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The Halliburton Agenda: The Politics of Oil and Money

19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471745945
ISBN-10: 0471745944
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Editorial Reviews Review

Despite their shared preference for keeping a low profile, Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton, his former employer, gained notoriety in the aftermath of the war in Iraq thanks to a series of lucrative government contracts awarded to Halliburton, for which they never had to bid. Business journalist Dan Briody sheds light on the history of the company and demonstrates how its present-day relationship with influential politicians is not anomalous but part of a time-honored yet ethically suspect tradition of doing business. Briody introduces Erle Halliburton, who was born into poverty but found great financial success with innovative oil well technology. And while Halliburton avoided getting close to elected officials or pursuing government contracts, the Brown brothers of Texas-based Brown & Root made the nurturing of "pet politicians" a top priority as they grew their construction business into one of the most powerful in the nation. The Halliburton Agenda details the mutually beneficial relationship the Browns shared with an up and coming Lyndon Johnson as money and influence flowed freely between the two. Halliburton acquired Brown & Root in 1962 and with it, Briody contends, plenty of questionable business practices that continue to this day. Dick Cheney looms ominously on the book's cover but he doesn't appear much in the book until fairly late in the Halliburton story. Still, because Cheney's early-1990s' appointment to the job of CEO (after no private sector experience) and departure to be Vice President in 2000 coincided with an upsurge in Halliburton revenues and controversies, there's plenty of material to examine. While many have questioned what sway corporations have in the George W. Bush administration, Briody's extended look at Halliburton's corporate culture and history provides enlightening perspective. --John Moe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (December 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471745944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471745945
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,261,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Logan on May 24, 2004
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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Middleton on June 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Political cronyism has been part and parcel of western democracy since the hay days of the Roman Empire. It is extremely naïve 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.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2004
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.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 2004
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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Herbert L Calhoun on April 23, 2012
Format: Paperback
What's More Expensive than War? Answer: the Military Outsourcing Business. At least that's the conclusion this author comes to as he tells us that at least since Vietnam, Haliburton, now the mother ship of Kellog, Brown & Root, (KBR) has been in the lucrative business of providing military support. This book chronicles KBR/Haliburton's meteoric rise from a mid-sized Texas construction company to a corporate giant sitting at the very center of America's gargantuan military industrial complex. Haliburton, with its tentacles in everything from "putting out oil fires," weapons procurement and maintenance, to the training and feeding of troops and providing "military logistics," is precisely what President Eisenhower warned us about in his now famous farewell address.

Using its political clout to gain access to multi-billion dollar sole-source government contracts, Haliburton, like its counterpart, the bankers on Wall Street, has become yet another case of the (corporate) tail wagging the (political) dog. When its President/CEO, Dick Cheney, became GW Bush's Vice President, and threw several billion dollars worth of contracts out the White House window where his Haliburton friends could catch them before they hit the ground, Haliburton had finally reached the very pinnacle of political power in the U.S. - the same exalted status of unaccountable political influence that the Wall Street Bankers had already achieved. And arguably, Haliburton was now in a position to potentially lead to the same kind of disastrous consequences on our economy as those engineered by the Wall Street banksters.

As the author shows, reaching this apex is no mean trick for a mid-size Texas company.
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