all have been financed by our hard-earned tax dollars.
THEODORE E. LANG 2/09/04 All rights reserved. Ted Lang is a political
analyst and a freelance writer.