Email shows Cheney 'link' to oil contract
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday June 1, 2004
The US vice-president, Dick Cheney, helped to steer through a huge
contract for the reconstruction of Iraq's oil industry on behalf
of his old firm, Halliburton, Time magazine reported yesterday. The
report, based on an internal Pentagon email, joins a steady stream
of allegations of cronyism involving Halliburton. Since the fall of
Saddam Hussein, the Houston company has won $17bn (£9bn) in contracts
to rebuild Iraq, far outstripping its competitors.
Mr Cheney, who ran Halliburton for five years before he became George
Bush's vice-president in 2000, has maintained that he severed all
links to the company when he entered public life.
However, Time said it had obtained an internal email from a Pentagon
official indicating that Mr Cheney's office had been intimately
involved in awarding a multibillion-dollar contract for the restoration
of Iraqi oil.
The email, dated March 5 last year, said that Douglas Feith, the
undersecretary of defence for policy and an avid promoter of the war,
had approved a contract with Halliburton "contingent on informing WH
[the White House] tomorrow".
The email says that Mr Feith received authorisation for the Rio
(Restore Iraqi Oil) contract from the deputy defence secretary, Paul
Wolfowitz. The email, from an unidentified official with the Army
Corps of Engineers, says: "We anticipate no issues, since action has
been coordinated with the VP's office."
No other bids were sought, and Halliburton was awarded the contract.
A spokesman for Mr Cheney's office denied any connection to the
contract. "The vice-president and his office have played no role
in government contracting since he left private business to campaign
for vice-president," in 1999, Kevin Kellems said.
But Mr Cheney has not severed his links with Halliburton. Last year,
he received $178,437 in deferred compensation from the company.
Reports suggest that the process of awarding contracts has changed
under the Bush administration. A report to the House of Representatives
committee on government reform last week noted that $107bn in contracts
had been awarded without open competition. Nearly three-quarters of
those exclusive arrangements - worth about $88bn - involved work in
Iraq, the report said. Halliburton has won a sizeable share of them.