Monday, July 21, 2008

Donald Rumsfield denounces Halliburton for potential war profiteering ...

... in 1966.

From Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq by T. Christian Miller

Halliburton's aversion to the government was cast aside in 1962, when the company bought out Brown and Root, a Texas engineering and construction firm with a political past. Brothers George and Herman Brown had built their company through government contracting, thanks in large part to their connections to a young Texas Democrat named Lyndon Johnson. Johnson played a critical role is shuttling legislation through the House of Representatives to guarantee Brown and Root's first big project, a dam in the Texas Hill Country. And Brown and Root's contributions played a critical role in Johnson's first big political triumph. In his tumultuous run for Senate in 1948, which resulted in a razor-edge victory, Brown and Root made sure that several grocery bags filled with thousands of dollars quietly made their way to Johnson's campaign. As Johnson rose politically, Brown and Root rose financially. The company won an impressive list of federal contracts, from military bases abroad to shipbuilding during World War II to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. By 1969 Brown and Root had become the largest contruction company in the nation, with sales of 1.6 billion.

The Vietnam War gave Brown and Root its final boost to the top. After being bought out by Halliburton, Brown and Root joined a consortium of four companies in Vietnam that built $2 billion worth of airfields, hospitals, and military bases between 1965 and 1972. By 1967 the General Accounting Office (GAO) had faulted the "Vietnam builders" for massive accounting lapses and allowing thefts of materials. Brown and Root became a target of antiwar protesters, who dubbed the company Burn and Loot. The controversy even prompted a denunciation from a young Republican congressman from Illinois, an exact echo of the remarks that Democrats would make about the same company forty years later. "Why this huge contract has not been and is not now being adquately audited is beyond me, " he said. "The potential for waste and profiteering under such a contract is substantial." The congressman's name was Donald Rumsfield.

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