Cheney aware of Iraq deals


The Washington Post

During last year’s presidential campaign, Richard B. Cheney acknowledged that the oil-field supply corporation he headed, Halliburton Co., did business with Libya and Iran through foreign subsidiaries. But he insisted that he had imposed a “firm policy” against trading with Iraq. “Iraq’s different,” he said. According to oil industry executives and confidential United Nations records, however, Halliburton held stakes in two firms that signed contracts to sell more than US$73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq while Cheney was chairman and chief executive officer of the Dallas-based company. Two former senior executives of the Halliburton subsidiaries say that, as far as they knew, there was no policy against doing business with Iraq. One of the executives also says that although he never spoke directly to Cheney about the Iraqi contracts, he is certain Cheney knew about them. Cheney’s spokeswoman, Juleanna Glover Weiss, declined to say whether he was aware of the trade during his tenure. She referred calls on the matter to Halliburton. A Halliburton spokesman, Guy Marcus, directed inquiries on the issue back to Cheney’s vice presidential office. Mary Matalin, Cheney’s counselor, said that if he “was ever in a conversation or meeting where there was a question of pursuing a project with someone in Iraq, he said, ‘No.’ ” “In a joint venture, he would not have reviewed all their existing contracts,” Matalin said. “The nature of those joint ventures was that they had a separate governing structure, so he had no control over them.” The trade was perfectly legal. Indeed, it is a case study of how U.S. firms routinely use foreign subsidiaries and joint ventures to avoid the opprobrium of doing business with Baghdad, which does not violate U.S. law as long as it occurs within the “oil-for-food” program run by the United Nations. Halliburton’s trade with Iraq was first reported by The Washington Post in February 2000. But U.N. records recently obtained by The Post show that the dealings were more extensive than originally reported and than Vice President Dick Cheney has acknowledged. As secretary of defense in the first Bush administration, Cheney helped to lead a multinational coalition against Iraq in the Persian Gulf War and to devise a comprehensive economic embargo to isolate Saddam Hussein’s government. After Cheney was named in 1995 to head Halliburton, he promised to maintain a hard line against Baghdad. But in 1998, Cheney oversaw Halliburton’s acquisition of Dresser Industries Inc., which exported equipment to Iraq through two subsidiaries of a joint venture with another large U.S. equipment maker, Ingersoll-Rand Co. The subsidiaries, Dresser-Rand and Ingersoll Dresser Pump Co., sold water and sewage treatment pumps, spare parts for oil facilities and pipeline equipment to Baghdad through French affiliates from the first half of 1997 to the summer of 2000, U.N. records show.

Ingersoll Dresser Pump also signed contracts — later blocked by the United States — to help repair an Iraqi oil terminal that U.S.-led military forces destroyed in the Gulf War. Former executives at the subsidiaries said they had never heard objections — from Cheney or any other Halliburton official — to trading with Baghdad.