View Single Post
Aug18-05, 09:49 AM
P: 12
White House Disclosures Lead to 'Hal'

While the months pass for US troops occupying Iraq, the financial value and taxpayer-funded cost of Halliburton's extensive Iraq contracts increase.

Halliburton, a huge global conglomerate in the oil field business, landed a non-competitive-bid contract for work in Iraq that now looks almost open-ended. The cost, recently reported by the New York Times at over $2 billion, has led to inquiries being sent to the Office of Management and Budget by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and John D. Dingell (D-Mich.).

Among other issues, Vice President Richard Cheney was head of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000 and may receive deferred compensation and other benefits (not yet calculated) from Halliburton for a period of five years, according to his 2001 financial disclosure statement. Cheney's "golden handshake," however, is not the administration's only link to Halliburton. The company's chief shareholders, whose top management can be predicted to benefit financially from war in Iraq, also have administration ties.

David Letterman-style, the Top Ten shareholders for Halliburton Company, Inc., are as follows: (see

#10: The Vanguard Group, with 7.6 million shares of Halliburton stock, worth about $176 million. Vanguard, also 10th largest mutual-fund shareholder in Halliburton, is a huge owner in ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. It moved onto this list recently when Dallas-based Maverick Capital, privately owned by the Wylie family, moved off. Vice President Cheney's disclosure statement (above) shows millions of his retirement money invested through Vanguard.

Vice presidential candidates have traditionally been chosen for the political advantage of a background, region, age, etc., different from that of the presidential candidate. The American system of orderly transmission of power indulges this political expediency partly because it helps prevent the formation of a behind-the-scenes cabal. Good idea.

This list footnotes some of the recent public discussion about Halliburton. On Meet the Press Sept. 14, Cheney disavowed any present connection to Halliburton: "And since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now for over three years." The statement was subsequently reinforced by spokespersons for both Cheney and Halliburton, who pointed out that Cheney's contract protects his benefits even if the company loses money.

The disclosure form paints a somewhat more nuanced picture. The Vanguard Group holdings are easily among Cheney's largest holdings. Assets are given in ranges (from $100,000 to $1M; from $1M to $5M; etc). Cheney's statement includes two holdings in the $500,000-$1M range; two holdings in the $1M-$5M range; and three holdings in the $5M-$25M range. Thus Cheney's assets invested with Vanguard Group total $18M to $87M. Given the size of Vanguard's stake in Halliburton, it is hard to imagine a mathematical possibility that Cheney's assets are unconnected to Halliburton's fortunes.

Probable return on assets is obviously hard to quantify. Some estimate can be provided by George W. Bush's own financial disclosure statement (see Bush had relatively piddling assets of $68,766 invested in Vanguard in 2001, on which he declared a quite respectable capital gain of $4,735, or about 6%.
halliburton stock holding