mad in pursuit: greed & arrogance

2004 political season

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7.21.04 Cheney's Big Deals

Now that Republicans are revving up to attack John Edwards, progressive sharks are circling around Cheney. Salon kicks off the feeding frenzy with "Halliburton's Boss from Hell." They claim that his tenure at Halliburton could put him right in the Hall of Shame with the rest of the bad-apple CEOs of the 20th & 21st centuries.

Prior to Cheney's joining Halliburton, the company was prosperous and scandal-free. Its core competence was in oil-field services and construction. But when they needed a CEO, they made the strategic error of picking a guy with connections, rather that someone with an ounce of business experience.

Cheney -- the poster boy for greed and arrogance -- ran amuck. His strategy was apparently growth, growth, growth, executed fast and loose. He made lots of money -- for himself. Halliburton is reaping the whirlwind.

We all know about Halliburton's no-bid contract in Iraq and how it was gouging the government at the expense of our troops.

But apparently, while Cheney was boss, he sent Halliburton to Iran too.

The latest dose of Cheney-related bad news came on Monday, when Halliburton announced that the Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation of the company in connection with the operations of one of its subsidiaries in Iran. ... In early 2000, while Cheney was CEO, a Halliburton subsidiary located in the Cayman Islands opened an office in Tehran. U.S. regulations prohibit American companies from trading with Iran and Libya because of their links to terrorist organizations. While at Halliburton, Cheney lobbied against the sanctions, saying that they were "ineffective."

At the same time, Halliburton is posting big losses this quarter as they start writing off bad business deals resulting from Cheney's growth-no-matter-what strategy.

Meanwhile, both the Securities and Exchange Commission and French investigators are investigating Halliburton for its alleged involvement in bribing Nigerian officials over a giant liquefied natural gas project. Much of the alleged bribery occurred on Cheney's watch.

Add in a recent $106 million legal judgment against the company for its involvement in a Kazakh oil deal done during Cheney's stint as CEO, along with the Pentagon's ongoing investigations into Halliburton's overbilling (investigators have recently found that Halliburton spent $11 million to house personnel at the five-star Kuwait Hilton), and it becomes clear that Halliburton may have trouble surviving Dick Cheney.

This is a scary man, full of contempt for the rules and disregard for the facts. But while the Clintons endured years of heavy-handed investigations for their bad real estate deal in Arkansas -- remember Ken Starr? -- Cheney may have the teflon coating of most CEOs. He was only pursuing strategies, with his Board's approval -- some strategies work, some don't; to be a big CEO you gotta be a big risk-taker.

Whatever happened to the American spirit of fairness and outrage at evil industrialists? Will this man get his comeupance or will he simply be re-elected by a people whose news is fed to them by Rush Limbaugh?





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