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Published: Sunday, 4/24/2005

The Cheney link

A NEW State Department report to Congress earlier this month cited the "poor performance" in Iraq of the Kellogg, Brown & Root subsidiary of the Texas-based firm Halliburton.

The Department of Defense had previously questioned $212 million of $1.69 billion in charges that KBR submitted for payment for fuel imports into Iraq in 2003 and 2004. The poor performance this time involved major cost overruns on a $1.2 billion KBR contract to repair Iraq's southern oil fields.

Last week Vice President Dick Cheney, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Halliburton for the five years preceding his election, released his 2004 tax return. It showed $194,852 in deferred compensation for Mr. Cheney from Halliburton, only slightly less than the $203,000 he earned as vice president.

Although Mr. Cheney would insist correctly that he does not benefit from Halliburton's Iraq war government contracts - he gets paid however Halliburton does, unless it were to go bankrupt - it is nonetheless a fact that Mr. Cheney's income from Halliburton alone would put him in the top few percent of American wage earners.

No one is asking Mr. Cheney to take his $194,852 from Halliburton and give it to the poor. At the same time, the coincidence of a company that pays the vice president a lot of money each year while chiseling on U.S. government contracts isn't exactly complimentary - to him or to Halliburton.

Too bad the vice president's former associates don't feel compelled to give the government quality work, even if only because of their continuing financial connection to Dick Cheney.

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