A new documentary called Iraq for Sale has Haliburton under major scrutiny and it’s not hard to see why. Unable to get Republican committee chairs to call for committee hearings based upon an enormous amount of evidence for malfeasance on the part of the company, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee held hearings of their own and some of the testimony was pretty bad. The Houston Chronicle, Haliburton’s hometown newspaper, has this report on some of the allegations made there. For example, how about offering to get U.S. Defense of Freedom medals (the civilian Purple Heart) for injured workers as long as they agree not to sue:
And the Houston-based contracting giant may have tried to shield itself from lawsuits by including a clause in an application for a Defense of Freedom Medal, in which survivors would sign away their rights to sue, according to a document unveiled by the panel Monday.
You can view that document here. It’s the actual release form they wanted injured workers to sign. On page three, it states:
I agree that in consideration for the application for a Defense of Freedom Medal on my behalf that. . . I hereby release, aquit and discharge KBR, all KBR employees, the military, and any of their representatives. . . with respect to and from any and all claims and any and all causes of action, of any kind or character, whether now known or unknown, I may have against any of them which exist as of the date of this authorization. . . . This release also applies to any claims brought by any person or agency or class action under which I may have a right or benefit.
Haliburton’s response? Rather farfetched:
Asked about the clause, Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann said: “It was never KBR’s intention to utilize any such release to preclude claims by current or former employees against the company. And we have no intention of doing so in the future.”
That would be a lot more plausible if Haliburton had not, in fact, been arguing that it is immune to litigation stemming from its involvement in Iraq. The Washington Post reports:
Halliburton has sought to have the suit thrown out, arguing the company is immune from litigation related to its work in Iraq for the U.S. government. The drivers did sign liability waivers before heading to Iraq.
No, of course not. Where would you ever get the idea that Haliburton would actually use a liability waiver to preclude claims by employees injured in Iraq? Just because they’re actually doing that? Who are you going to believe, their PR staff or your lying eyes?
Watch this video of Robert Greenwald, the producer of the film, on Keith Olbermann. It includes footage of a former Haliburton employee who tried to notify the military that almost all of the water treatment plants that the company ran were providing unsafe water to our soldiers and was told by Haliburton that the military was “none of his concern.” He testified to that in front of the Senate committee.
Olbermann notes that during WW2, Harry Truman led a Senate committee investigation into war profiteering and malfeasance on the part of American companies working with the government; it’s what largely led to him being put on the ticket as FDR’s Vice President in 1944. Today, we can’t even get Republican Senate committee chairmen to hold any hearings at all despite massive evidence of fraud. Over the last few decades, Haliburton has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for a wide range of fraudulent practices in their government contracts – bid rigging, bill padding, fake expense reports, delivery of faulty equipment, kickbacks and bribes, and much more.
On top of that, they’ve registered subsidiaries overseas so they can get around American legal bans on doing business with regimes that support terrorism (they’ve sold oil equipment to both Libya and Iran, as well as Iraq during the 1990s when that was forbidden under American law, all through an offshore subsidiary). In a sane world, this company would be ineligible for any government contract, even to build a lemonade stand. In this world, they get tens of billions of dollars in no-bid government contracts while their ex-CEO sits in the White House and makes sure nothing happens to impede the flow of money. Harry Truman would call it treason.