Liberty: -- News -- Report Links Iraq Deals to Bush Donations
- 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
``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
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
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
Many of the companies with large contracts have important political
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
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
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
The Center's findings are based, in part, on 73 Freedom of Information
Act requests and an analysis of a federal contractor database.
- "A little government and a little luck are necessary in life; but
only a fool trusts either of them." P.J. O'Rourke
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