The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers
The Iraq war is many things to different people. It is called a strategic blunder and a monstrous injustice and sometimes even a patriotic mission, much to the chagrin of rational human beings. For many big companies, however, the war is something far different: a lucrative cash-cow. The years-long, ongoing military effort has resurrected fears of the so-called “military-industrial complex.” Media pundits are outraged at private companies scooping up huge, no-questions-asked contracts to manufacture weapons, rebuild infrastructure, or anything else the government deems necessary to win (or plant its flag in Iraq). No matter what your stance on the war, it pays to know where your tax dollars are being spent.
Following is a detailed rundown of the 25 companies squeezing the most profit from this controversial conflict.
The first name that comes to everyone’s mind here is Halliburton. According to MSN Money, Halliburton’s KBR, Inc. division bilked government agencies to the tune of $17.2 billion in Iraq war-related revenue from 2003-2006 alone. This is estimated to comprise a whopping one-fifth of KBR’s total revenue for the 2006 fiscal year. The massive payoff is said to have financed the construction and maintenance of military bases, oil field repairs, and various infrastructure rebuilding projects across the war-torn nation. This is just the latest in a long string of military/KBR wartime partnerships, thanks in no small part to Dick Cheney’s former role with the parent company.
2. Veritas Capital Fund/DynCorp
At first blush, a private equity fund (and not, say, Exxon-Mobil) being the number 2 profiteer in the Iraq war might sound strange. However, the cleverly run fund has raked in $1.44 billion through its DynCorp subsidiary. The primary service DynCorp has provided to the war efforts is the training of new Iraqi police forces. Often described as a ‘state within a state‘, the sizable company is headed by Dwight M. Williams, former Chief Security Officer of the upstart U.S. Department of Homeland Security. With this and other close ties to defense agencies, Veritas Capital Fund and DynCorp are well-positioned to capitalize on Iraq even more.
3. Washington Group International
The Washington Group International has parlayed its expertise the repair, restore, and maintenance of high-output oil fields into $931 million in Iraq-related revenue from 2003-2006. The publicly traded 25,000 employee company’s other specialties include the building and maintenance of schools, military bases, and municipal utilities, such as watering systems. Some have complained that Washington Group’s hefty government payoffs have served primarily to raise its trading price on the New York Stock Exchange. One thing is for sure – with oil prices continuing to rise, there will be no shortage of demand for the oil protection services Washington Group International brings to bear.
4. Environmental Chemical
All war zones eventually becomes cluttered with spent ammunition and broken/abandoned weapons, creating a lucrative niche for any company willing to clean it all up. In Iraq, this duty has fallen into the hands of Environmental Chemical. The privately held Burlingame, California company has stockpiled $878 million by the end of fiscal 2006 for munitions disposal, calling upon its “decade of experience planning and conducting UXO removal, investigation, and certification activities.” The company has close ties to several defense agencies and is staffed by graduates of the U.S. Navy’s Explosive Ordinance Schools, as well as the U.S. Army’s Chemical Schools at Anniston.
Aegis has done the United Kingdom proud after reeling in a contract to coordinate all of Iraq’s private security operations. The Pentagon contract is good for $430 million (incredibly lucrative by any standard) but it has landed Aegis in some hot public relations water. The company’s decision to contribute to Iraq war efforts has lead to a rejected membership application from the International Peace Operations Association. According to The Independent, the influential trade organization does not consider Aegis worthy of inclusion in the “peace and stability industry.” It remains to be seen whether Aegis will continue to be ostracized for participating in the training of Iraqi security forces.
6. International American Products
Even with all of the blinding innovation and trailblazing advances in military technology, none of it would be very useful without electricity. Running electrical wiring in hostile war zones is dicey business, but International American Products has stuck their neck out and collected a cool $759 million in just 3 years for its efforts. While avoiding enemy fire, their work has become increasingly dangerous – and yet, critically necessary – as Coalition forces struggle rebuild cities, put down warring forces, and stabilize the chaotic nation. Schools, oils wells, and other public infrastructure have relied on IAP for the electricity needed to operate. With Iraq slowly beginning to stabilize, International American Products is holding out hope that its job will eventually become less treacherous.
London-based Erinys has so far scored $136 million for its effort in securing Iraq’s precious oil reserves. Riding the coattails of its considerable mining, petroleum, and construction expertise, the company has already made considerable headway toward this critically important goal. In the space of just 16 months, Erinys successfully trained, equipped, and mobilized an all-Iraqi guard force of nearly 20,000 to protect the nation’s oil pipeline from terrorist attack or sabotage. With crude oil prices skyrocketing and no end in sight, Erinys looks to have its hands full for years to come.
Fluor scored a monster $1.1 billion contract in 2004 to build, service, and manage water/sewage systems in Iraq. The deal is actually a joint venture between Fluor (a 44,800 employee company based on Aliso Viejo) and London’s AMEC, PLC and actually encompasses two separate contracts. The first – worth $600 million – obligates Fluor to build a water distribution infrastructure and cleaning system for Iraq’s major cities. A second $500 million deal will have the lucrative joint venture performing similar tasks in other, less hostile regions of the country.
Perini (controlled by financier Richard Blum) is one of the more controversial companies to have scored big-time Iraq war money. That’s because Blum’s wife, Senator Dianne Feinstein, appears to have used her seat on the Military Construction Appropriations subcomittee to steer the $650 million environmental cleanup deal in his favor. This has lead to outrage and cries for conflict of interest investigations among those in the media, as well as Feinstein’s peers in Congress. Feinstein has also neglected to comment on this potential conflict of interest. This has lead to what Metroactive.com calls an “omission [that] has called her ethical standards into question.”
10. URS Corporation
Another widely disparaged, Blum-controlled company that has profited from Iraq is URS Corporation. Long known as one of the nation’s major defense contractors, San Francisco-based URS has collected $792 million in environmental cleanup fees in Iraq war zones. As with Perini, both Blum and Feinstein have come under intense scrutiny to answer questions about the apparent conflict of interest inherent in Feinstein helping to secure such an exorbitant government contract for her investment banker husband. Both Blum and Feinstein have refused to produce copies of the ethics commitee’s rulings on Perini and URS, leading to considerable suspicion.