While the months pass for US troops occupying Iraq, the financial value and taxpayer-funded cost of Halliburton's extensive Iraq contracts increase.
Halliburton, a huge global conglomerate in the oil field business, landed a non-competitive-bid contract for work in Iraq that now looks almost open-ended. The cost, recently reported by the New York Times at over $2 billion, has led to inquiries being sent to the Office of Management and Budget by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and John D. Dingell (D-Mich.).
Among other issues, Vice President Richard Cheney was head of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000 and may receive deferred compensation and other benefits (not yet calculated) from Halliburton for a period of five years, according to his 2001 financial disclosure statement. Cheney's "golden handshake," however, is not the administration's only link to Halliburton. The company's chief shareholders, whose top management can be predicted to benefit financially from war in Iraq, also have administration ties.
David Letterman-style, the Top Ten shareholders for Halliburton Company, Inc., are as follows: (see biz.yahoo.com/hd/h/hal.html):
#10: The Vanguard Group, with 7.6 million shares of Halliburton stock, worth about $176 million. Vanguard, also 10th largest mutual-fund shareholder in Halliburton, is a huge owner in ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips. It moved onto this list recently when Dallas-based Maverick Capital, privately owned by the Wylie family, moved off. Vice President Cheney's disclosure statement (above) shows millions of his retirement money invested through Vanguard.
#9: Lord Abbett & Co., with about 8 million shares of Halliburton. Lord Abbett's trustees, who manage billions controlled by this investment firm, include Bush uncle William H. T. Bush. Lord Abbett is also one of Halliburton's top ten mutual fund holders (another 4.7 million shares).
#8: Deutsche Bank, with 8.3 million shares of Halliburton. Deutsche Bank was home to Alvin B. Krongard, now Bush's number-three man at the CIA. Krongard, whom the CIA web site lists as a longtime consultant, was a director at Alex Brown Bankers Trust, which got a multi-million management contract with FMR (see #7).
#7: FMR Corporation (Fidelity Management & Research), with 10 million shares. FMR, the world's largest mutual fund company, and Wellington (see #2, below) are by far the biggest shareholders in TB Woods Corp., where presidential cousin Craig Stapleton was a director before becoming ambassador to the Czech Republic. FMR also owns big in United Defense/Carlyle, connected to former President George H. W. Bush, and Fresh Del Monte, where presidential brother Marvin P. Bush is back on the board. Interestingly, FMR also owns about 50,000 shares of Harken Energy, George W. Bush's old stomping grounds (current value: about $20,000). Fidelity's Magellan Fund is also the second largest mutual fund holder in Halliburton.
#6: Putnam Investment Manage-ment, LLC, with more than 12.5 million shares. Putnam also owns stock in United Defense/the Carlyle Group and in Fresh Del Monte. Putnam is another top mutual fund holder in Halliburton.
#5: State Street Corporation, with 13 million shares. State Street, which reportedly controls $6 trillion in investments, recently revealed plans for a multi-million deal with (#8) Deutsche Bank, and owns $4.5B worth of Morgan Stanley (#3, below). State Street is also hugely invested in ExxonMobil, one of Saddam's biggest customers, and BP, which started life as "Iraq Petroleum." Also owns big in United Defense/Carlyle.
#4: Barclays Bank PLC, with 17.5 million shares of Halliburton. Barclays is also into United Defense and Fresh Del Monte, and has successfully hung on to 85,000 shares of Harken Energy.
#3: Morgan Stanley, with over 20 million shares. Morgan Stanley, among other connections on this list, is also a shareholder in United Defense and Fresh Del Monte, as well as in #8 Deutsche Bank.
#2: Wellington Management Co., LLP: Headquartered in Boston, Wellington calls itself one of America's oldest investment firms. It holds about 23 million shares, or more than half a billion dollars' worth, of Halliburton, and is linked with most of the rest of this list.
#1: Capital Research and Manage-ment Company, with 25 million shares, also worth over half a billion dollars. Los Angeles-based Capital Group is also a major investor in military contractors Lockheed and Raytheon, and is linked with FMR and Wellington in other large holdings.
Vice presidential candidates have traditionally been chosen for the political advantage of a background, region, age, etc., different from that of the presidential candidate. The American system of orderly transmission of power indulges this political expediency partly because it helps prevent the formation of a behind-the-scenes cabal. Good idea.
This list footnotes some of the recent public discussion about Halliburton. On Meet the Press Sept. 14, Cheney disavowed any present connection to Halliburton: "And since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now for over three years." The statement was subsequently reinforced by spokespersons for both Cheney and Halliburton, who pointed out that Cheney's contract protects his benefits even if the company loses money.
The disclosure form paints a somewhat more nuanced picture. The Vanguard Group holdings are easily among Cheney's largest holdings. Assets are given in ranges (from $100,000 to $1M; from $1M to $5M; etc). Cheney's statement includes two holdings in the $500,000-$1M range; two holdings in the $1M-$5M range; and three holdings in the $5M-$25M range. Thus Cheney's assets invested with Vanguard Group total $18M to $87M. Given the size of Vanguard's stake in Halliburton, it is hard to imagine a mathematical possibility that Cheney's assets are unconnected to Halliburton's fortunes.
Probable return on assets is obviously hard to quantify. Some estimate can be provided by George W. Bush's own financial disclosure statement (see www.opensecrets.org). Bush had relatively piddling assets of $68,766 invested in Vanguard in 2001, on which he declared a quite respectable capital gain of $4,735, or about 6%.
Interestingly, the previous list of top Halliburton shareholders included Texas' Wylie brothers, known as the Maverick Group. The privately owned Maverick Capital last surfaced in headlines back during campaign 2000, when the billionaire Wylies turned out to be behind a group called "Republicans for Clean Air." The group, little known before the campaign, ran a blitz of pro-Bush ads praising Bush on the environment and attacking John McCain, just before the March primaries in 2000, when McCain had been beating Bush, and was credited with damaging McCain's candidacy.
Among other holdings, Maverick also owns millions of shares of the rightwing Liberty Media Corporation and Clear Channel Communications, which sponsored a series of war-boosting rallies around the nation in spring 2003. To these influences can be attributed much of the quality of public discourse about Iraq.
Margie Burns is a Texas native who now writes from Washington, D.C. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.