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Liberty: -- News -- Report Links Iraq Deals to Bush Donations

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  • Marc Brands Liberty
    Report Links Iraq Deals to Bush Donations WASHINGTON (AP) -- Companies awarded $8 billion in contracts to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan have been major campaign
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2003
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      Report Links Iraq Deals to Bush Donations

      WASHINGTON (AP) -- Companies awarded $8 billion in contracts to
      rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan have been major campaign donors to
      President Bush, and their executives have had important political and
      military connections, according to a study released Thursday.

      The study of more than 70 U.S. companies and individual contractors
      turned up more than $500,000 in donations to the president's 2000
      campaign, more than they gave collectively to any other politician
      over the past dozen years.

      The report was released by the Center for Public Integrity, a
      Washington-based research organization that produces investigative
      articles on special interests and ethics in government. Its staff
      includes journalists and researchers.

      The Center concluded that most of the 10 largest contracts went to
      companies that employed former high-ranking government officials, or
      executives with close ties to members of Congress and even the
      agencies awarding their contracts.

      Major contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan were awarded by the Bush
      administration without competitive bids, because agencies said
      competition would have taken too much time to meet urgent needs in
      both countries.

      ``No single agency supervised the contracting process for the
      government,'' Center executive director Charles Lewis said. ``This
      situation alone shows how susceptible the contracting system is to
      waste, fraud and cronyism.''

      J. Edward Fox, an assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for
      International Development, took issue with Lewis' statement and
      aspects of the report.

      ``It would ... be incorrect to suggest that there is no overall
      oversight of this process,'' he wrote the Center. ``The USAID
      inspector general's review of all Iraq contracts which was requested
      by USAID Administrator Andrew S. Natsios on April 14th has shown that
      all Iraq contracts to date have been done in compliance'' with federal
      regulations.

      State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, defending the way
      contracts are awarded, said: ``The reason that these companies get the
      contracts has nothing to do with who may have worked there before.
      Those people in senior positions have no influence over the
      decision.''

      He added, ``Competitive procedure is very, very important to us, and
      we have done that in Iraq.''

      The top contract recipient was the Halliburton subsidiary KBR, with
      more than $2.3 billion awarded to support the U.S. military and
      restore Iraq's oil industry.

      Halliburton was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney before he
      resigned to run with Bush in 2000.

      Halliburton's top executive, Dave Lesar, said Wednesday he was
      offended by criticism of the company's Iraq work but believed it was
      ``less about Halliburton and more about external political issues.''

      ``As a company uniquely qualified to take on this difficult
      assignment, we will continue to bring all of our global resources to
      bear at this critical time in the Middle East. We have served the
      military for over 50 years and have no intention of backing down at
      this point,'' he said.

      Bechtel was second with a $1 billion capital construction contract
      involving Iraq's utilities, telecommunications, railroads, ports,
      schools, health care facilities, bridges, roads and airports.

      The company's Internet site says, ``We do engage in the political
      process, as do most companies in the United States. We have legitimate
      policy interests and positions on matters before Congress, and we
      express them in many ways, including support for elected officials who
      support those positions.

      ``We do not expect or receive political favors or government contracts
      as a result of those contributions.''

      The Center's analysis of contractor political donations showed:

      --The top 10 contractors contributed $11 million to national political
      parties, candidates and political action committees since 1990.

      --Fourteen of the companies won contracts in both Iraq and
      Afghanistan. Those companies, combined, have given more than $23
      million in political contributions since 1990.

      --Most contractors, their political action committees and their
      employees have contributed just under $49 million to national
      political campaigns and parties since that year.

      --In the same time period, contractor donations to Republican Party
      committees outpaced contributions to the Democrats, $12.7 million to
      $7.1 million.

      Many of the companies with large contracts have important political
      connections.

      Former Secretary of State George Shultz is a member of Bechtel's board
      of directors, although he has no management role, according to the
      company's Web site.

      Riley Bechtel, the chairman and chief executive officer, was named
      early this year to the President's Export Council, which advises the
      president on programs to improve U.S. trade.

      Jack Sheehan, senior vice president in Bechtel's petroleum and
      chemicals business, served on the Defense Policy Board, which advises
      the defense secretary on a variety of issues.

      Other contractors also had connections. Among those cited by the
      Center:

      David Kay, head of the Bush administration's search for weapons of
      mass destruction in Iraq, is a former vice president of Science
      Applications International Corp. He left the company in October 2002.

      Christopher ``Ryan'' Henry left the same company as a vice president
      in February 2003 to become principal deputy undersecretary of defense
      for policy.

      Scott Spangler, principal owner of Chemonics International, was a
      senior U.S. Agency for International Development official during the
      first Bush administration. The company receives 90 percent of its
      business from USAID.

      Sullivan Haave Associates Inc. was founded by Carol Haave, currently
      the deputy assistant secretary of defense for security and information
      operations.

      The Center's findings are based, in part, on 73 Freedom of Information
      Act requests and an analysis of a federal contractor database.


      -----
      Source: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Iraq-Contracts.html?pagewanted=print&position=


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