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Katrina and.. Halliburton? [Sep. 4th, 2005|04:28 am]
Guerrilla News Group
guerrillanews
[clearthought]
I decided to do a little feature on the reconstruction contracts that will soon be awarded to someone (someone big).

The Army Corps of Engineers has been stripped of its budget and there are no federal plans to change that, so corporate "help" is on the way. Look forward to high-priced homes and brand new military bases on the Gulf Coast. I've quoted and linked to 8 articles, some of which give a little history on Halliburton's previous contracts and FEMA's involvement in Katrina (and its absorption into Homeland Security). The rest is news which is basically just meant to show my concern for how much money is going to be made off of this disaster, who's going to profit from it, and the big hitter, how much of this was planned? Five days without a federal presence in the area? Question mark? Dot dot dot?




Let's do a little connecting of dots for a moment, shall we?



Exhibit A, via yes_justice

The New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding. . . the largest single-year funding loss ever . . . I've been here over 30 years and I've never seen this level of reduction, said Al Naomi, project manager for the New Orleans district. I think part of the problem is it's not so much the reduction, it's the drastic reduction in one fiscal year. . . . The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved . . . the New Orleans district, which employs 1,300 people, instituted a hiring freeze last month . . . the first of its kind in about 10 years. . . One of the hardest-hit areas of the New Orleans district's budget is the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project. . . designed to improve drainage in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Tammany parishes. SELA's budget is being drained from $36.5 million awarded in 2005 to $10.4 million suggested for 2006 by the House of Representatives and the president.

(Senator) Landrieu said the Bush administration is not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority.

"I think it's extremely shortsighted. When the Corps of Engineers' budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana and they are (of) vital economic interest to the entire nation."




Exhibit B

"No one knows how much it will cost to rebuild the streets, the highways and the bridges devastated by Hurricane Katrina. One thing is for sure, however: It will cost more than any other post-disaster reconstruction effort in U.S. history."



Exhibit C

As the humanitarian crisis recedes, financial ruin will step up to threaten many of Hurricane Katrina's victims, especially those whose homes are flooded.

Flood insurance is not included in standard homeowner policies, but it is available through the federal government. The National Flood Insurance Program, the branch of the Federal Emergency Management Agency that provides flood insurance, expects more than $2 billion in insured losses from Katrina's floodwaters.

With about only 40 percent of residents in the area having flood insurance, victims will have to absorb billions in losses on their own. They will have to draw on limited disaster grant and loan programs, personal savings and second mortgages to rebuild.

[...]

Many victims of past floods are frustrated with the payoffs they received through the National Flood Insurance Program. A class- action lawsuit was filed in June against FEMA, as well as the insurance companies and other firms involved in administering the policies, charging that victims of Hurricane Isabel were underpaid for their claims. Maryland Insurance Commissioner Alfred Redmer Jr. has also complained about the issue in congressional testimony.

Two of the plaintiffs are Jennifer Dieux and Eric Mackay, of Shady Side, Md., who two years after the hurricane are still living in an 8- by 30-foot FEMA-provided trailer with their three children and dog.




Exhibit D

Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response and head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), today warned people who suffered damages from Hurricane Katrina to be extremely careful when hiring contractors to clean and repair disaster damaged property or remove disaster debris.

"Unfortunately, in disaster situations, scam artists are often ready to take advantage of the misfortunes of others," said Brown. "People should be especially alert for phone or door-to-door solicitors who hand out flyers and promise to speed up the insurance or building permit process, and those who ask for large cash deposits or advance payments in full."

"Whether they are architectural, engineering, electrical, or general contractors, most service providers in the building industry are honest," Brown continued, "But disasters attract scam artists. Some claim to be 'FEMA certified,' when, in fact, FEMA neither certifies nor endorses any contractor."

[...]

FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.




Exhibit E

In October, 2004, Bunnatine Greenhouse, a top military official responsible for making sure the Army Corps of Engineers complies with contracting rules, came forward and revealed that top Pentagon officials showed improper favoritism to Halliburton when awarding military contracts.
The allegations made by this official were first reported by Time Magazine.

Greenhouse said that when the Pentagon awarded Halliburton a five-year $7 billion contract, it pressured her to withdraw her objections, actions which she claimed were unprecedented in her experience.

[follow-up: Official who challenged Halliburton contracts demoted]



Exhibit F

Scandal-plagued Halliburton - the oil services company once headed by US Vice President Dick Cheney - sold an Iranian oil development company key components for a nuclear reactor, say Halliburton sources with intimate knowledge into both companies’ business dealings.

Halliburton was secretly working at the time with one of Iran’s top nuclear program officials on natural gas related projects and sold the components in April to the official's oil development company, the sources said.

Just a few weeks ago, a National Security Council report said Iran was a decade away from acquiring a nuclear bomb. That time frame could arguably have been significantly longer if Halliburton, whose military unit just reported a 284 per cent increase in its second quarter profits due to its Iraq reconstruction contracts, was not actively providing the Iranian Government with the means to build a nuclear weapon.

With Iran's new hardline government now firmly in place, Iranian officials have rounded up relatives and close business associates of Iran's former President and defeated mullah presidential candidate Hashemi Rafsanjani, alleging the men were involved in widespread corruption of Iran's oil industry, specifically tied to the country's business dealings with Halliburton.

[...]

Now comes word that Halliburton, which has a long history of flouting US law by conducting business with countries the Bush administration said has ties to terrorism, was working with Cyrus Nasseri, vice chairman of the board of directors of Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies, on oil and natural gas development projects in Tehran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team and has been negotiating Iran's nuclear development issues with the European Union and at the International Atomic Energy Agency.




Exhibit G

[Cody Camacho] served as an Army specialist in Iraq from March 2003 to March 2004 before he was honorably discharged in October of 2004.

[...]

Cody informed us of the lack of efforts toward reconstruction of infrastructure for the people of Iraq. Based on his observations during his deployment, many US resources were funneling into the construction of permanent US military bases in Iraq. (A nation can't have a "true democracy" without US military oversight, now can they?) To further nauseate the crowd, Cody told us that his job in Iraq was to protect Halliburton contractors, one of whom bragged to him that he was making over $100,000.00 per year (tax free). Given the fact that he was talking about Halliburton, it was not surprising to learn that many of those contractors were performing jobs US soldiers could have been doing. Disgusting to hear, but not surprising.



And the coup de grace..

Exhibit H: Navy Turns to Halliburton for Help on Damaged Bases

Facing extensive damage by Hurricane Katrina to naval installations in Mississippi, the Navy turned immediately to the Halliburton Company's KBR subsidiary for tasks like restoring electricity, repairing roofs and clearing debris at bases that are urgently needed for response efforts.

It is a familiar role for KBR, which under longstanding contracts has delivered the engineering equivalent of first aid to the Navy and other military and government agencies after natural disasters for more than 15 years.




So my advice to myself and anyone else in the reality-based community: watch closely for news of who is being awarded major reconstruction contracts in the areas damaged by Katrina. Also, I'd keep an eye out for FEMA, which so far isn't doing much with its over-inflated budget besides water bottles and military meals.
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