March 21st, 2006

House Republicans Offer Stirring Defense… Of Halliburton

Never let it be said the Republican Party doesn’t take care of it’s own. While researching something the other day, I stumbled across an amendment to H.R. 4939 (an emergency appropriations bill) by Henry Waxman (D-CA). The amendment, H.AMDT.746 (A046), tried to insert the following bit of legislation into the bill:

None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act shall be obligated or expended by the Secretary of the Army or his designee to award a contract to any contractor if the Defense Contract Audit Agency has determined that more than $100,000,000 of the contractor’s costs for contracts involving work in Iraq under one or more Army contracts were unreasonable.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the amendment was targeting Halliburton. After all, how many companies do you know of that have ripped the American public off for more than $100,000,000.00 according to Defense Department audits? The Amendment was geared towards preventing them from war time profiteering on FURTURE contracts, not current ones. It was written not to interfere with operations already in place.

To me it seemed reasonable. Why should you and I (or actually the Chinese) continue to bankroll someone whose screwing us? We aren’t insane are we? It should be an easy thing to rally behind - especialy for those fiscally conservative Republicans who got apoplectic at government waste.

Ha. As we have learned over and over, when it comes to cronyism vs. conservatism these guys pick their puppet masters, err I mean concerned friends in industry every time (unless you’re from Dubai, of course). The Republican’s rushed to defend Halliburton. Just reading the stirring things written about the company almost make me misty eyed. Listen to what Rep Duncan Hunter - Chairman of the Armed Services Committee had to say:

The papers are awash with Halliburton and have been for several years. Halliburton employs lots of Americans. And I do not have the exact number of KIA, but they, like our soldiers in the field, the people that drive those trucks and work those logistics to support our Marines out in the western area of operations out in Fallujah and our Army personnel out in Mosul and Tikrit and other remote parts of Iraq, those people risk their lives every day.

I will say to the gentleman, as I recall, over 20 of them have been killed in action, people like the Halliburton drivers. People have been captured by the enemy and some of them held hostage, unable to escape. Most of the people, the vast majority of the people that work for this contractor, like lots of contractors that support our American military overseas, are good, hardworking people. And if you look, if you go up and eat with the Stryker brigades up in Mosul, or the 101st in Tikrit or the Marines in Fallujah, and you go into their mess halls and you look at the operation and you see the fuel that is delivered, you see the ammunition that is delivered, you see the treatment, the quality of life for our military people, you will understand then that is primarily a result of American corporations which support the war effort. And that is a fact of life.

Now, the idea that prices have been unreasonable and that there are contracts where they have abused the American taxpayer or abused the contract process, let us take that under the regular order. And if that is true, let’s hold people accountable. Let’s hold the corporation accountable. But the idea that we single out a group of people which is thousands and thousands of Americans who support our fighting personnel and basically paralyze that operation is unreasonable

Fine speech if you ask me. It follows the basic theme of all Republican debate these days - fear, fear, patriotism patriotism, fear, fear, fear. You’d think he was talkign about the poor men and women who enlist and get paid peanuts fighting in this stupid war instead of a company that has stolen money from the American people.

Lest you think Mr. Hunter was done, you would be mistaken. He took the floor again to defend his pals at Halliburton:

Let me just say to my colleagues here who have stated that we should hold up our contracts and not give new contracts until past contracts are found to be reasonable versus unreasonable, Members have stood on this floor and have called every weapons system since the first Persian tank unreasonable in cost. The B-2 has been called unreasonable. Every ship in the navy has been called unreasonable in the cost. Every fighter aircraft has been called unreasonable in the cost.

The idea that you are not going to have any action on these contracts unless you have a congressional hearing is not true. There is no committee here that has the ability to enforce or not enforce a contract. You have dozens, in fact hundreds, of government lawyers who have every opportunity, indeed have the charge, of going through complex contracts, and where they find that the contract was violated by the contractor, and there are lots of contractors around who are bankrupt to attest to this, that that contract is then acted upon, damages are extracted; and all these are things that we have put in our system of laws.

Now, the idea that you are going to take a major part of the support of an ongoing shooting war and you are going to paralyze it and say, well, it is only for present contracts, the next one that comes up next month, that is going to be different, but you are going to allow present contracts to continue. That could mean that you have got a hiatus in capability, a hiatus in the expertise of these people who have gone out, wearing the uniform of American contractors, put themselves in harm’s way and, over the last several years in this war, developed a real expertise.

So I know the gentleman’s amendment may play well politically in some quarters, but I think it is bad for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States because the contractors we are talking about are the people supporting them right now in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fear, fear, fear. Notice the little part about no committee in Congress has the ability to enforce or not enforce contracts. Funny, but two weeks ago when they were “protecting American ports” from evil Muslim’s they sure thought they could interfere with contracts. Interesting. Even worse is his insistence that Halliburton would cease honoring their current contracts because we don’t want to keep awarding them new ones unless they can pass an audit. Fear, fear, fear.

Think about what an extra 100,000,000.00 dollars would have done for our military? Think about the body armor, the armor plating for the vehicles, and medical care for veterans that 100,000,000.00 would have purchased. Think about Rep. Duncan Hunter’s shameful defense of Halliburton instead of defending the troops or the taxpayers. Which party cares about law and order? Which party cares about security? Fiscal responsibility? When you think about how Rep. Hunter defended corporate interests instead of the publics, you have your answer.

Oh and for the record, the amendment was defeated. Go G.O.P.

politics, Iraq, Duncan Hunter, Henry Waxman, Halliburton, fraud, waste

Tags: politics, Iraq, Duncan Hunter, Henry Waxman, Halliburton, fraud, waste

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Posted in Politics, Military, Budget



4 Comment(s)

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  1. LiberPaul Says :

    No shame! If you’re a Republican, what did you vote for again? If it was hypocrisy, waste and cronyism, you got what you wanted…..


  2. PA_Lady Says :

    What the Republicans also didn’t mention is that the ’services’ provided by Halliburton and its subsidiaries used to be provided by actual military units, and at a far lower cost.

    These days, Beetle Bailey is the only American soldier on KP duty.


  3. Stupid Git Says :

    Excellent digging.


  4. TC Says :

    GOOD STUFF HERE!

    “Think about what an extra 100,000,000.00 dollars would have done for our military? Think about the body armor, the armor plating for the vehicles, and medical care for veterans that 100,000,000.00 would have purchased.”

    Good point, but I’d take it a step further. The U.S. military’s new “Interceptor” body armor costs about $1,500 per vest (MSNBC link below). Divide $100,000,000 by $1,500 and you get about 67,000, roughly half the number of U.S. troops in Iraq. So let’s cut to the chase and trumpet this: “GOP politicians would rather reward Cheney’s cronies at Halliburton than fit 67,000 of our troops with state-of-the-art body armor. They truly know no higher allegiance than to their Republican corporate campaign contributors.”
    http://msnbc.com/news/1000971.asp?cp1=1



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