Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bobby Fischer and Dick Cheney Compared
Both are Criminals; Only One is a Liar

This guy, James Taranto, is the author of the Best of the Web  page for the Wall Street Journal.  Today he included a blurb:

He Belongs in One, All Right
"Chess Great Fischer Seeks Asylum"--headline, Associated Press, July 21

I find this to be offensive, because it implies a negative value judgment about psychiatric hospitals and patients.  The implication is that because Mr. Fischer allegedly violated US law, he should be in a mental hospital.  No, people who are found guilty of crimes belong in a prison, not a hospital.  Yes, Fischer has said and done some awfully offensive things, and he may have broken the law.  Perhaps he's a bad man.  But don't joke about asylums.

Rant tangent aside, it seems odd that Mr.  Fischer would be of such interest to the US Dept. of Justice that they would extradite him from Japan.  His alleged crime:

Fischer is wanted in the United States for playing a rematch against Soviet world champion Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia in 1992. Yugoslavia was under international sanctions at the time, and U.S. citizens were banned from doing business there.

Fischer won the match and more than $3 million in prize money.

He was caught in Japan, because he was trying to get on a plane to the Philippines, and his passport was not valid.

Compare this to another story about another case of an American doing business with a sanctioned country:

Dems decry Halliburton's Iran ties

Wed, Jul. 21, 2004

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON - Democrats who have been hammering away at Halliburton Co. and its former chief executive Dick Cheney about the company's work in Iraq added Iran to their list of complaints Tuesday.

In a telephone press conference, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said he found it "unconscionable" that a Halliburton subsidiary appeared to be doing business with a country tied to terrorist activities at a time when Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive.

The press conference, organized by the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., came one day after Halliburton disclosed that a federal prosecutor had subpoenaed documents as part of an investigation on whether a Halliburton subsidiary violated anti-terror sanctions on Iran. In a filing with federal regulators Monday, Halliburton disclosed that the 3-year-old investigation had escalated from an inquiry by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control to a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Such cases are referred to Justice only when there is evidence "intentional or willful" violations have occurred, government officials said.

The Justice Department investigation relates to a subsidiary called Halliburton Products & Services Ltd., an oil field services company incorporated in the Cayman Islands. In a 2003 report, the company said the subsidiary "performs between $30 million and $40 million annually in oil field service work in Iran." [...]

That sounds bad.  But there's more:

July 22, 2004

Cheney Lobbied Congress to Ease Sanction Against Terrorist Countries While CEO of Halliburton


[...] It was Cheney who urged Congress in 1996 to ease sanctions against Iran, a country that's part of President Bush's axis of evil, so Halliburton could legitimately do business there.

During a trip to the Middle East in March 1996, Cheney told some U.S. businessmen that Congress should ease sanctions in Iran and Libya to foster better relationships with those countries.

[...] On the campaign trail, Cheney has been saying that Iran has ties to al-Qaeda and some of the 9-11 hijackers. But when Cheney was chief executive of Halliburton he wasn't concerned about that. But former President Bill Clinton was. The Clinton administration said U.S. companies conducting business in Iran may be inadvertently helping fund terrorist activities in that country.

In March 1995, Clinton signed an executive order that prohibited "new investments (in Iran) by U.S. persons, including commitment of funds or other assets." It also restricts U.S. companies from performing services "that would benefit the Iranian oil industry. Violation of the order can result in fines of as much as $500,000 for companies and up to 10 years in jail for individuals."

When Bush and Cheney were sworn into office in 2001 the administration decided it would not punish foreign oil and gas companies that invest in Iran or other countries that sponsor terrorism, including Syria and Libya.

The sanctions imposed on countries such as Iran and Libya before were blasted by Cheney before he became vice president, despite claims that those countries may have ties to terrorism.

[...] Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995. According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, "U.S. laws have banned most American commerce with Iran. Halliburton Products &  Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is "non-American." But, like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the Dallas company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world."

In the February 2001 report, the Journal quoted an anonymous U.S. official as saying "a Halliburton office in Tehran would violate at least the spirit of American law." Moreover, a U.S. Treasury Department website detailing U.S. sanctions against bans almost all U.S. trade and investment with Iran, specifically in oil services. The Web site adds: "No U.S. person may approve or facilitate the entry into or performance of transactions or contracts with Iran by a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. firm that the U.S. person is precluded from performing directly. Similarly, no U.S. person may facilitate such transactions by unaffiliated foreign persons."

[...] Some of the other highlights while Cheney ran Halliburton:

In 1995, Halliburton paid a $1.2 million fine to the U.S. government and $2.61 million in civil penalties for violating a U.S. trade embargo by shipping oilfield equipment to Libya. Federal officials said some of the well servicing equipment sent to Libya by Halliburton between late 1987 and early 1990 could have been used in the development of nuclear weapons. President Reagan imposed the embargo against Libya in 1986 because of alleged links to international terrorism.

But the fact that Halliburton may have unwillingly helped Libya obtain a crucial component to build an atomic bomb only made Cheney push the Clinton administration harder to support trade with Libya and Iran. [...]

That sounds bad.  But there's more:

Treasury reconsiders legality of Halliburton's work in Iran
February 11, 2004
(The article originally appeared in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, but is no longer available there.  This copy was saved on Independent Media TV.)

[...] Halliburton has acknowledged its foreign subsidiaries have done millions of dollars of oil-field services work for Iran over the years, including in the late 1990s, when Cheney headed the company. When Cheney was CEO, he spoke out against unilateral trade sanctions while Halliburton lobbied Congress to change the law as it applied to Iran and other nations.

Cathy Gist, a Halliburton spokeswoman, said the "activities of Halliburton's subsidiaries in Iran are staffed and managed by non- U.S. personnel." She said the company "believes that the operations of its subsidiaries in Iran are in compliance with U.S. laws." 

[...] The CBS News program "60 Minutes" reported last month that a Halliburton subsidiary that deals with Iran, Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., was registered in the Cayman Islands but actually did no business from there. Instead, the network reported the subsidiary conducts its business from an office in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, that is shared with KBR, a division of the Texas-based parent company that is getting the bulk of the Iraqi reconstruction contracts.

Halliburton's own Web site shows the two corporate entities -- KBR and Halliburton Limited, share the same 10th-floor Dubai address, the same telephone number and the same fax machine number. [...]

Their defense is that Halliburton Limited is not a US company.  But apparently it is not sufficient for the subsidiary to be registered somewhere else:  "No U.S. person may approve or facilitate the entry into or performance of transactions or contracts with Iran by a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. firm that the U.S. person is precluded from performing directly. Similarly, no U.S. person may facilitate such transactions by unaffiliated foreign persons."  Halliburton Limited and KBR have the same phone and fax numbers, they are in the same office, and we are to believe that no one from KBR has facilitated work by Halliburton Limited? 

We get all bent out of shape because someone plays a chess game in Yugoslavia, but we elect a vice-president who does business in Iran?  Who's company was fined for violating Reagan's embargo against Libya?  Who sent equipment to Libya that could be used to produce a nuclear weapon?  Perhaps Cheney should make sure his passport is still valid.

On a related note, see this article  about Cheney's blatant, damn lies about Halliburton's dealings with Iraq before the 2003 war. 

(Note: The Rest of the Story/Corpus Callosum has moved. Visit the new site here.)
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