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Does Nigeria Have a Case Against Dick Cheney?

Africa Legal Brief

Monday, 13 December 2010 20:42

Nigerian officials have indicted former Vice President Dick Cheney for bribing the Nigerian government in the ’90s. The accusation stems from Cheney’s reign as CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. Last year, a subsidiary of Halliburton, plead guilty in U.S. courts to paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 in order to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Niger Delta. While a number of liberals are salivating at the notion of Cheney locked up in a Nigerian prison, few predict that the U.S. will ever agree to extradite him. Additionally, it doesn’t help that Nigeria happens to be one of the most corrupt governments in the world. Here’s what reporters and bloggers are making of the indictment:

* This Is an Important Move, writes Juan Cole at Informed Comment:

That Nigeria is moving forward with this prosecution is symbolically important … So far Bush and Cheney, who are guilty of a long list of crimes against international and US domestic law, have had impunity from even so much as firm condemnation by any international body. It is not impossible that a corruption charge against Cheney could chip a chink in that so far impenetrable armor. At least their reputations should be tarnished!

* Here’s What Nigeria Is Basing This Off  “Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission pointed specifically,” writes Tom Diemer at Politics Daily, “at a former Halliburton subsidiary, Houston-based KBR, which pleaded guilty last year in U.S. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes in Nigeria for plant contracts between 1995 and 2004.” In that case, KBR paid $402 million in fines and Halliburton paid $177 million, adds CNN.

* This Could Be Political, writes Jon Gambrell at The Associated Press:

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan faces a coming primary election in the nation’s ruling party against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Critics have tried to connect Abubakar to this bribery case in the past and the charges come as the election looms. Abubakar has denied any involvement.

* Locals Are Skeptical, observes Christian Purefoy at CNN:

Many observers in Nigeria regard the move as a publicity stunt by the commission ahead of national elections this April and a symbolic effort to display resolve against government corruption. The agency has had limited success in getting successful prosecutions and hasn’t charged any high-profile people since its top commissioner was removed from the body in 2007.

* Cheney’s Lawyer Is Full of It, writes Marcy Wheeler at Fire Dog Lake. She responds to Cheney attorney Terence O’Donnell who said the former vice president was innocent because US investigators “found no suggestions of any impropriety” when they looked into the matter during the Bush years. Wheeler writes:

O’Donnell suggests that because the US conducted its own investigation–mostly during a period when Cheney remained the most powerful man in government and when DOJ was clearly politicized–then Nigeria should be unable to do so, too.

* Don’t Get Your Hopes Up, Nigeria  “Whether or not the U.S. authorities will honor the Interpol warrant issued by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Nigeria remains to be seen,” writes Pratap Chatterjee at The Daily Beast. “But, somehow, I don’t see Cheney agreeing to leave Ballintober, his nine-acre spread in St. Michael’s that includes extensive gardens, ornamental pools, and spectacular views from a large, glass-walled waterside room, for the prison cells of Nigeria.”

* Odd, Coming from Nigeria, writes Scott Baldauf at The Christian Science Monitor:

The indictment of a major US political and corporate figure marks a tough new step for Nigeria’s relatively untested anticorruption commission. Nigeria ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranked 134th out of 178 countries by anticorruption group Transparency International.

SOURCE

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Nigeria charges former US VP Cheney over bribery

By JON GAMBRELL

The Associated Press  Via- The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 3:50 PM

LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency on Tuesday charged former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney over a bribery scheme involving oil services firm Halliburton Co. during time he served as its top official, a spokesman said.

The charges stem from a case involving as much as $180 million allegedly paid in bribes to Nigerian officials, said Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Halliburton and other firms allegedly paid the bribes to win a contract to build a $6 billion liquefied natural gas plant in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, he said.

Terrence O’Donnell, a lawyer representing Cheney, denied the allegations.

“The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated that joint venture extensively and found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton,” O’Donnell’s said in a statement sent to The Associated Press. “Any suggestion of misconduct on his part, made now, years later, is entirely baseless.”

The Halliburton case involves its former subsidiary KBR, a major engineering and construction services firm based in Houston. In February 2009, KBR Inc. pleaded guilty in U.S. federal court to authorizing and paying bribes from 1995 to 2004 for the plant contracts in Nigeria.

KBR, which split from Halliburton in 2007, agreed to pay more than $400 million in fines in the plea deal.

Halliburton spokeswoman Tara Mullee Agard said the company had not seen the new charges Tuesday, but insisted the company had nothing to do with the project.

Babafemi said Halliburton, its Nigerian subsidiary, Halliburton CEO David J. Lesar, former KBR CEO Albert “Jack” Stanley and current KBR CEO William Utt all face similar charges in the case. The spokesman said each charge in the 16-count indictment carried as much as three years in prison.

Heather L. Browne, a KBR spokeswoman, said in a statement that Utt joined the firm in 2006, two years after prosecutors say the bribery case concluded.

“The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame in this matter,” Browne’s statement read. “KBR will continue to vigorously defend itself and its executives, if necessary, in this matter.”

Stanley pleaded guilty in 2008 to federal bribery charges for his role in the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Jan. 19.

MORE HERE

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KBR Statement Regarding Latest Nigerian FCPA Charges

Houston, Texas – December 7, 2010 – Recent press reports name KBR Chairman, President and CEO William P. Utt in the latest apparent charges to be filed by the Nigerian Government. The issues related to this latest set of charges involve violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) that occurred between 1994 and 2004.

William P. Utt joined KBR in February 2006 and the remainder of KBR’s executive team was appointed thereafter. No one on KBR’s current executive team was involved in the FCPA violations. KBR in no way condones or tolerates illegal or unethical behavior. Conducting our business with the utmost integrity is at the core of the work we perform each day.

The actions of the Nigerian government suggest that its officials are wildly and wrongly asserting blame in this matter.

KBR will continue to vigorously defend itself and its executives if necessary, in this matter.

MORE HERE

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Nigeria to Charge Dick Cheney in Pipeline Bribery Case

December 01, 2010, 5:05 PM EST

Bloomberg Businessweek

By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo

(Updates with Eni comment in seventh paragraph.)

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) — Nigeria will file charges against former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and officials from five foreign companies including Halliburton Co. over a $180 million bribery scandal, a prosecutor at the anti-graft agency said.

Indictments will be lodged in a Nigerian court “in the next three days,” Godwin Obla, prosecuting counsel at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said in an interview today at his office in Abuja, the capital. An arrest warrant for Cheney “will be issued and transmitted through Interpol,” the world’s biggest international police organization, he said.

Peter Long, Cheney’s spokesman, said he couldn’t immediately comment when contacted today and said he would respond later to an e-mailed request for comment.

Obla said charges will be filed against current and former chief executive officers of Halliburton, including Cheney, who was CEO from 1995 to 2000, and its former unit KBR Inc., based in Houston, Texas; Technip SA, Europe’s second-largest oilfield- services provider; Eni SpA, Italy’s biggest oil company; and Saipem Construction Co., a unit of Eni. Obla didn’t identify the former officials whom he said held office when the alleged bribes were paid.

Last week, Nigeria arrested at least 23 officials from companies including Halliburton, Saipem, Technip and a former subsidiary of Panalpina Welttransport Holding AG in connection with alleged illegal payments to Nigerian officials. Those detained were all freed on bail on Nov. 29.

MORE HERE

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Halliburton and Nigeria:
A Chronology of Key Events in the Unfolding Bribery Scandal

1988: Dresser Industries acquires M.W. Kellogg, ten years before Dresser merges with Halliburton.

September 1994: M.W. Kellogg and three other companies form a partnership known as TSKJ, incorporated in Medeira, Portugal. Each partner owns a 25 percent equal share. Kellogg’s three other partners are Technip of France, Italy’s Snamprogetti, and Japan Gasoline Corp. The partnership submits a bid to Nigeria LNG to build a natural gas plant in Nigeria. Nigeria LNG is owned by the Nigerian government and Royal Dutch/Shell Group. TSKJ’s $2 billion bid is not immediately accepted even though it was 5 percent lower than a bid submitted by competitor, Bechtel Group, Inc.

November 1994: As TSKJ awaits Nigeria’s decision on the bid, Wojciech Chodan, an executive at Kellogg and later a consultant for Kellogg Brown & Root, meets with London lawyer Jefferey Tesler, who is known for his contacts and friendly relations with the Nigerian government, including its dictator Gen. Sani Abacha. During the meeting, they discussed channeling $40 million to Gen. Abacha through Mr. Tesler’s firm Tri-Star, based in Gibralter, Spain.

March 1995: TSKJ formally hires Mr. Tesler as agent; TSKJ’s bid has still not been accepted by Nigeria LNG. Mr. Tesler’s employment contract is signed by an M.W. Kellogg executive on behalf of the TSKJ partnership. Mr. Tesler had been working on behalf of TSKJ prior to March 1995 and the employment contract was given to Mr. Tesler as a reward for his prodding of Nigerian officials. The employment contract provided that Mr. Tesler would be paid $60 million if Nigeria awarded the construction contract to TSKJ. Mr. Tesler’s Tri-Star was contracted to receive at least $160 million in five agreements signed between 1995 and 2002, and the funds were directed to bank accounts in Switzerland and Monaco.

March 20, 1995: Dan Etete replaces Nigeria’s former oil minister, who has a falling out with the dicatator, Gen. Abacha. “In an interrogation of Mr. Tesler, a French magistrate described the London lawyer’s transfer of $2.5 million into Swiss bank accounts held by Mr. Etete under a false name between 1996 and 1998. Mr. Tesler confirmed making the payments but told the magistrate that the money was for an investment in offshore oil exploration leases in Nigeria and that he wasn’t aware the accounts belonged to Mr. Etete, according to people familiar with the interrogation.” (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 29, 2004.)

June 1995: Albert Jack Stanley is promoted to president and chief operating officer of M.W. Kellogg after serving as executive vice president since 1991 and various positions since 1975.

August 1995: Dick Cheney is hired as CEO of Halliburton, three years before he directs the merger of Halliburton with Dresser Industries and M.W. Kellogg. He serves as CEO until August of 2000.

MORE HERE

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Crooks & Liars- By Heather Monday Jun 21, 2010 7:00am

Chickenhawk Cheney Mini-Me Liz and her buddy Bloody I’m-never-right-about-anything-Bill Kristol are asked about the jobs and stimulus package that was blocked in the Senate when Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson voted with the Republicans to kill it. Of course Cheney and Kristol use the opportunity to fear monger over the deficit and to repeat the lie that Americans’ primary concern is the size of the debt rather than the economy and jobs.

As Juan Williams correctly tried to point out, that is not what most Americans are concerned about. Digby has more on how these deficit fetishists in our print media and not just Fox are pushing the same meme.

Replaying the game of 2003:

Ben Somberg catches the Washington Post publishing lazy, nonfactual reporting. Again:

If Congress doesn’t provide additional stimulus spending, economists inside and outside the administration warn that the nation risks a prolonged period of high unemployment or, more frightening, a descent back into recession. But a competing threat — the exploding federal budget deficit — seems to be resonating more powerfully in Congress and among voters.

Somberg writes:

[I]s this notion supported by what the polling actually says? No. Not even close.

A Pew Research / National Journal poll from early June asked “Which of the following national economic issues worries you most?” Number one was “job situation” with 41%. “Federal budget deficit” got 23%.

An NBC / Wall Street Journal poll from early May asked “Please tell me which one of these items you think should be the top priority for the federal government.” Sure enough, “job creation and economic growth” won with 35%. “The deficit and government spending” got 20%.

A Fox News poll also in early May got even more dramatic results. “Economy and jobs” topped the priority list with 47%, while “deficit, spending” garnered only 15%.

A CBS / NYT poll in early April found 27% prioritizing “jobs”, 27% the “economy” and 5% prioritizing “budget deficit/national debt.”

The only recent poll that gives the slightest hint of support for the Post’s thesis is the USA Today / Gallup poll from late May (not even their newest). Participants were asked “How serious a threat to the future well-being of the United States do you consider each of the following.” For “federal government debt”, 40% said extremely serious, 39% very serious, and 15% somewhat serious. For “unemployment”, 33% said extremely serious, 50% said very serious, and 15% said somewhat serious. If you use only the “extremely serious” numbers, you get 7% more for the debt. Greg Marx at CJR makes the case that this poll, nevermind its headline, should not be read as some sort of overwhelming evidence of a shifted public view.

And in fact a newer Gallup poll, from a week ago, asking “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” finds the economy and jobs on top. “Economy in general” gets 28%, “Unemployment/Jobs” gets 21%, and “Federal budget deficit” gets 7%.

I don’t know where this reporter got this information, but it is wrong and it requires a correction. The public is NOT more upset by the deficit than unemployment and to the extent they are upset about the deficit at all, it comes from the Big Lie that the deficit is responsible for the economic problems we face.

I have a fairly clear idea about why the powers that be are pushing this line, but why the press is doing it is another question. Just as they slanted their news and analysis in the run-up to the Iraq war, they are doing the same thing with respect to this deficit fetish. Read on…

There’s little doubt why anyone at Fox would be pushing this. They’re in the same camp with the Alan Simpson’s of the world that would rather destroy Social Security than see taxes raised on the rich. And of course good little war mongers like Cheney and Kristol would rather see our social safety nets destroyed rather than one penny being taken away from the military industrial complex.

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Conservatives’ Real Agenda Revealed at CPAC Conference: Love of Torture and Hatred of Obama

Day One of this year’s conservafest included a surprise visit by torture advocate #1 Dick Cheney, and the crowd went wild for him.

February 19, 2010 |

At first, the opening roster of speakers at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference sounded a common theme: How many ways can conservatives — a term re-purposed to describe the Tea Party movement — threaten the establishment of the Republican Party? Given the exuberant response of the CPAC crowd to those who expressed it, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had walked into a gathering of a coherent movement.

Then Dick Cheney, the former vice president, a guardian of the Republican establishment, took the stand in a surprise appearance, and the crowd went wild. When he teasingly said their reception had him thinking about running for office again, they cheered. When he immediately dashed that hope, their deflation was audible.

The speakers preceding the Cheney apparition brought the crowd to their feet decrying government spending and bailouts. The gathering had its own internal, if paranoid, logic. Yet when Cheney appeared, the profligacy and bailout schemes of the Bush administration seemed long forgotten. Never mind that George W. Bush, Cheney’s boss and protege, increased government spending more than any of the six presidents preceding him, including LBJ, according to Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center. (De Rugy, a former research analyst at the Cato Institute and former fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, continues: “In his last term in office, President Bush increased discretionary outlays by an estimated 48.6 percent. During his eight years in office, President Bush spent almost twice as much as his predecessor, President Clinton. Adjusted for inflation, in eight years, President Clinton increased the federal budget by 11 percent. In eight years, President Bush increased it by a whopping 104 percent.”)

MORE HERE

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Joe Biden Tears Into Dick Cheney On ‘Meet The Press’ (VIDEO)

Huff Po– First Posted: 02-14-10 02:05 AM   |   Updated: 02-14-10 10:32 AM

UPDATE, 10:15 AM ET: See details from Cheney’s interview below.

In a much-anticipated Sunday showdown between Vice President Joe Biden and his predecessor Dick Cheney, Biden has drawn first blood.

Asked to respond to a range of harsh attacks on the Obama administration leveled by Cheney, Biden first gathered himself. “Let me choose my words carefully here,” he told David Gregory in a pre-taped interview for Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”

Then Biden let loose with several minutes of his most pointed criticism of Cheney since the 2008 presidential campaign, when Biden claimed that Cheney had “done more harm than any other single elected official in memory in terms of shredding the Constitution.”

Speaking to Gregory, Biden charged at least four times that Cheney was “rewrit[ing] history” with his recent attacks, and declared that President Obama has amassed a success rate in countering terrorism that “exceeds anything that occurred in the last Administration.”

Cheney will appear on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Watch video or read the full transcript below.

TRANSCRIPT & MORE HERE

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Keith Olbermann blames Bush, Cheney for 9/11 attacks

Raw Story- By Stephen C. Webster
Saturday, February 13th, 2010 — 3:11 pm

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 changed American politics forever. But in spite of the warning signs raised by the U.S. intelligence community, the Bush administration seemed preoccupied with other issues, aloof to the alleged threat until the day both towers fell.

Why then, MSNBC’s liberal host Keith Olbermann asked on Friday night, is it “taboo” to blame the Bush administration for allowing the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on their watch?

His conclusion: For their lack of vigilance and because they “did not prioritize,” President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are to be faulted for the attacks.

RELATED: O’Donnell shouts down ‘enhanced interrogation’ defender

Provoked by former Bush and Rumsfeld speechwriter Marc Thiessen’s allegation that President Obama is “inviting” another attack, Olbermann noted that when President Bush was warned by the CIA that terrorists were targeting the United States and may be planning to use airliners, Bush replied, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now” and proceeded to do nothing about it.

Joining him in the discussion was Lawrence O’Donnell, who had been cut off earlier that day by MSNBC’s resident conservative Joe Scarborough in the midst of a tirade in response to Thiessen’s claims.

O’Donnell, an MSNBC political analyst and former chief of staff to the Senate Finance Committee, held nothing back in his second shot at the former speechwriter’s assessment of Bush-era terror politics.

“Mr. Thiessen also claimed that torture, which, of course, he will not recognize by that word, saved Los Angeles from its own 9/11,” Olbermann began. “Is this that Liberty Tower, Library Tower, Liberia Tower crap again? Is that what he’s talking about? Is this something else they’ve made up?”

“It’s a very wearisome story that they refused to put away,” O’Donnell began. “It has been debunked time and time again. Timothy Noah on Slate, every time it comes up, he very patiently lays it out again as he did today, that the arrest of the ring leader of this so-called plot occurred the year before the waterboarding occurred of Sheikh Mohammed, and which they now claimed we got the information to stop the plot that had already been stopped. And the FBI has said this is ludicrous, that it did not happen. The FBI doesn’t believe the so-called plot even could have been carried out.”

At the time, intelligence officials attributed the claim of a foiled attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles — which Bush called the “Liberty Tower” — to political posturing, suggesting it had been nothing more than talk.

“The FBI has always thought that this was not a serious threat and whatever it was, was stopped a year before the torture that produced the evidence according to this guy,” O’Donnell said.

“Why is it OK in polite company to say Mr. Obama is inviting attack, but you still can`t say that Mr. Bush not only invited attack but he sent the night watchman home?” Olbermann asked.

“Keith, it’s unconscionable to me,” his guest replied. “You know, I mentioned his oath of office to him because I took an oath of office to work in the Senate. It changes your relationship to the institution and to the government. And there are things after that, the places you don’t go. You don’t go to the spot that says this sitting president of the United States is trying to get this country attacked. You don’t go where Dick Cheney went in the 2004 campaign, saying John Kerry would allow an attack. You don’t go to those places. And it is just unconscionable to see someone do it after taking an oath of office to serve this country.”

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, broadcast Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.

This video is from MSNBC’s Morning Joe, broadcast Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.

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