News Release

* Cheney Scandal * Tauzin/PHARMA * Candidates and War Powers


Chatterjee, recently back from Iraq, is program director at Corpwatch. He said today: “Newsweek reported Wednesday that the Justice Department has opened up an inquiry into whether Halliburton paid $180 million in bribes to win a contract in Nigeria when Dick Cheney was chairman of the company…. Last year Cheney received two dollars from Halliburton for every dollar he earns as vice president by taking advantage of loopholes in the tax code while the company made $8 billion from military contracts in Iraq…. Meanwhile, on my recent trip to investigate Halliburton in Iraq, we found that Halliburton was overcharging the military for both food services to American soldiers as well as supplying gasoline to Iraq. Indeed, Halliburton has a history of using dubious tactics to profit from contracts. The company was founded in 1919 with technology stolen from the Perkins Oil Well Cementing company; it has been found guilty of fixing the prices of marine construction in the oil industry over a 16-year period in the Gulf of Mexico, paying out over $90 million in claims and fines in the 1970s; and just last month when they admitted that their staff took bribes in Kuwait for oil contracts. The company has also admitted in 2002 that its subsidiary in Nigeria attempted to bribe a tax inspector for $2.4 million….”
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Legislative representative for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, Holman said today: “Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), who had a key role in writing the Medicare prescription drug law, has received an offer to represent the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. This is the drug industry’s main lobbying group, which was heavily involved in crafting the recently passed legislation for a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. The legislation contains key provisions beneficial to the drug industry; it subsidizes private insurers to provide prescription drug coverage to seniors — thereby increasing demand for drugs — and also bars the Medicare administrator from bargaining for lower drug prices and effectively prohibits the reimportation of lower-priced drugs from Canada…. The job offer is rumored to be worth $2.5 million, likely the largest compensation package on record for anyone at a trade association.”
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Hassberg works with the War and Law League which, with the San Francisco Examiner, has conducted a presidential candidate survey regarding war-making powers. While the Constitution gives to Congress the power to declare war, no war has been declared since World War II. Among the candidates responding: John Edwards and John Kerry say that a president may initiate military action. Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton say only Congress may make such a decision. Any presidential use of nuclear weapons is illegal according to Kucinich and Sharpton; the other candidates do not reject it under all circumstances. Only Kerry sees implicit authority for a president to end a treaty. Edwards and Kerry, who both voted for Congress’s October 2002 resolution on the use of armed force against Iraq, believe that the invasion of Iraq has been lawful. Kucinich (who voted against it) and Sharpton disagree. Wesley Clark and Howard Dean did not respond. A number of legal scholars are available for interviews through the War and Law League.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167