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Chris Floyd's Global Eye

Published: January 27, 2004 (Issue # 938)


Out of the blood and murk of Iraq, yet another sinister connection is emerging, a skein of corruption tying Dick Cheney's Halliburton, the Bush Family fortunes - and a mysterious Kuwaiti company that peddles material for building weapons of mass destruction.

This month, Pentagon auditors called for a formal investigation of "overcharges" by Cheney's Halliburton hirelings. The well-connected corporation - which has been the chief beneficiary of the Bush Regime's looting of the American treasury to pay for its ravaging of Iraq - is accused of skimming $61 million in excess cream from a shady deal to import Kuwaiti gasoline into the conquered land.

To carry out this choice bit of war profiteering, Halliburton hooked up with Altanmia Marketing of Kuwait. Altanmia was given exclusive rights to ship Kuwaiti gasoline to Iraq - "even though it had no prior experience transporting fuel," U.S. Congressional investigators report. So what is the firm's actual expertise? Investments, real estate - and acting as "representative agents for companies trading in military and nuclear, biological and chemical equipment," the Wall Street Journal reports.

In other words, Halliburton's new partner traffics in the essential elements of WMD - the very stuff whose spread and sale the United States is ostensibly dedicated to stopping around the world. Ostensibly. But as always with the Bushists, the rhetoric of "security" is a thin rag to cover their unquenchable thirst for state-supported brigandage.

After grabbing the gasoline subcontract - before the bidding process was closed, naturally - Altanmia proceeded to charge Halliburton more than twice the price that other exporters were getting for moving gasoline into Iraq. Luckily, the White House has given Halliburton a "cost-plus" contract to lord it over Iraq's energy sector. Thus, the higher Altanmia's costs, the more "plus" Halliburton gets for its coffers - and all of it paid for by those eternal suckers, the American people. It's crony capitalism at its finest: the suckers shoulder the financial risk, the American military serves as company muscle; all Halliburton has to do is sit back and rake in the dough - minus a few campaign contributions and "retirement packages" for their political operatives, of course.

Strangely enough, Kuwaiti energy officials had never heard of Altanmia before the Halliburton deal. They had recommended several experienced distributors - with far cheaper rates - to the Americans, but were told that Altanmia was the only choice, the Wall Street Journal reports. Stout yeomen down in the military contracting ranks, under the mistaken impression that they were supposed to broker an honest deal, complained of heavy pressure from American and Kuwaiti government officials to keep Altanmia on the gravy train, Congress reports. One stalwart, contracting officer Mary Robertson, tried to stem the tide, declaring in a letter to Halliburton, "I will not succumb to the political pressures ... to go against my integrity and pay a higher price for fuel than necessary."

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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