Halliburton apparently does now, as this report from the Houston Chronicle indicates. And to answer the important question, no, Dubai doesn’t. Extradite everyone we ask for, that is.
Perhaps Dubai will extradite Halliburton executives in the future, and Halliburton accountants and administrators and operators, too. We will surely need their testimony, and their bad selves, for all those future criminal charges here in the United States. Maybe Dubai will, maybe Dubai won’t.
If I were Halliburton’s CEO Dave Lesar, with less than two years left in a Cheney administration, I’d move all the junk in my trunk to Dubai, and quick. Time is money. And there could be a lot of time served given the way Halliburton has "earned" their government paycheck over the past six years.
This isn’t about the latest top felon in Washington, Irving "Scooter" Libby, although I can’t avoid seeing some link between his important but mild conviction to the Halliburton move. After all, the Libby trial has been ongoing for some time. As it turns out, regular people really can follow a confusing rabbit trail, and fairly and justly convict a nice-looking, well-mannered guy called Scooter. I predict après Scooter, le deluge for the less likable members of this corrupt administration, and their BFFs.
It is certainly gratifying to see Scooter convicted by a jury of his peers for lying to law enforcement officials. It is extremely disgusting, and unfortunately typical, if one believes former Nixon counsel John Dean (and I do), to see a guy lie to protect the people to which he owes his career.
It is also perturbing and frightening to understand Scooter Libby, a lying, felonious "public servant," is nearly guaranteed a pardon, and probably a George W. Bush Presidential Freedom Medal to boot. Libby was a good soldier in the public fraud leading to a war of choice waged by the biggest and best military in the world against one of the weakest and least capable for no legal or honest reason. Libby helped foment the destruction of Iraq, something he believed in and wanted desperately, a destruction that proceeded apace, and was successful beyond any neoconservatives’ wildest dreams.
Some neoconservatives dreamed of a new, larger and awe-inspiring military presence in the heart of the region, able to act in immediate response to actions against Israel (or our own inconveniently placed forces) by any of the "unholy seven" — that list of seven countries the Bush-Cheney administration would "take out" in five years. Others, including many military leaders, dreamed of grand massive new bases, and untrammeled air, land and naval training areas in the western and southern deserts of the former country of Iraq. Still others, including many large government-connected corporations, like Halliburton, dreamed of U.S. government approved, arranged, and facilitated contracts (with U.S. military security 24/7, no charge) while doing a booming business repairing and operating the potentially productive oil fields of Iraq, and of other parts of the region.
The dreams all came true, unless you were an Iraqi, or an American soldier or Marine, or perhaps a parent or brother or sister, or spouse or child of someone who gave mobility, sanity or life for the Bush-Cheney project in Iraq. The deals, the bases and the contracts are nothing new. Just a little something — something patriotic Americans back home can think of as a "freedom discount." Others call it imperialism, still others corporate capitalism on a global scale. Some simply call it immoral, illegal, and criminal.
Imperialism is illegal by any count, because it is force, and theft, and murder, because it is unjust and hateful and contemptuous. Because it is greedy and ugly, its purveyors and its spawn fare poorly in courts of law.
In an age where most Americans today understand exactly what as been done in their name by the current occupant of the White House, charges will flow slowly at first, and then flood the dockets. Convictions will follow. The Libby jury, as hand-picked as any jury where the defense is highly paid and the defendant establishment-borne, concluded that Libby lied. Why he lied, they don’t know for sure. But I’d bet many on the jury have some good ideas of what the whole thing was about.
Halliburton is correct to jump ship to Dubai, a place proud of its independence and freedom of trade, as well as money laundering capacities. The UAE aspires to be the Switzerland of the region, and perhaps replace Switzerland entirely in an age where it is oil, weapons, and drugs, not gold, that constrain, or fail to constrain, the paper dollar.
It will cost Halliburton a small amount of money and a lot of bad press to move their headquarters to Dubai. This move may indicate less a fear of prosecution and tax liability at home than a sincere desire to participate in an unhampered marketplace, or even a belief (well-justified) that just as Jay Garner stated in early 2004, we are in Iraq militarily for 20 to 30 years, the long haul, with primo military bases no matter who is elected the next American president.
In the George W. Bush lexicon, "Freedom isn’t free." And freedom for Halliburton will cost dearly, but the price must be paid. So Dubai it is.
In his second inaugural address only a few years ago, curious George asked this question: "Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?"
The jury is still out on the first question, if only because George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are inadvertently creating new libertarians at an unprecedented rate. However, the mainstream media’s breathless reporting from Washington and Houston confirms the answer to the second.
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for MilitaryWeek.com, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com and Liberty and Power. Archives of her American Forum radio program can be accessed here and here. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here.