Vice President Dick Cheney has repeatedly assured Americans that he has
positively no involvement in directing billions of taxpayer dollars in
no-bid contracts to Halliburton, his former employer.
In September of 2003, he told NBC's Meet the Press that his office has "absolutely no influence of, involvement of, knowledge of in any way, shape or form of contracts."
In January of 2004, he told Fox News Radio, "I don't have anything to do
with the contracting process, and I wouldn't know how to manipulate the
process if I wanted to."
But, according to new evidence, Cheney's office
"coordinated" the Halliburton contracts and had the Pentagon specifically
seek its input in constructing what ultimately became a multi-billion-dollar
According to the New York Times, the Pentagon discussed a $1.9 million
planning contract with "senior Bush administration officials, including the
Vice President's Chief of Staff" before inking the deal. According to the
Los Angeles Times, three companies were vying for the lucrative contract
which was seen as the precursor to a much larger, $7 billion contract. But
instead of following the normal competitive civil service contracting
process, the Times reports that Bush administration political appointees
overruled the advice of Army lawyers and simply gave Halliburton the
contract. That decision was then brought to Cheney's Chief of Staff Lewis
"Scooter" Libby, who reviewed the contract and raised no objections to the
Cheney has denied having any financial stake in Halliburton receiving
massive government contracts, claiming, "I severed my ties nearly four years
ago when I ran for Vice President." But Cheney still receives about
$150,000 a year in deferred compensation from Halliburton and still owns
about 433,000 company stock options; options which could become more
valuable as the company's revenues rise. That fact was enough to lead the
nonpartisan Congressional Research Service to bill Cheney's continued
financial ties a "potential conflict of interest."
And yet despite all these questions, the Bush administration's allies today
formally blocked any testimony from Halliburton employees about the
matter. Specifically, when Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) presented a
slate of witnesses to the House Government Reform Committee, they were
prevented from appearing by Republicans. That move led Senator Frank
Lautenberg (D-NJ) to demand the appointment of a special counsel to
independently investigate the situation.