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HALLIBURTON'S BUILT-IN GOUGE
by Jim Hightower
January 5, 2004

Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton, keeps getting stuck in its own Iraqi sand pit -- and Cheney and his sidekick George W are stuck there, too.

Halliburton, which continues to pay about $150,000 a year to its old CEO Cheney, was first in line to get multi-billion-dollar, no-bid contracts from the Bush-Cheney regime for occupying and rebuilding Iraq. But don't think that any political favoritism was involved. No, no, Bush officials say, it's just that Dick's old company was the only one in the whole wide world qualified to do the job. Imagine, the only one.

And what a job it has done! Take it's contract for providing gasoline to Iraqis. An audit shows that the Houston-based giant has already gouged us taxpayers by as much as $61 million on this no-bidder. It's been charging the Pentagon $2.64 a gallon to haul gasoline from nearby Kuwait. Well, yes, say the Bushites, that's expensive, but, hey, it's costly to deliver gas in a combat zone.

Before you swallow that, though, note that the Pentagon's own energy support center delivers gasoline from Kuwait to Iraqi pumps in exactly the same war conditions for under a buck-twenty a gallon -- less than half of Halliburton's charge. And Iraqi's own state oil company does the same job for under a dollar a gallon.

Caught in Halliburton's web of deceit, George W is now trying to get on the high road, declaring that "If there's an overcharge... we expect that money to be repaid." Repaid? What about charging his and Cheney's no-bid cronies with fraud?

But here comes the real stinker: Halliburton's contract from the Bushites actually gives the company an incentive to overcharge us taxpayers. It guarantees a profit to Halliburton of between two and seven percent of its costs -- meaning that the more cost it can put into each gallon, the more profit Halliburton gets.

It's a built-in gouge, brought to us by Bush and Cheney, who like to claim that they're running our government like a business.

"Evidence Is Cited Of Overcharging In Iraq Contract, New York Times, December 12, 2003. "High Payments To Halliburton For Fuel in Iraq," New York Times, December 10, 2003. "Bush: Halliburton Must Pay for Overcharge," Austin American-Statesman, Decmeber 14, 2003.

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