11 November 2004

Always bet on the non-accountable to be the bad guys

[source, source]

American diplomats pressured the Halliburton Company in late 2003 to keep using a Kuwaiti subcontractor to truck fuel into Iraq, despite evidence that the company was charging exorbitant prices, newly released State Department documents show.

The documents - a handful of e-mail messages and memorandums to and from American diplomats - raise yet more questions about the post-invasion fuel imports to Iraq, which are already the subject of federal inquiries into possible overbilling and fraud.

They indicate that the Kuwait government secretly demanded that only one company - a Kuwaiti company, Altanmia - be selected to handle fuel sales to Iraq. And they show behind-the-scenes efforts by the American-run Coalition Provisional Authority and the American Embassy in Kuwait to ensure that demand was met, both to speed delivery and foster Kuwaiti support in Iraq.

The documents, however, do not clarify the central questions about the imports: why the Americans went along with such high costs and which parties to the transactions may have benefited most. The documents were released Wednesday by Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat and ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, as he asked for new Congressional hearings on the matter. The committee has gathered hundreds of documents related to the issue.

Whenever there’s funny stuff like this, betting on State Department arm-twisting over corporate corruption is the way to go.

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