Walter Reed: Cheneyburtoned!
By: Mark W Adams

John Edwards put Dick Cheney on notice that he was on to him and his corporate cronies at Halliburton during the 2004 Vice Presidential debate.  The former Senator has been cleaning up after incompetence by these same no-bid contractors in Katrina ravaged New Orleans, now we see the disgrace of Walter Reed Hospital reflected in the revolving door of Halliburton and the Pentagon.

Here's what John Edwards said about the Vice-Decider's former company, right to Cheney's face:

EDWARDS: I mentioned Halliburton in connection with the $87 billion. This is relevant, because he was pushing for lifting sanctions when he was CEO of Halliburton.

Here's why we didn't think Halliburton should have a no-bid contract. While he was CEO of Halliburton, they paid millions of dollars in fines for providing false information on their company, just like Enron & Ken Lay. They did business with Libya and Iran, two sworn enemies of the US. They're now under investigation for having bribed foreign officials during that period of time.

Not only that, they've gotten a $7.5 billion no-bid contract in Iraq, and instead of part of their money being withheld, which is the way it's normally done, because they're under investigation, they've continued to get their money.

Source: Edwards-Cheney debate: 2004 Vice Presidential Oct 5, 2004
Cheney of course scoffed and told America to this was a smoke-screen, and that we should go to Factcheck.com to get our fact right.

There is no Factcheck.com, but checking Factcheck.org we find that although the $7.5 million in fines were paid after Cheney was CEO, and the Libya deal was before he was signed on, the rest was true.  The Iran accusation was right on the money.  Cheney did business with Iran for years, illegally.  But only now will the administration sit down and talk to them.  What horsecrap.

Cheney's Halliburton, using the same accountants as Enron, lied to the S.E.C. about it's financial condition -- cooked the books and absorbed the fine as the price of doing business, just like the $8 million they paid for over-billing last November.  They made that up ten-fold with their first no-bid deal in Iraq.  The bribery accusation involved Nigeria.  (Not to be confused with Niger, the starting point for the Valerie Plame scandal.)  To date, as nicely catalogued by Charlie Cray in the Huffington Post, that investigation is still being met with a stone wall.

Edwards was right to attack Cheney for what was done while he was with Halliburton, and in a broader sense, he was right to attack Cheneyburton as a concept, a way not just of doing business but of subverting the will and welfare of the people to the whims of corporate greed.

Despite the notoriety of Halliburton's misdeeds, they got every penny of their Iraq contract even though part of it was supposed to be withheld during the investigations.  The result was a scofflaw company that served our troops contaminated water through "incompetence and willful negligence." The real crime was that there was no reason to cut costs like most corporate raiders because the contract guaranteed a profit.  It was cost, plus 1%-3% profit precisely so this kind of thing wouldn't happen.

Water supply problems plagued another one of these no-bid multi-national government contractors in the Katrina aftermath.  IAP World Services, headed by a former Halliburton executive is the company that took over operations at Walter Reed.  Before this, they were most noted for failing to make deliveries of ice to Katrina victims. The same neglect, the same company John Edwards cleaned up after in New Orleans looks to be the source of Walter Reed's problems.

On learning this, an outraged Henry Waxman, Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is quoted by ABC News: "THEY COULDN'T DELIVER ICE...NOW THEY ARE IN CHARGE OF SUPPORT SERVICES AT WALTER REED."  Indeed, their staffing of Walter Reed has directly resulted in the "exodus of 'highly skilled and experienced personnel'," and only 50 are doing the work of 300 who used to be on the federal payroll.

DailyKOS diarist Greatbasin2 tracks the Who's Who of this Halliburton "spin off firm."
And, when one starts turning over rocks what should come into view but an A-76 military contract with IAP Worldwide Service, [IAP] which took a $120 million contract to run portions of the WRAH services for facilities management. Immediately after the awarding of the contract the facilities management staff was reduced to 50 privately employed workers. The CEO of IAP Worldwide is Al Neffgen, who previously served as COO of Government and Infrastructure for the Americas Region of Kellogg Brown and Root. The President of IAP Worldwide is Dave Swindle, formerly the vice president of Business Acquisition and National Security Programs at the Halliburton subsidiary KBR. Charles F. Dominy, IAP vice president in charge of government affairs, formerly served as as the manager of Halliburton's Government Affairs Office in Washington, D.C. [IAP]
Fledermaus' KOS diary noted that outsourcing more and more government services is standard procedure for the Bush Administration according to the Washington Business Journal:
While federal outsourcing isn't new, "the Bush administration has been more aggressive in outsourcing all nonessential services," says Ray Bjorklund, chief knowledge officer for FedSources, a McLean market research firm. "The concept is to go ahead and outsource that stuff so you can concentrate on the core mission."

The Army started a basewide review of Walter Reed in June 2000. The sweeping evaluation of more than 1,100 jobs finally narrowed its focus to an estimated 350 mostly blue-collar maintenance jobs.
Fledermaus would have been delighted to learn of the Halliburton connection.  But this simply proves my point in several previous blog entries -- this is a feature, not a bug, of the neo-conservative ideology that the best government is no government, or one so in debt it can do little else than buy and resell weapons systems and pay the interest on its debt.

An added bonus, another feature if you will, is the lack of accountability.  When things go wrong, as they are bound to do, this growth pang of the transformation of our government into nothing more than an armed guard for the interest of corporative shareholders, outsourced and incompetent to do little else -- no elected official needs take any blame.  Especially immune are members of the executive branch since budgets and oversight are the prerogative of Congress.  No kickbacks necessary since the administration official making the deal will find K-Street lobby firms waiting with open arms to further exploit their connections once they leave government service.

Smintheus' Diary goes into great detail (seriously, read it over) about the privatization phenomenon, Walter Reed and IAP, including updated information and links about the whole affair.  It's in this diary we also learn that Former Treasury Secretary John "Outsourcing is Good" Snow, and Dan Quayle are involved in the company.

(Thanks to Sally Baughn for giving me a heads up about the Halliburton connection and making me dig a little further.)


PridePress said...

Yes...But why then is he still in office?

It's almost 2 years until the Cheney Administration is to leave...Can we really wait that long? How many more wars do we have to face before someone gets the spine to FORCEFULLY and BINDINGLY challenge the Rethugs in the White House?

Seriously, at this rate I have my doubts that they will leave willingly anyway!!!

Anonymous said...

I wish I had the time you had to keep up with these things. So far, I have appreciated your awareness of the facts and your respective interpretation of those facts.

Both the affairs at Walter Reed and those at Halliburton piss me off to no end. Thank you for keeping up on those things.

Mark W Adams said...

My Pleasure Bill.