Our president has made it abundantly clear that Iraq's Saddam Hussein is the ringleader of what he calls the axis of evil.
Whether that's indeed the case is something that undoubtedly will play out during the coming months as the United States continues its war on terrorism.
What's strange, though, is that George Bush's own vice president, Dick Cheney, apparently didn't see either Iraq or Saddam as a big problem when he was making billions for Halliburton Inc. and millions for himself only a few years ago.
Halliburton's role, under Cheney's direction, was first outlined in a detailed story in the San Francisco Bay Guardian during the 2000 election campaign and has since been reported in other publications.
"During former Defense Secretary Richard Cheney's five-year tenure as chief executive of Halliburton Inc., his oil services firm raked in big bucks from dubious commercial dealings with Iraq. Cheney left Halliburton with a $34 million retirement package," the Guardian's Martin Lee wrote.
"Of course, U.S. firms aren't generally supposed to do business with Saddam Hussein," he continued. "But thanks to legal loopholes large enough to steer an oil tanker through, Halliburton profited big-time from deals with the Iraqi dictatorship. Conducted discreetly through several subsidiaries in Europe, the transactions helped Saddam Hussein retain his grip on power."
He went on to explain that Halliburton was among more than a dozen American firms that supplied Iraq's petroleum industry with spare parts and helped retool its oil rigs after the Gulf War and after U.N. sanctions were eased in 1998.
The Financial Times of London has estimated that between September of 1998 and the winter of 1999-2000, Cheney, as CEO of Halliburton, oversaw $23.8 million of business contracts for the sale of oil-industry equipment and services to Iraq through two of its subsidiaries, Dresser Rand and Ingersoll-Dresser Pump.
Under Cheney, Halliburton became the United States' largest oil services company and the fifth largest military contractor.
Just another example, apparently, of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's "beauty of capitalism."
When it comes to making big money, who cares about evil?
Copyright 2002 The Capital Times