Although many acknowledge the aptitude and experience of Vice President
Dick Cheney, the left is quick to denigrate his accomplishments. The most frequently cited criticism involves his ties to the Halliburton Corporation. Cheney served as the company's Chief Executive Officer from 1995 to 2000 and many claim that he retains financial ties to the oil service company that motivate him politically.
Liberals often cite the no-bid contract the administration awarded to Halliburton for work in Iraq as an example of Cheney using his position to improve his own finances.However, this assertion does not stand-up against the facts—for Cheney did a very thorough job at disintegrating
his financial ties to Halliburton. Before Cheney became Vice President, both he and his wife signed an agreement
to donate all of the proceeds from selling stock options from Halliburton
and other companies to go to charities.
Specifically, he donated the funds to the University of Wyoming, George Washington University, and an organization that helps low-income students in Washington D.C. attend private and religious schools.In fact, deferred salary payments are the only fiscal link between Cheney and Halliburton. In 1998, Cheney decided to have half of his salary for 1999 spread-out over five years to reduce taxes.
Cheney earned the money and Halliburton set the amount of the payments before he took office. Although technically bankruptcy could cause Halliburton to not make the payments, Cheney purchased an insurance policy on the payments. The payments are totally independent of Halliburton's performance.
Thus, the deferred salary payments
do not really cause a conflict of interest as many liberals declare.
Financial ties aside, some people still might believe that Cheney would give preference to his old pals at Halliburton—
and did, through the no-bid contract. However, the Vice President
denies any connection with the contract. Besides, Halliburton was the natural choice for the job given its superior performance history. The company brought 320 wells under control in Kuwait without a lost-time accident in a significantly shorter period of time than planned. Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR)—the subsidiary
of Halliburton awarded with the contract—also successfully completed other projects for the government.
KBR produced World War II naval warships, constructed an airbase in Vietnam, built the Guantánamo prison for terrorists, and played a major role in helping the US troops stationed in the Balkans. Additionally, KBR was—according to a Halliburton press release—"the only contractor that could commence implementing the complex contingency plan on extremely
KBR's ability to implement the plan on "extremely short notice" is largely the result of a competitive contract that the company won in 2001 for the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP). LOGCAP assigned Halliburton
with the task of providing various services with concise time constraints.
It was under LOGCAP that the government asked Halliburton to develop a contingency plan to deal with oil fires in Iraq.
When it came time to implement the plan, Halliburton had a significant leg-up on the competition. Changing contractors on the outset of a war could lead to a compromise in intelligence
and a slow-down in operations. Resultantly, the military awarded a no-bid contract to Halliburton. Influence
from Cheney or the President was totally unnecessary—Halliburton was a clear choice.
Rich Lowry, editor of The National Review, draws a revealing parallel to the Clinton administration. He mentions
that the administration awarded Halliburton with a no-bid contract to continue helping support troops in the Balkans. Unlike in Iraq, however, Halliburton
did not hold the LOGCAP contract. Yet, nobody claimed that Clinton was giving unfair preference to the Halliburton Corporation.
The fact that Halliburton lost the primary contract to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure also suggests that Cheney does not give his former company preference.
The State Department awarded the 680 million dollar contract to the Bechtel Corporation out of San Francisco,
even though Halliburton allegedly
took part in the bidding process.
Clearly, the evidence does not suggest that Cheney played a role in the no-bid contract awarded to Halliburton, nor would he financially benefit from it. The Department of Defense made a justifiable decision in giving Halliburton
work in Iraq. Often in times of crisis,
cost is sacrificed for punctuality. A no-bid contract to Halliburton ensured promptness and security—not a profit for Cheney.