Halliburton scored almost $1.2 billion in revenue from contracts related to Iraq in the third quarter of 2006, leading one analyst to comment: "Iraq was better than expected... Overall, there is nothing really to question or be skeptical about. I think the results are very good."
Very good indeed. An estimated 655,000 dead Iraqis, over 3,000 dead coalition troops, billions stolen from Iraq's coffers, a country battered by civil war - but Halliburton turned a profit, so the results are very good.
Very good certainly for Vice President Dick Cheney, who resigned from Halliburton in 2000 with a $33.7 million retirement package (not bad for roughly four years of work). In a stunning conflict of interest, Cheney still holds more than 400,000 stock options in the company. Why pursue diplomacy when you can rake in a personal fortune from war?
Yet Cheney isn't the only one who has benefited from the Bush administration's destructive policies. The Bush family has done quite nicely too. Just a few examples:
Bush's dad has strong connections to the Carlyle Group, a massive private equity investment firm whose Chairman Emeritus is Frank Carlucci, a former college roommate of Donald Rumsfeld's and former Defense Secretary under Ronald Reagan. Imagine the pull Carlucci has with today's White House...
But Carlucci has another secret weapon - Bush Sr. Amid conflict-of-interest allegations, the elder Bush resigned from the Carlyle Group in 2003, but reportedly remains on retainer, opening doors to lucrative profits in the Middle East and elsewhere. Bush Sr.'s specialty is Saudi Arabia; in fact, he was at a Carlyle investment conference with Osama bin Laden's estranged brother, Shafiq bin Laden, when the 9/11 attacks took place.
Carlyle specializes in military and security investments, and with Bush Jr. in office, the company's profits have soared; it received $677 million in contracts in 2002, then a whopping $2.1 billion in 2003. Carlyle's investors currently enjoy an equity capital pool of over 44 billion dollars.
In January 2006, Bush Sr. wrote China's Foreign Affairs Ministry that it would be "beneficial to the comprehensive development of Sino-US relations" if Beijing approved the sale of a Chinese bank to a consortium which included Carlyle. Bluntly put, Bush Sr. asked China to grant Carlyle a lucrative business deal or risk his son's wrath.
William H. T. "Bucky" Bush
George's "Uncle Bucky" joined the board of military contractor Engineered Support Systems Inc. (ESSI) in 2000 and perhaps not surprisingly, the value of the company's governmental contracts has strongly increased with Bush Jr. in office. Uncle Bucky earns monthly consulting fees as well as options to buy stock at favorable prices, and considering that ESSI's stock tripled two weeks after 9/11 then settled into comfy territory, it's safe to say that George's uncle is doing quite well. In fact, Bucky cashed out on 8,438 stock options in January 2005, earning himself a cool $450,000 in the process. As of 2005, he still owned options on 45,000 more shares of the company's stock and accrues more each year.
War is profitable for ESSI, or as an executive explained: "The increasing likelihood for a prolonged military involvement in Southwest Asia by U.S. forces well into 2006 has created a fertile environment for the type of support ... products and services that we offer."
But lest anyone conclude that Bucky has opened doors for the company, ESSI's vice-president of investor relations explained in 2005, "The fact his nephew is in the White House has absolutely nothing to do with Mr Bush being on our board or with our stock having gone up 1000 per cent in the past five years." Absolutely nothing at all.
Neil Mallon Bush
Neil rose to infamy in the 1980s as director of the Colorado-based Silverado Savings and Loan; after Silverado collapsed due to mismanagement and corruption, US taxpayers were stuck with the billion-dollar bailout, yet Neil managed to escape the crisis with a small fine and no jail time. It helps to have a dad as Vice President.
In 1993, Neil joined Bush Sr. in Kuwait to drum up business in the Middle East, and today, he makes a profit by helping companies cash in on the occupation of Iraq. For example, in late 2003, The Financial Times reported that Neil earned $60,000 per year through the Crest Investment Company, a private firm generating contracts in Iraq. Crest was headed by Jamal Daniel, a longtime Bush family contact, who was also on the advisory board of New Bridge Strategies, a company specifically set up "with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq."
In 2003, Neil's messy divorce proceedings revealed that he was to get $2 million in stock options from a Chinese semiconductor firm despite having limited education or business experience in that area; critics complained that the Chinese company was buying access to his brother, the president. Neil later testified that on repeated business trips to Asia, he'd had sex with women who showed up at his hotel rooms, presumably prostitutes hired by companies trying to curry favor with the White House.
Neil has also profited from George's disastrous No Child Left Behind educational policy. His company, Ignite! (partially owned by Bush Sr. and funded by Crest Investment) has been awarded with lucrative federal contracts to place its educational products in school districts across the country.
Marvin Pierce Bush
Marvin joined Bush Sr. and Neil on their Middle Eastern sales trip in 1993 and then made a mint in the investment banking business. He is a co-founder of Winston Partners, a private investment firm whose investments in military and security firms profit from Bush's "war on terror."
Having a sibling as president has helped Marvin in other ways, too. He is on the board of HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc., which had insured parts of the World Trade Center; HCC benefited from the 9/11 insurance bailout legislation pushed through by brother George.
Marvin was also on the board of Securacom, a company which provided electronic security for both Dulles International Airport and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Marvin stepped down in 2000, but how intriguing that Bush's brother was so well connected to the security of two critical locations on that fateful day.
In short, the "results are very good" for the Bush dynasty, perhaps even "better than expected," thanks to George's stint in the Oval Office. Dad's still setting up international deals. Uncle Bucky's cashing in his stock options. Brothers Neil and Marvin are laughing all the way to the bank.
It's just the American people who have paid the ultimate price.
1. For more on war profiteering, head over to Halliburton Watch (www.halliburtonwatch.org) and Corp Watch (www.corpwatch.org). Catch a screening of the new Robert Greenwald film titled: Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers.
2. If you're searching for information on contemporary foreign policy issues, coupled with an opportunity to take positive action, check out Women's Action for New Directions (www.wand.org). The site offers in-depth coverage of Hot Topics, such as war and nuclear weapons, as well as fact sheets and other resources. Visit WAND's Take Action! center for petitions to sign and opportunities to contact Congress, the White House and the media about the peace and security issues you care about most.
Note: Originally published: October 25, 2006