Wednesday, February 11, 2004

This Is Cute

From the New Yorker:

Vice-President Dick Cheney "has been both an architect and a beneficiary of the increasingly close relationship between the Department of Defense and an √©lite group of private military contractors—a relationship that has allowed companies such as Halliburton to profit enormously," Jane Mayer writes in "Contract Sport," in the 79th Anniversary Issue of The New Yorker. Mayer reveals that in a top-secret document dated February 3, 2001, a high-level official of the National Security Council directed the N.S.C. staff to co√∂perate fully with Cheney's newly formed Energy Task Force as it considered the "melding" of what she calls "two seemingly unrelated areas of policy," which the document describes as a "review of operational policies toward rogue states" and "actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields." Mark Medish, a senior official at the N.S.C. under President Clinton, tells Mayer, "If this little group was discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney and laying grand, global plans." Halliburton, the energy company that Cheney was the C.E.O. of for five years, has received contracts worth some eleven billion dollars for work in Iraq, Mayer reports.


One businessman with close ties to the Bush Administration tells Mayer, "Anything that has to do with Iraq policy, Cheney's the man to see. He's running it, the way that L.B.J. ran the space program." The businessman offered an example: Jack Kemp, the former congressman and Cabinet official, had Cheney over for dinner last summer, along with two sons of the President of the United Arab Emirates. "It was just social," Kemp says. "We're old friends." Kemp says he is working on two business ventures in Iraq; General Tommy Franks will serve on the advisory board of one of them. While Tom Korologos, a Republican lobbyist who has served as a counsellor to L. Paul Bremer in Iraq, calls talk of political influence over the process "bullshit," the businessman explains the situation this way: "It's like Russia. This is how corruption is done these days. It's not about bribes. You just help your friends to get access. Cheney doesn't call the Defense Department and tell them, 'Pick Halliburton.' It's just having dinner with the right people."