- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 26, 2003


The head of Halliburton has pleaded with his employees for help in orchestrating a media campaign in defense of the oil- and gas-service company, facing congressional accusations of overcharging U.S. taxpayers.

In an internal memorandum sent out Oct. 17 and leaked on the Internet this weekend, Halliburton Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dave Lesar asked company workers to write letters to news organizations to “show pride in your work and your co-workers.”

“Please add your voice to mine, so we can be heard over those who are distorting our efforts,” the memo says. “Please write from the heart and use your own words, and, where possible, use first-hand stories.”

Mr. Lesar checks off a list of Halliburton’s achievements, including its help in building warships during World War II, providing laundry services for American troops in Iraq and cleaning up 45,000 gallons of oil spilled in the U.S.-occupied country.

But the memo does not directly address specific charges leveled by Democratic Reps. Henry A. Waxman of California and John D. Dingell of Michigan, who charged earlier this month that the Houston-based corporation might be overcharging the federal government between 65 and 75 cents for every gallon of gasoline it sells in Iraq.

Calls left by AFP at Halliburton headquarters late Saturday weren’t returned.

Halliburton was awarded a multibillion-dollar contract to help rebuild Iraq’s dilapidated oil industry and to keep the country supplied with fuel.

Under the deal, the government pays Halliburton between $1.62 and $1.70 for each gallon of gasoline it imports from Kuwait, including a 91-cent to 99-cent transportation fee, according to the lawmakers.

But Mr. Waxman and Mr. Dingell said they had been assured by industry experts that it is possible to bring gasoline from Kuwait into Iraq for between 15 cents and 25 cents a gallon.

“The overcharging by Halliburton is so extreme that one expert has privately called it highway robbery,” the lawmakers said.

Mr. Lesar has rejected the assertions, arguing that Halliburton “has become a political target” because of Vice President Dick Cheney’s past involvement with the company.

Mr. Cheney had led Halliburton prior to the 2000 election.

As soon as Mr. Lesar finished with the first round of denials, the lawmakers disclosed that the Iraqi national oil company was paying between 90 cents and 98 cents to import a gallon of gasoline into Iraq, compared with Halliburton’s receipt of $1.62 to $1.70.

Mr. Waxman and Mr. Dingell also said last week that the United Nations’ oil-for-food program was being used to pay Halliburton, in possible violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution.

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