21 March 2003

Firm linked to Cheney may net Iraq deals

21 March 2003
The Times of India

Firm linked to Cheney may net Iraq deals


NEW DELHI: US ambassador Robert Blackwill may have dangled the carrot of Indian companies taking part in the "reconstruction" of Iraq after the war is over, but the Bush administration has already made it clear that the lion’s share will go to US companies.

Among a select set of US corporates invited to submit hush-hush bids for $900 million worth of reconstruction contracts are Kellog Brown and Root, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Halliburton Co, and the San Francisco-based Bechtel Group Inc Halliburton, a company with extensive interests in civilian construction and oil equipment, was headed by Dick Cheney till 2000, when he sold his stock and quit to run for vice-president as George W Bush’s partner.

Bechtel has also had close associations with power, having employed former secretary of state George Schulz, former defence secretary Caspar Weinberger and former CIA chief William Casey.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week about the existence of a secret 13-page document put out by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) titled "Vision for Post-Conflict Iraq".

USAID sent a detailed "request for proposals" to five top US construction firms. The other three are Fluor Corp and Parsons Corp of California, and the Louis Berger group of New Jersey.

The contract is for repairing and rebuilding roads, water systems, bridges, schools and hospitals and is likely to be a very small part of a much more substantial pork barrel.

"The maximum value of just the initial contract would be more than double what the US is spending in 2002-4 to rebuild Afghanistan," the Wall street Journal reported.

What is in the pipeline is "the largest government reconstruction effort since Americans helped to rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II".

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