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The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money (Social Science) [Hardcover]

Dan Briody
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 May 2004 Social Science
The author of the bestseller The Iron Triangle untangles a web of political back scratching in one of the world′s most powerful companies Halliburton–a Texas oil–field company Dick Cheney ran before he became Vice President–has courted controversy for the better part of the twentieth century, but only recently has it received intense media scrutiny. In The Halliburton Agenda, Halliburton and its subsidiaries form the foundation of a fascinating story of influence peddling and behind–the–scenes political maneuvering that has only increased in momentum over the last decade–culminating in a firestorm of problems arising as soon as Cheney took office. This intriguing book shows readers where Halliburton has been doing business and with whom–topping the list so far are Iran, Iraq, and Libya. It also reveals how this juggernaut of a corporation has engaged in a cycle of profits that begins by selling products and services to potential terrorist states, contracting with the federal government during times of war against those states, then gaining valuable rebuilding contracts to help repair those states. It will also show how a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, has become an indispensable part of the U.S. military, so much so that the two are indistinguishable at times. Halliburton is one of the first American companies to recognize the importance of aligning itself with powerful politicians, heavily contributing to campaigns, then cashing in on lucrative government contracts. Engaging and informative, The Halliburton Agenda carefully explores the arc of the company′s success, its use of political affiliation, and the scope of its international business.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (28 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471638609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471638605
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 15.8 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 834,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

“…traces the business and political history of the company’s founders.” ( Lloyd’s List , 5 th November 2004) “If you want to get your blood boiling, don’t bother sitting out in the sun. Read this book instead.” ( CFO Europe , July 2004) “…he [Briody] is a skilled story teller.” ( Financial Times , 13 May 2004) Following hard on the heels of The Iron Triangle , an examination of international consultants the Carlyle Group, Briody turns his considerable investigative skills to the rise of the Halliburton Corp., its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root and the transformation of the U.S. military establishment. With a blunt matter–of–fact tone, Briody describes the rise of the two companies from the dusty oil fields of west Texas to the marbled corridors of power in Washington, D.C. Briody contends that Halliburton and KBR have literally bought politicians, manipulated the contracting process and ridden the current wave of small wars to record profits. Small, detailed moments of intense private pressure and unscrupulous backroom deal–making dominate this story. While Briody seethes with indignation, there is a grudging respect for the skill with which the executives and politicians ply their trade and a bitter resignation at the reality of the ways of government contracting. Central to the Pentagon’s post–Cold War strategy is outsourcing nonmilitary tasks to private contractors. One of the chief architects of this plan was Dick Cheney, defense secretary for the first President Bush. Briody argues that with Cheney now vice–president and Halliburton awarded a huge no–bid contract to reconstruct Iraq’s oil fields, public outrage has grown. As the controversy simmers, Briody raises an important question: with Americans and Iraqis dying by the day, have military matters become so efficient and profitable for companies like Halliburton that war itself is easier to wage? At times the book is repetitive and has the feel of being rushed to press, but this urgency lends the book a certain gravity. Briody has his own agenda—brilliantly illuminating the increasingly crucial nexus of public need, private profit and war making. Agent, Daniel Greenberg. (May) ( Publishers Weekly , May 5, 2004)

“…traces the business and political history of the company’s founders.” ( Lloyd’s List , 5 th November 2004) “If you want to get your blood boiling, don’t bother sitting out in the sun. Read this book instead.” ( CFO Europe , July 2004) “…he [Briody] is a skilled story teller.” ( Financial Times , 13 May 2004)

From the Inside Flap

During the 2000 vice presidential debate, when Dick Cheney was asked about his financial success as Halliburton’s CEO, he responded that the government had played no role in it. But even Cheney himself couldn’t really believe that. Halliburton has taken the idea of the military–industrial complex to a level never before seen. And in its seemingly unstoppable march to becoming the vendor of choice for the United States military, Halliburton continues to court controversy. In The Halliburton Agenda, Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, form the foundation of an intriguing story of cronyism and conflict of interest that has only increased in momentum over the last decade. Award–winning journalist and bestselling author Dan Briody cuts through the veil of secrecy that cloaks this controversial company, and reveals how the confluence of business and politics has led to questionable deals as well as financial windfalls for Halliburton, its executives, and its subsidiaries. The Halliburton Agenda digs deep to expose: A pattern of cost overages by the company dating as far back as World War II and extending forward through Vietnam, Somalia, and Bosnia How Halliburton has been doing business with terrorist states such as Libya and Iran for decades–and why the company continues to do so The questionable legality of the U.S. government’s contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, including LOGCAP–the government’s contract to provide logistical support to the Army–and the contract for the work in rebuilding Iraq’s oil infrastructure Why the company paid a $2.4 million bribe to a Nigerian tax official, acquired $4.4 billion of asbestos liability, and changed its accounting procedures without notifying its shareholders–an action that has led to an ongoing SEC investigation The current allegations against Halliburton for overcharging the U.S. government for gas in Iraq Halliburton’s inextricable links to politicians and the United States military, its dealings with countries known to sponsor terrorism, and its controversial $2 billion government contract to rebuild Iraq are only the tip of the iceberg. The Halliburton Agenda untangles a complex web of political power plays and deceptive deals–revealing how a company with the right connections can finesse its way to success.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Did I get the wrong book from Amazon.com? The book is advertised to be a book about Cheney and Halliburton - it is about Halliburton but not Cheney. For example, pictures of Cheney appear on both the front and back covers of the book jacket. But that is very misleading. The book is not about Cheney per se; there are in fact only a dozen or so pages dealing with Cheney near the end of the book and he plays only a minor role; he finally appears on page 191 of the 237 added seemingly as an afterthought. Surprisingly, the dominant politician in the book is the former president and Texas native Lyndon Baines Johnson or LBJ. By my estimate and it is confirmed by looking at the index, LBJ takes up three times as much space in the book as Cheney, and furthermore he plays a much more important role in setting any "agenda" at Brown & Root - a subsidiary of Halliburton. Even though the book even if falsely promoted it is still an interesting read about two old US companies and their eventual merger; but at just 237 pages long in medium font is not a 5 star effort, just 3.5 stars, maybe only 3 stars at best.
The first company described is the oil well services company Halliburton started in approximately 1920 by Erle Halliburton in Oklahoma. Erle Halliburton died in 1957 leaving a successful and financially strong and independent business enterprise as his legacy. The second company is Brown & Root (B & R) that developed from being a Texas road construction company that was started around 1917 to become a major defense contractor.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A corporate history powered by political fuel 8 May 2006
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Author Dan Briody has written a book that goes beyond pundit finger-pointing over the controversial "no-bid" contracts relationship between Halliburton and Vice President Dick Cheney. This is a serious examination of the high-octane blend of profit and politics that fuels the Bush administration's agenda. Briody begins with an extensive history of two Texas companies, Halliburton and Brown & Root (now KBR). He deftly portrays how they made their fortunes despite Great Depression hardships, World War II and political intrigues aplenty. Briody pulls no punches while maintaining a reportorial (if not totally objective) tone, although people who hold different political views might argue with his opinions and conclusions. We recommend this saga to anyone looking for a deeper understanding of the ongoing tryst between corporate America and its politicians. While this book is not presented as a smoking gun, it portrays insider politics that smolder like an oil fire you can't quite extinguish, leaving sort of an ugly haze.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's who you know? 24 May 2004
By Robert M. Logan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Regardless of your political persuasion, I recommend The Halliburton Agenda. Author Dan Briody follows Erle Halliburton's career from the oil fields as a driver in the early 1900's to the boardrooms where in the 1920's Halliburton was already a millionaire. During the same era brothers, Herman and George, founders of Brown & Root, the predecessor of the modern day Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) that is now a subsidiary of Halliburton, began as road builders and garbage haulers in Texas and graduated to dam builders and became a major government contractor as they learned to work the political system.
The ties between the Brown brothers and politicians, most notably Lyndon Johnson, are revealed in some detail. It is a fascinating view. The ups and downs of KBR are followed through the decades as the construction firm lands contract after contract.
Early on, author Briody makes a strong effort to keep his opinions - if not his perspective - off the pages. Unfortunately later in the book, he does not stick to the facts, but occasionally opines. An example of this editorializing is found on page 211 when discussing Dick Cheney Briody states "Either way, he's not the man I want bending the president's ear on a daily basis." I would have preferred coming to that conclusion on my own.
Overall, the book has a good deal of balance with Briody giving space to others praising Halliburton's while raising questions about the LOGCAP (Logistics Civil Augmentation Program) design and bidding process.
I like timelines, charts and pictures. Unfortunately, this book has none. A timeline of the successes and failures with a listing of the contracts would be a nice addition to the book. Also, photographs of the major players and construction projects would add flavor.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political back scratching and war profiteering... 18 Jun 2005
By C. Middleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Political cronyism has been part and parcel of western democracy since the hay days of the Roman Empire. It is extremely nave to believe otherwise, "jobs for the boys"; political portfolios for the "mates", and lucrative contracts for family members are an unfortunate aspect of the system, which has not changed, and will not change, in the foreseeable future. Moreover, another unfortunate reality is that war is good business. One only has to look back at the Civil War, those "damn Yankee carpet baggers", filtering down from the north at the end of the war and exploiting the defeated Southerners, in the name of "reparations". Many made a fortune from the defeated south, just as a few companies are currently making millions from the spoils of the Iraqi war. What Briody calls in this book, the "iron triangle", the collusion of government, military and corporations, he targets the Halliburton Corporation and its subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root, describing a long history of political back scratching, war profiteering, illegal campaign contributions, and a long and lucrative relationship with key political figures, such as Lyndon B. Johnson and currently, Vice President Cheney, which is making a few individuals extremely rich, unjustly, from the hard earned tax dollars of the American people.

Most of the book is devoted to illustrating the business history of Halliburton and Brown & Root, providing a long and entrenched business practice of political back scratching through illegal campaign contributions, in this case, the long and successful relationship between Lyndon B. Johnson and the Brown brothers through the 40's 50's, 60's, turning Brown & Root into one of the most successful construction companies in American history. The evidence of this collusion between the company and Johnson is without question. But the current relationship between Halliburton and Vice President Cheney, once CEO of this lucrative corporation, to my mind, is even more ethically devastating, as their relationship continues today, while the company has sole contractual rights with the government, supporting the military and "rebuilding" the war torn country of Iraq.

Why has Halliburton been given these lucrative contracts while other companies are pushed out of the bidding process? One can say that they have a proven track record of getting the job done, but there is also evidence of over charging (gas supplies to Iraq) that is currently under investigation. It is also well know that Halliburton has done business with known terrorist countries such as Libya, and manage to wriggle out of the legal spotlight. One would have to be a blind man not to see the connection between the Bush administration and these companies, no matter how many times Cheney denies the relationship exists in present time. As an ex CEO, he continues to be on their payroll and is in possession of numerous stock options. These facts should certainly raise a few red flags.

This book illustrates the political and corporate machinations that go on behind the scenes, and that "jobs for the boys" is an unfortunate reality of our system, and war, regrettably, is a profitable business option.

Recommended.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Digs deep! 17 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Briody has done an excellent job of proving a full accounting of Halliburton and it's subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, to uncover the dark side of capitalism and democracy -- where there is no competition and all the benefits of democracy accrue to one company. That the public, politicians, and even the Pentagon haven't seen the dangers here is baffling. Hopefully this book will help open more eyes.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unholy Trinity Revealed 18 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Who could believe the clandestine relationships betweeen big business, politics and the armed forces could exists to this degree outside of a Tom Clancy novel, but Briody reveals through careful research that indeed it does. This book was a real eye opener!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Emotions: Too Short and Surprisingly it Features LBJ 30 Nov 2005
By J. Robinson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Did I get the wrong book from Amazon.com? The book is advertised to be a book about Cheney and Halliburton - it is about Halliburton but not Cheney. For example, pictures of Cheney appear on both the front and back covers of the book jacket. But that is very misleading. The book is not about Cheney per se; there are in fact only a dozen or so pages dealing with Cheney near the end of the book and he plays only a minor role; he finally appears on page 191 of the 237 added seemingly as an afterthought. Surprisingly, the dominant politician in the book is the former president and Texas native Lyndon Baines Johnson or LBJ. By my estimate and it is confirmed by looking at the index, LBJ takes up three times as much space in the book as Cheney, and furthermore he plays a much more important role in setting any "agenda" at Brown & Root - a subsidiary of Halliburton. Even though the book even if falsely promoted it is still an interesting read about two old US companies and their eventual merger; but at just 237 pages long in medium font is not a 5 star effort, just 3.5 stars, maybe only 3 stars at best.

The first company described is the oil well services company Halliburton started in approximately 1920 by Erle Halliburton in Oklahoma. Erle Halliburton died in 1957 leaving a successful and financially strong and independent business enterprise as his legacy. The second company is Brown & Root (B & R) that developed from being a Texas road construction company that was started around 1917 to become a major defense contractor. The business grew through political connections and after many decades B & R had become the largest engineering and construction company in the USA, boosted by the Vietnam war effort, and fed by a series of domestic and foreign construction and defense contracts stretching around the globe.

The book tells (very briefly) how these companies developed, merged in 1962 with R & B being bought by Halliburton, and how they became a major defense contractor. It also contains many side stories such as the influence of the rising political star LBJ in Texas, dam construction, back room operators such as A.J.Wirtz, political intrigue, the milking of Roosevelt's New Deal money, navy boat building, the fall of Leland Olds who was a bureaucrat blocking their expansion, the Johnson Space Center contract, Vietnam contracts, the LOGCAP contract, the Dresser merger, Henry Waxman's congressional charges against Halliburton and the sole sourcing, etc. Cheney appears near the end of the book and I did learn that Cheney flunked out of Yale and was arrested twice for DWI in his youth. There are a number of insights and comments on the current contracts to Halliburton. But since Halliburton had the LOGCAP contract before Cheney, it seems to me that Cheney played no more a dramatic role - I suspect - than any other good CEO or "rainmaker" might have played at Halliburton to boost its revenues.

As a book I would say it rates just 3 or 4 stars since as the author acknowledges that he uses and number of existing books such as "Erle P. Halliburton: Genius with Cement" and other publications, and most of the book is about the older history - as I said Cheney does not even appear until page 191 out of 237. So even when he appears the information is scant. Having said that it is clear the author has done extensive research, he has a nice reference section for further reading, he brings the story together, but overall it seems like a short collection of historical facts and tidbits. As it stands, it is more of a "gateway" book or introduction and it would have been a 5 star book if it was about 400-500 pages long and was more complete. But some of the references and 40 pages of notes at the back are worth a follow up read.
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