Thursday, May 17, 2007


Giles Whittell of The Times of London is curioius why Cheney’s beloved Halliburton finds it so necessary to transplant its headquarters to Dubai. Are congressional investigators getting too close?
May 17, 2007
Moving house is said to be the most stressful experience in life after divorce and bereavement, and I would not wish to add to anyone’s stress in the middle of such a move. This is offered more in a spirit of reassurance.
The packers have already arrived at the comfortable Houston home of David Lesar. They may even have come and gone: Mr Lesar said after a golf tournament last week that there was little left to do but board a plane with his family and leave.
The Lesars will be going to Dubai, for good. The golf there is outstanding, and if they feel homesick for Texas they could always buy an artificial island in the shape of their home state, recently completed in the opalescent waters of the Gulf.
By way of background, Mr Lesar is the much-admired chief executive of Halliburton, the world’s second-largest oilfield services provider. Its former subsidiary, Kellogg Brown Root, specialises in providing meals, accommodation and laundrettes for the US Army. Together, Halliburton and KBR have earned approximately $20 billion in Iraq since 2003.
In the teeth of wearisome howling from conspiracy theorists, Mr Lesar announced in March that after 90 years based in Oklahoma and Texas his company was moving its world headquarters to Dubai to position it better for the growing volume of business it expects to win in the “Eastern hemisphere”.
As it happens, even after half a century of intense Western interest in the Eastern hemisphere, and in particular in Middle Eastern oil, 60 per cent of Halliburton’s revenues still come from North America – but Mr Lesar is the expert. We assume his projections are accurate.
It also happens that the month before the move was announced, the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee in Washington disclosed that $2.7 billion of Halliburton’s earnings in Iraq are regarded by the US Government’s Defence Contract Audit Agency as the proceeds of “suspect billing”, or overpricing.
And it transpires, finally, that the same vexatious muckrakers who have allowed themselves to become so exercised about Vice-President Dick Cheney’s former role as Halliburton’s chairman are now attacking the group for a new deal signed by an Iranian subsidiary to develop Tehran’s natural gasfields.
There is, of course, no suggestion of wrongdoing by Mr Lesar or Halliburton, which, in any case, formally separated from Kellogg Brown Root last month. But given the vengeful obsessions of Mr Lesar’s enemies in Washington it must be comforting to know that Dubai has no extradition treaty with the US; and that he is moving to a place of unfettered economic dynamism with a supportive commentariat. When Mr Cheney visited nearby Abu Dhabi last week, the political editor of the local newspaper covered the entire visit in a Halliburton baseball cap.

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