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From Houston to Dubai
Halliburton’s Gravy Train

Pfc. Profiteering

You can’t accuse Halliburton of hiding its intentions: to grasp, at all costs, every chance at war profiteering, hopefully with accomplices in government to help cut to the chase. When the Supreme Court elected Dick Cheney regent in 2000, Halliburton, the company whose chairman and CEO he had been since 1995—the company that had broken U.S. laws to grasp what it could of oil contracts in Iraq and Libya in the 1990s—knew it was about to profit like no company had ever profited from war before. What it lacked, of course was a war. It had lucrative contracts in the Balkans. But that wasn’t much. It needed something that could grow. Something that could feed dividends enough to make the old robber barons choke with jealousy from their graves. It took only a few months. The attacks of 9/11 came, one might say, on time, having given Halliburton time to position itself with the Bush junta’s new henchmen spread around government agencies. But setting up shop in Afghanistan and rigging up the infrastructure of the junta’s concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay was warm-up duty for the real deal: Iraq less than a year and a half later. That’s been the real bonanza. Halliburton employs more employees in Iraq (30,000) than the entire Bush escalation will add up to, even with support staff. Halliburton is the real escalation, the real siphon of taxpayer money, the scandal that has yet to hit the congressional hearing circuit except in drips (as when truck drivers for Halliburton appeared before a Democratic investigative committee last year to describe how, despite warnings and evidence about an unsecured war, where Sunnis were staging attacks and killing people, Halliburton ordered its truckers to drive anyway. One got killed, several were injured. See Edward Sanchez’s testimony here and the hearing’s full transcript here.) One of these days a writer will win a Pulitzer for writing the Halliburton history of this war, because it is its war. Meanwhile, the latest fulfillment of prophesy: Halliburton, the company’s very own PR department announced on Sunday (odd day to announce such things, but not when the geography of the announcement is taken into account) “at a regional energy conference in the Kingdom of Bahrain the opening of a corporate headquarters office in the United Arab Emirates.  Halliburton Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Lesar will move to Dubai to lead the company’s efforts in growing Halliburton’s business in the Eastern Hemisphere, an important market for the global oil and gas industry. The opening of a headquarters in Dubai is the next step in a strategic plan announced in 2006 to focus on expanding its customer relations with national oil companies while concentrating more of the company’s investments and resources in growing its business in the Eastern Hemisphere.” Any questions? The company claims that it will keep its incorporation in the United States and keep a satellite corporate office in Houston. But that’s meaningless. In a matter of time, when it’ll be politically feasible, it’ll remove its incorporation from the United States, too, because in the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, there is no such thing as a federal tax on corporations. Individual emirates do tax foreign oil companies, but the rates vary, and of course the word “foreign” has its meanings (sooner or later Halliburton might as well call itself an Emirates company and avoid taxes altogether). Welcome to Dubai. Incidentally, when the 9/11 terrorists wanted to do business quietly through money transfers and such, the United Arab Emirates was their headquarters, too.

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