One If By Land

Progressive political commentary, analysis, and opinion. Showing no mercy to Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. "A great democracy must be progressive or it will soon cease to be a great democracy." Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, October 03, 2004

THE CASE FOR TREASON AGAINST DICK CHENEY

THE CASE FOR TREASON AGAINST DICK CHENEY

Article III Section 3 of the constitution states: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
It is the intention of the author to prove in the clearest manner possible that Dick Cheney is in fact guilty of multiple counts of treason as defined by the constitution for acts committed while acting as CEO of Halliburton Co. and in his continued support of that company. It is not the purpose of this piece to reiterate all of the numerous accusations against Dick Cheney or against Halliburton on other grounds- accounting fraud, bribery in Nigeria and Kazakhstan, use of slave labor in Myanmar, insider trading, nepotism, etc. I will not attempt here to make the case that the coup commonly known as the election, or selection, of 2000 in which Dick Cheney was a leading player and beneficiary was treason. Nor will I delve into conspiracy theories- Halliburton was meant to have a share in the Caspian Sea pipeline unsuccessfully negotiated with the Taliban in the months before September 11; some Halliburton subsidiaries have been connected to the Saudi Bin Laden group; Cheney’s defining act as CEO of Halliburton was to buy the liability ridden Dresser, a company connected to the Bushes from the time of Prescott Bush’s well documented trading with the Nazis during World War II. The entire scope of this piece will be limited to presenting a clear, logical case that Cheney and his underlings at Halliburton are guilty of treason as defined in Article III Section 3 of the constitution for trading with Iran, Iraq, and Libya in violation of US sanctions, and for ongoing actions undermining the war effort in Iraq.
It is true that these are not new allegations. They have been presented before by a number of journalists. Until now, however, nobody has seriously contested the justifications offered by Cheney and Halliburton. It has merely been accepted that Cheney and Halliburton’s actions were legal, if morally reprehensible, because they were able to exploit loopholes in US Sanction laws. This defense cannot stand up to real scrutiny, as this piece will prove.
First, let us review the charges against Cheney and Halliburton. Dick Cheney became CEO of Halliburton in 1995 and remained in that position until he left to run for the vice presidency in 2000. He continues to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in deferred compensation from Halliburton: U.S. Office of Government Ethics forms signed by Cheney on May 15, 2002 list Cheney’s 2001 income from Halliburton as $56,717 in “Sr. deferred comp (SEDC) Payout” and 147,579 in “Elective Deferred Salary Payout.” A press release from his own office dated April 11, 2003 states his Halliburton earnings at $162,392 in 2002, as compared to the $190,134 he received in government salary in that year. One year later, in 2003, his deferred compensation increased again, to $178,437. Add to this stock and options worth $10 million, which he was allowed to retain against company policy forbidding his early retirement on pay of the loss of his stock and options. It is unclear whether those stocks and options are part of, or in addition to the $20 retirement package he received on leaving Halliburton. Compare the millions in Halliburton largess to his paltry, less than two hundred thousand dollars a year vice presidential salary and it’s easy to see where Cheney’s loyalty really lies. Perhaps a twenty million dollar a year raise could make a patriot out of Mr. Cheney.
Until recently Halliburton continued to receive lucrative no-bid contracts from the Pentagon. Despite repeated denials (lies) on the parts of Cheney, Halliburton, and the Pentagon itself, a recently leaked pentagon memo proves Halliburton’s Iraq reconstruction contracts to have been awarded due to the direct intervention of the vice-president’s office, making him complicit in any ongoing acts of treason being committed by his former company. During Cheney’s tenure at Halliburton the company was involved in trading with three countries listed as sponsors of terrorism: Iran, Iraq, and Libya.
Libya: Halliburton’s Libyan dealings began before Cheney’s term as CEO. In the early ‘90s Halliburton plead guilty to criminal charges of violating the ban on exports to Libya for the shipment of six pulse neutron generators to Libya via Italy by a former subsidiary, Halliburton Logging Services. A pulse neutron generator is a piece of oil drilling equipment which may also be used to detonate nuclear weapons. Halliburton was ordered to pay $1.2 million in fines and $2.6 million in civil penalties. Although the worst violations, or at least those to which Halliburton was forced to confess and be penalized for, happened before Cheney became CEO Halliburton continues to do business in Libya in violation of US sanction to this day, and did so throughout Cheney’s time directing the company. It is difficult to believe that the CEO of a company convicted of and fined $3.8 million for violations of sanction laws could have been unaware of the continuation of those violations.
Iran: Unlike its Libyan dealings, Halliburton began doing business with Iran during Cheney’s tenure as CEO. Halliburton’s business in Iran is conducted through a Cayman Island subsidiary, Halliburton Products & Services Limited. A Cayman Island subsidiary of a company widely accused of using Enron style shell companies (which are often based in the Cayman Islands) with its headquarters in Dubai active only in Iran is in all probability a shell company set up to look like a foreign subsidiary. Halliburton has also admitted to having three British and one Sweden based subsidiaries which conduct business in Iran (the number of Halliburton’s foreign subsidiaries increased from 9 to 44 under Cheney’s tenure). An investigation by the office of Senator Frank Lautenberg turned up documents sent from Kala, the British subsidiary of the Iranian National Oil Company (NIOC) to the Halliburton subsidiary in 1997 and 1998. Could Cheney have been unaware of the initiation of business with terrorist sponsor Iran during his term as CEO? It seems rather unlikely, considering that his name appears on the list of attendees of a May 1996 conference held in Dallas titled, “Iran in Transition”. Halliburton continues to do business in Iran, earning $80 million there in 2003.
Halliburton’s Iranian business is currently under investigation by the SEC. The foreign subsidiary defense may not be enough to save them in this case, because according to the web site of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control the specific sanction laws against Iran include the following passage: “No U.S. person may approve or facilitate the entry into or performance of transactions or contracts with Iran by a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. firm that the U.S. person is precluded from performing directly. Similarly, no U.S. person may facilitate such transactions by unaffiliated foreign persons.” This clause is specifically designed to prevent the use of shell companies in dealing with Iran, particularly in oil field service, and violations may result in fines of up to $500,000 and 10 years in prison. If the republicans lose the coming election (and fail to seize power again the way they did after losing the last election) this could pose a real danger to Mr. Cheney.
Iraq: It is Cheney’s Iraq dealings which are most clearly chargeable as treason. Halliburton’s subversion of U.S. sanction laws against Iraq are all the more insidious in that as secretary of defense in the first Bush administration Dick Cheney was instrumental in writing the very laws he would violate on assuming his role as CEO of Halliburton. Furthermore, it is these crimes which have most demonstrable aided our enemies, and have undoubtedly funded the purchase of arms and munitions which have been and are yet being used against our soldiers- 0ver 1000 dead and more than 7000 grievously wounded- and counting.
Cheney oversaw Halliburton’s acquisition of two subsidiaries- Dresser Rand and Ingersoll Dresser Pump in 1998 in a joint venture with Ingersoll-Rand. Both subsidiaries had been trading with Iraq through a French affiliate since 1997, and continued to do so through 2000, when Halliburton sold its stake in both companies. United Nations documents and oil industry executive estimate that the total business conducted by the two subsidiaries amounted to $73 million; with $30 million worth of new contracts being signed after Cheney took the helm as CEO. Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” on July 30, 2000, Cheney denied that Halliburton or its subsidiaries traded with Iraq (he lied). Three weeks later, contradicted by a spokesman from Halliburton itself, he changed his story, saying that he didn’t know about the trades. According to James E. Perella, former chairman of Ingersoll-Rand, this is also a lie. Senior Halliburton officials have also contradicted Cheney’s denial. After all, how could the CEO of the preeminent oil field services company in the world, a life long oil man, who had helped to write the laws- and the loopholes therein- not know anything about $73 million dollars worth of contracts with Iraq gained through a joint venture initiated under his direct supervision? Not only is it impossible that he did not know about the Iraq deals, but it is more than likely that they were the very reason he initiated the acquisition of the two subsidiaries in the first place.
None of these accusations are new, and must be familiar to many readers. The final defense offered by the vice-usurper is also familiar to many. It is claimed on behalf of Halliburton in general and Cheney in particular that the trades conducted with Iraq were not violations of U.S. sanction laws because they were conducted by foreign subsidiaries, not by Halliburton itself. Unlike the sanction laws prohibiting trading with Iran, which Halliburton continues to violate, the Iraq sanction laws had no clause allowing sanctions to be subverted through the use of a foreign intermediary. Who was it, one wonders, who forgot to write that clause into this particular set of sanction laws? Perhaps, the author of those laws who would later make millions violating them? Nonetheless, the law was not technically violated, no matter how many tons of explosives, RPGs and small arms that money may have been used to stockpile for use against our troops.
Here, then, is why the defense is constitutionally invalid, and the reason why Cheney and his Halliburton underlings are guilty of treason as defined in the constitution. Article III Section 3 of the constitution clearly states that, “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against Them, or in adhering to Their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Here then are two clearly defined modes of treason. Cheney, of course, did not levy war against the United States (or, for that matter, against the North Vietnamese, but his cowardice is a separate issue). Did he then adhere to Hussein’s Iraq, giving them aid and comfort? . Conducting such lucrative business with a regime against the will of the world’s only great superpower must constitute “adhering” to that enemy. Especially when the vital nature of prohibited oilfield services to sanction starved Iraq is taken into account. For a poor, sanction starved regime to receive $73 million dollars worth of services, services which allowed the regime to stay in power and to stockpile the very weapons even now being used to murder our soldiers and marines, this goes well beyond “Aid and Comfort”. Without the proceeds generated by those services, Saddam Hussein may have fallen from power without a fight. Surely, he found Halliburton’s Aid very Comforting indeed, under the circumstances. Even if his regime had been able to remain in power, he could never have afforded the vast stockpiles of guerilla small arms and explosives, or paid the wielders of those arms. One can only speculate how many of our young men and women died by weapons purchased through money generated by the Aid and Comfort provided to Saddam Hussein’s regime by Dick Cheney’s Halliburton; how many Fedayeen salaries were paid via Dallas, Texas.
Nor may it be argued that Iraq was not an enemy at the time of the trades in question, even if they were an enemy of our own choosing who posed no immediate threat to our country. After all, we had just fought one war with Iraq during which Cheney served as secretary of defense. Our airmen constantly patrolled Iraq’s skies and bombed its military installations. We were the main force behind the maintenance of UN sanctions against Iraq. Precedent in treason cases does not require that the enemy adhered to be the object of a formal declaration of war. Consider the most famous case of treason in our history, after that of Benedict Arnold. The Rosenbergs were convicted of treason for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union despite the fact that there was not then, and indeed has never been, a declared state of war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, or any other incarnation of the Russian Empire. Numerous others were convicted of treason for passing secrets to the Soviets during the Cold War, because despite the fact that we were not actually at war in a legal or actual sense they were clearly and undeniably our enemies. The Cold War, it should be noted, cost the United States far fewer of her youths than the Iraq war has to date. In fact, if one were to calculate a body count for the acts of treason committed by Benedict Arnold, the Rosenbergs, and Aldridge Ames and add them together it would come to less than the number of American soldiers and marines killed and maimed by an Iraqi resistance which might never have been able to take the field had it not been for the treason of the man who sits unelected in the office of the vice president.
Article III Section 3 further states, “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” Considering his history of lying, stonewalling, and obfuscation it seems doubtful that Dick Cheney will ever confess in open court. James E. Perrella is one witness, and its hard to believe that if subpoenas were issued to executives from Halliburton, Ingersoll-Rand, Dresser Rand, or Ingersoll Dresser Pump, not to mention officials at the UN oil for food program and perhaps former Iraqi technocrats as well, at least one more could not be found.
The constitutional definition of treason has clearly been met, and yet, Cheney cannot be prosecuted as a traitor because although he adhered to, gave Aid and Comfort to our enemies, he did not violate the law. One may ask how this can be possible. The answer is simple: it can’t. The laws exist only within the bounds set by the constitution, and the powers to make, amend, and interpret the law may never exceed the charter under which they were granted. Any law which is unconstitutional is null, void, and invalid; any power assumed to make such a law by a constitutional officer- even one who was legitimately elected- is also invalid, as it would be exceeding the clearly defined limits on his powers set by the constitution. The first amendment guaranties freedom of religion. Imagine a law prohibiting Judaism, or mandating that citizens of the United States have the freedom of religion only so long as they practice a polytheistic faith which includes animal sacrifice among its rituals. Such a law would clearly violate the first amendment, and would clearly be unconstitutional and invalid. No legislative act, executive order, or Supreme Court decision could create, legally enforce, or uphold such an act, because it would not be within the limits of their delegated powers to do so. The difference between the fist amendment and Article III section 3 is that the first grants a right to the people and restricts the actions which the government may take, whereas the latter restricts the actions which any citizen, public or private, may take. The principal that the constitution remains superior to the law and may not be contradicted thereby remains the same in either case.
Let us examine one more hypothetical analogy, to a constitutional amendment which, like the article defining treason, is also wholly prohibitive in so far as it restricts the actions which the government may take. The third amendment is as follows: No solider shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. This may seem like a historical oddity to the modern reader, but in fact the Quartering Act must have been by far the greatest imposition upon our ancestors of all the Intolerable Acts. Imagine that a law were to be passed during peace time stating that soldiers could not be quartered in any house, pursuant to the third amendment, unless they were assigned to that house via a foreign real estate agent hired by an officer of the American government for that purpose, with all the logistics of the quartering being carried out by the foreign agent rather than by the American officer by whom he was hired. Nobody in their right mind would contend for an instant that this law was constitutionally valid, nor would it be stood for by those whose homes were being imposed upon. Why then should we stand for the loss of American lives caused by the treachery of Halliburton? Is not the loss of a son or daughter a greater imposition than an unwanted houseguest?
The same principle applies to the case of sanction laws, or loopholes therein, which allow an American company, through shell companies or foreign subsidiaries, to trade with an enemy with whom American companies and individuals are prohibited from trading because to do so exceeds the authority of the legislature by contradicting the constitution. Adhering to the enemies of the United States, giving them Aid and Comfort, is Treason. The definition is written plainly, in simple English without embellishment or condition. No construction or sophistry may be offered up which will change that fact. The executive branch, of which the secretary of defense is a member, is empowered under the constitution to carry out the laws- not to subvert them. No executive act or act of legislation may allow what is otherwise forbidden under the constitution. No law or executive act may empower the government to quarter troops in private homes in peacetime; to cancel elections; to prohibit exercise of the freedom of religion, speech or the press; or, as in this case, to trade with the enemy for profit at the expense of troops in the field, as our troops have been since the first Gulf War. Aid and Comfort are simple concepts; Adherence, if an old fashioned word, is also a simple one. $73 million in prohibited services to an enemy regime that could not have obtained those services elsewhere certainly violates the constitutional prohibition against treason. Unbelievable denials and blatant lies can’t answer for the blood and treasure we have spent, and are yet spending.
Further charges may be brought against both Cheney in his role as vice-usurper and against Halliburton for the war profiteering they are conducting in Iraq. Despite more denials (lies) a recently released pentagon memo has confirmed what few ever doubted- that Cheney has been behind the award of no-bid, cost plus contracts to Halliburton despite Halliburton subsidiary KBR’s having paid two million dollars in fines for over billing the Army. The over billing occurred while Cheney was CEO. Who in their right mind would have given a cost plus contract to a company so recently found to have over billed on just such a contract? Yet, from fiscal 2002 to fiscal 2003 Halliburton moved from number 19 on the Army’s list of contractors to number 1- while Dick Cheney remained on the payroll.
We now have reports coming out of Iraq of Halliburton’s serving rotten food to soldiers, and having continued to do so even after having been caught and forced to promise to improve. In addition, for rotten every meal they served, they were found to be billing for three (fresh) meals. Some other methods of inflating the cost to taxpayers: buying and importing the most expensive Kuwaiti gasoline they could find; abandoning $85,000 trucks as soon as they got a flat tire and replacing not the tire, but the entire truck; instructing employees to fill out time sheets for 12 hour days, when the employees admit to having done nothing all day. Halliburton has failed to perform some jobs, performed others so shoddily that they may as well not have done them at all; in every case costing the taxpayers more than had the military performed the work itself. The corruption and incompetence of Halliburton has turned the Iraqi population against the U.S.; it has drained funds which could have been used to supply body armor to soldiers who died because they were sent into battle without it. Funds which, used for reconstruction, could have given jobs and hopes to Iraqis who, in the absence thereof have taken up AK-47s and RPGs- often purchased through funds provided by Saddam’s Halliburton dealings. Halliburton, in short, is killing our men and women and sabotaging the war effort. They have been allowed to do so due to the personal intervention of Dick Cheney, a massive abuse of power even if Halliburton were not so insidious. This too may be said to be giving Aid and Comfort to the Iraqi resistance. If it isn’t treason, it certainly is war profiteering on a scale unprecedented in its brazenness and its deleterious effect on our military. During the writing of this piece the army has deemed in necessary to review at least some of Halliburton’s no-bid contracts; this only goes to reinforce the case presented herein.
Finally, I would like to remind the reader that, when asked why he avoided service in Vietnam, Cheney’s response was that he had, “Other priorities”. He ought to ask the families of the thousand dead American soldiers and marines what the “other priorities” of their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers were. He ought to be forced to visit the hard black wall, not far from the office he has stolen and so treacherously abused, and read the names of 58,000 other young men whose “other priorities” were left on a foreign battlefield. Then he ought to be marched to the gallows and hanged as the greatest traitor in the history of our nation

References:

Halliburton is a Handy Target for Democrats, Robert O’Harrow Jr., The Washington Post, September 18, 2004.

Firm’s Iraq dealings Greater than Cheney has Said, Colum Lynch, Washington Post, June 23, 2001.

http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/bushcorpltr72402.pdf

Halliburton Subpoenaed Over Unit’s Iraq Work, Matt Daily, Reuters, July 19, 2004.

Dick Cheney’s Slimy Business Trail, Robert Scheer, Salon, July 17, 2002.

Contractor Served Troops Dirty Food in Dirty Kitchens, Agence France Presse, The Taipei Times, December 14, 2003.

A Discreet Way of Doing Business with Iraq, Carola Hoyos, FT.com site, Nov. 3, 2000.

E-Mail Boosts Calls to Probe Halliburton, Cheney, Reuters, June 1, 2004/09/11

The Republican War Against Vietnam Veterans, Stewart Nusbaumer, Intervention Magazine, August 15, 2004.

“This Week”, ABC-TV, July 30, 2000.

“This Week”, ABC-TV, August 20, 2000.

Halliburton Planned for Oil Rewards from War, Jason Leopold, Scoop Media, May 14, 2003.

Halliburton Iraq Ties More than Cheney Said, NewsMax wires, June 25, 2001.

President Bush and Halliburton Corporation: Taking Care of his Own?, prepared by Campaign Money Watch, September 14, 2004.

The office of Congressman Henry Waxman has produced copious materials on Halliburton and continues to pursue the company for its treacherous misdeeds despite pressure from the vice president’s office. Twoifbysea would like to salute the Congressman for his doggedness and determination on this issue.

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