Press**Watch: Halliburton strikes again
Since this show aired, the news came in that Halliburton was responsible for the failed undersea equipment that allowed the oil rig fire in the Gulf of Mexico last week to become the great environmental disaster of 2010. Here are some of the notes I used for the interview:
Halliburton's Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War (Paperback) ~ Pratap Chatterjee Pratap Chatterjee (Author) Nation Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (March 23, 2010)
(Wiki) Pratap Chatterjee (b. Birmingham, United Kingdom) is an Indian/Sri Lankan investigative journalist and progressive author. He is a British citizen and was raised in India, although he has lived in California for many years. He served as the executive director of CorpWatch, an Oakland-based corporate accountability organization from 2003 to 2008. He is also a producer and radio host at KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California.
Chatterjee has also served as a community advisor to KQED, the San Francisco public radio and television station. He was a member of the board of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network from 2001 to 2005, and was an Environmental Commissioner for the city of Berkeley from 1998 to 2003. He helped start a new project called Crocodyl, which aims to research corporations using wiki technology and global South/North collaboration.
In the news:
Lagos — Former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet has dismissed as cocktail of lies a media report that he was named alongside the former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar and Nasir Ado Bayero in the Halliburton bribery scandal.
He said the report carried in a national daily (not Daily Champion) was merely out to tarnish his image. He spoke in a chat with newsmen in Lagos.
The report had claimed that the preliminary report of Mike Okiro committee which investigated the matter indicted the former minister, Abdulsalami and Bayero for collecting $50 million as bribe from Halliburton. It stated that Etiebet was a minister in the administration of Abdulsalami when the scam took place.
Okiro committee was set up by President Umaru Yar'Adua to investigate Nigerians who benefitted in the $180 million bribery scandal by Halliburton.
....(Does Halliburton use bribery for access/favors?).......................................................................
What happens to Halliburton's profits once they get their checks in from the taxpayers? Is it designated entirely for homes for old soldiers? Do they create foundations to improve cities and rural areas? Or do they pay exorbitant salaries, stock options, Board of Director fees, and squirrel the rest away from the IRS in Cayman Island accounts?
What is halliburton's relation to the Executive Branch now, and to Congress?
Ralph Shaw (snippet)
It is no secret that George W Bush’s presidential campaign was heavily financed by the US oil industry. Centre for Responsive Politics — a non-profit organisation — estimates that oil and gas firms with donations totalling around $ 1.89 million were among the top 10 contributors. The presidential inaugural committee received another million from the same group and the contributions by individuals connected with the oil industry, though comparatively less in amount, were in addition. In fact, Mr Bush’s indebtedness to this special interest group went way back to his gubernatorial campaigns. He received more than $ 0.5 million for each of his 1994 and 1998 campaigns for governor of Texas.
Bush was not the only member of his administration who had strong ties to the oil and gas companies. Vice President Dick Cheney amassed tens of millions of dollars as head of Halliburton Oil Company. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans was head of Tom Brown Incorporated and held up to $ 25 million in the oil exploration company. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice was one of the directors at Chevron. There is something mystifying in the prescient announcement by BBC News on January 29, 2001 that said, “The concentration of energy connections is so pronounced that some critics are calling the Bush government ‘the oil and gas administration’.” It went on to state that there were concerns that the private financial interests of the cabinet members could influence future US energy policy decisions and that exactly is what seems to have transpired.
The argument that military action against Iraq was motivated by a desire to assure continued cheap supply of oil to the US is rather flimsy. Having been defanged by military and economic sanctions after the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was in no position to influence either the supply or the price of oil in any significant manner. UN sanctions limited the amount of oil Iraq could sell and part of the $ 16 billion generated from oil sales went to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia by way of war reparations for the first Gulf War. Such straitened circumstances left little room for adventurism on the part of the Iraqi dictator. With the US already monitoring much of the Iraqi air space, Saddam knew that disrupting oil supplies or adopting a belligerent policy toward his neighbours would lead to swift retribution. If the invasion did happen in the interest of the US economy, as some claim, it was a colossal failure. Oil prices rose for several years after the war. Just before the start of hostilities on March 20, 2003, oil was trading at a little more than $ 30 a barrel. In the next three years the price doubled.
The real reason the US invaded Iraq was that Mr Bush’s clients — the oil companies — wanted a piece of the Iraqi crude oil business. With Saddam in power and Iraqi oil nationalised, the US and British oil companies had little hope of becoming part of the lucrative Iraqi crude oil production business. British and US companies had been specifically shut out by Saddam Hussein from oil production contracts. Out of the 60 companies negotiating oil contracts with Iraq, none were British or US. Chinese, Russian and French companies were negotiating the largest contracts. However, the contracts could take effect only if the UN sanctions were removed. Had that happened, the French and others would have benefited enormously to the detriment of the British and the American
What is Halliburton's history in terms of dealing with whistle-blowers?
by Megan Carpentier
In 2005, while working for KBR in Iraq, Jamie Leigh Jones was drugged and brutally sexually assaulted by a co-worker, Charles Boartz. After she reported the rape and underwent a forensic rape examination, she was escorted to a shipping container outfitted as a room, where guards were posted outside her door and she was prohibited from making phone calls. More than a day into her forced isolation, she convinced a guard to loan her a telephone to call her father in Texas. Her father called their congressman, Ted Poe, who called the State Department who had to send embassy officials to her shipping container to procure her release.
After she was released, her rape kit, which the Army hospital had turned over to KBR and KBR had turned over to the State Department, disappeared. The Pentagon wouldn’t investigate.
The Justice Department isn’t talking to anyone, including Congress, about the case. When Jamie sought civil remedies, KBR told her that her rape, and KBR's part in it, were part of the conditions of her employment contract and thus any complaints would be subject to mandatory arbitration -- and they’d be picking the arbitrator. After 15 months in arbitration, she and her lawyers went to court -- in a move fought by KBR -- to force the court to determine that rape was not a condition of her employment contract and thus her suit wasn’t covered by the arbitration agreement. The federal courts agreed last year but it wasn’t until two weeks ago that KBR dropped its Supreme Court appeal of the issue, and then only on the basis that Senator Al Franken’s law barring U.S. contractors from forcing rape victims into arbitration might affect their ongoing contracts.
Now Jamie Leigh Jones' suit against her former employer, KBR, her rapist and her boss for negligence, sexual harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, fraud, assault and battery and intentional affliction of emotional distress can go forward. But KBR isn’t going to roll over and settle the case or admit to any wrong-doing. Instead, they’re backing Jones’ rapist, and using his defense as their own. On their site, they have a “Facts About Jamie Leigh Jones” litigation that is chock full of lies, half-truths, PR spin and rape- apologist sentiment that should make any woman think twice about working for KBR, and should make U.S. taxpayers wonder why their money continues to go to a company that sides with brutal rapists over their victims because it is more financially expedient.
EEOC Complaint “Facts”
The KBR site indicates that Jones filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sexual harassment complaint, and leaves readers with the impression that said complaint was dismissed. In fact, the letter upholding Jones’ complaint is part of her lawsuit, and reflects that the EEOC ruled in her favor.
In the complaint, Jones charged that KBR assigned her to an all-male barracks and that, within a week, several residents of that barracks drugged and sexually assaulted her. KBR’s response to her EEOC complain was:
1. There were 25 other women in the same barracks.
While this is true, it is important to note what is not said about the barracks: how many people there were in total. Barracks at Camp War Eagle, as it was known at the time, were relatively new, and all military barracks are similar in form: they look, like this barracks at a different camp, to be relatively large dorms. At Camp Cuervo in Baghdad, four such barracks would house two full battalions and a battalion typically consists of between 300 and 1,200 soldiers. So, with Jones being one of 25 women in the building, she was one of 25 women among several hundred men, in a building with small two-person rooms designed around large common areas for socializing and and shared bathrooms.
2. She said yes
Despite the extensive injuries documented as part of her rape kit, KBR’s lawyers’ response to the charge that Jones was raped was that her rapist contends that she consented. They don’t even address the fact that Jones has said she was gang-raped, referring instead to a single “alleged assailant” and they definitely don’t refer to any investigation, to the forensic rape examination or to any of the evidence that she was assaulted: they simply take one of her rapists’ word for it that the brutal assault was consensual, and use that as a legal defense against charges that their actions (or inaction) created a hostile environment.
3. It wasn’t their responsibility to investigate
KBR then alleges that, since the State Department supposedly took over the criminal investigation, they halted their investigation into Jones’ assault. They don’t allege that the State Department forced them to halt their investigation, just that they halted their investigation after being told that the State Department was investigating. But a State Department investigation, criminal or otherwise, and abortive or otherwise, did not need to halt KBR’s internal investigation into the charges that Jones made about conditions, the environment or whether Boartz acted appropriately given his position in the company.
The EEOC found in favor of Jones, and said that she had been subjected to sexual harassment.
KBR Communications Department “Facts”
Because of the media exposure received by the case, as well as government hearings into the case and legislation designed to prohibit government contractors from forcing rape victims into binding arbitration, KBR apparently felt it was time to fight back against the negative publicity that they likely deserve. But rather than describing the steps it goes through to prevent harassment in the workplace -- possibly because it doesn’t take very many and attempts to cover up cases of harassment and assault by forcing victims into arbitration -- or writing anything about how sorry they are that this happened to Jones, they decided to attack her personal integrity.
Before the Assault, according to KBR
KBR's first “fact” relates to the EEOC complaint, and Jones’ allegation, since amended in the legal complaint, that she was housed in an all-male barracks. The EEOC complaint is not the lawsuit, but that hardly stops KBR from using the sole positive EEOC result to try to impugn Jones’ reputation. KBR states that she “changed” her allegations in response to KBR’s evidence that the barracks itself was all-male. Jones legal complaint, filed in 2007 after the EEOC investigation was completed, reads as follows:
Jamie was housed, during her off-duty hours, in a two-story living quarters which consisted of a room on a co-ed floor in a predominantly male barracks… Jamie’s room was located at the end of a hall on the second floor. There was no bathroom on that floor - which forced Jones to walk past several men’s rooms in order to get to the women’s restroom on the first floor, enduring “catcalls” and partially dressed men. It is working of noting that the use of alcoholic beverages was permitted at this location at this time, and several of the men were often drinking.
('more at url above)