Vision for Post-Conflict Iraq

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The twelve-page document (pdf) the "Vision for Post-Conflict Iraq", issued February 19, 2003, by the U.S. Agency for International Development, was a blueprint for the reconstruction of Iraq to be jointly accomplished by USAID and reconstruction of Iraq contractors.

"Reconstruction activities" were to commence "simultaneously with emergency humanitarian relief, as soon as areas [were] secure enough to permit workers to enter" and to "take place during the 18 months after the conflict." [1]

The Vision, "first leaked to the Wall Street Journal [on March 10, 2003], calls for rebuilding 1,500 miles of 'economically important roads and bridges,' the reconstruction of thousands of war-damaged ports, airports, hospitals and schools, and the delivery of 550 emergency power generators to restore electricity." [2]

"Press leaks of the planned USAID contract sparked protests from Congress over the extreme secrecy that the administration has imposed on all of its plans for the Iraq war and its aftermath." At the time, the Bush administration had "yet to provide any estimate of the costs of the war, which [had] been projected at anywhere between $50 billion and $200 billion. It [was] estimated that after the war is over, the first year of a US occupation [would] cost at least another $20 billion." [3]

Within days of the issue of the Vision, on March 20, 2003, BBC News reported that the "US awards deals for post-war Iraq": "The US Government has invited companies to compete for projects which could begin in Iraq immediately after a war," with the plans "for the rebuilding deals - worth up to $900m" being co-ordinated by USAID which was "discretely [sending] out requests for tenders from at least five companies involved in infrastructure and engineering."

A USAID spokeswoman, commenting on the "detailed ... privately distributed" Vision, told the BBC that "the companies were chosen because of their proven ability, and that it was a policy to use US companies for projects funded by the American taxpayer." [4]

Among those receiving an invite were Halliburton, "where US Vice-President Dick Cheney served as chief executive from 1995 to 2000." BBC said that "Halliburton [had] already been reported to have acquired a contract to oversee firefighting operations at Iraqi oilfields after any invasion. ... Many more contracts will have to be awarded after any possible war." [5]

On March 25, 2003, Gulf News reported that, "According to the USAID plan, the initial focus of the project will be to restore roads and bridges, repair power facilities, set up emergency health services, renovate schools and build thousands of new homes in poor urban areas. [6]

"The companies to have evinced interest," the BBC wrote, were "Bechtel, Washington Group, and Kellogg Brown and Root, which is an affiliate of Halliburton." [7]

Reuters, reporting on an item in the Wall Street Journal, gave "the five infrastructure-engineering firms tapped to bid for the Iraq contract [as] Bechtel Group Inc., Fluor Corp., Houston-based Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root subsidiary; Louis Berger Group, Inc. and Parsons Corp." [8]

The June 3, 2003, Alexander's Gas & Oil wrote that USAID jusitified "the by-passing of normal awarding procedures with the explanation that 'the urgency and unique nature of this work requires special circumstances." Alexander's wrote that "Few buy this, especially since all the selected corporations are well known for their strong political ties to Vice-president Dick Chaney and other US administration officials. ... 'While probably not illegal, this request for tenders from a tight group of hand-picked companies certainly has the appearance of impropriety,' Texas-based construction companies complain. 'It stinks of political favouritism,'" they said, adding that the "Engineering giants Bechtel Group, Halliburton, Schlumberger and the Louis Berger Group as well as Fluor have been selected as nominated contractors for the initial tenders." [9]


Excerpt from the March 10, 2003, Wall Street Journal:

"U.S. officials last month asked at least five large domestic construction companies with international operations to bid on the main contract. They are Bechtel Group Inc. of San Francisco; Fluor Corp. of Aliso Viejo, Calif.; Houston-based Halliburton Co.'s Kellogg Brown & Root (Dick Cheney, CEO: 1995-2000); Louis Berger Group Inc. of East Orange, N.J.; and Parsons Corp. of Pasadena, Calif." [10]


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