Attacks on Halliburton 'Gutter Politics'

An Internet ad is showing up on John Kerry Web sites attacking a U.S. contractor whose subsidiary workers are driving supply trucks in Iraq, and sometimes paying for it with their lives.

The ad shows a billboard sign emblazoned with the name “Halliburton,” the multinational that has won several U.S. humanitarian contracts to help with Iraq’s reconstruction. Next to the billboard picture is this caption: “For the first time in history, a corporation was allowed to invade a nation.”

This is a low blow against an American corporation whose workers are sacrificing life and limb to help supply food, medicine and other critical rebuilding supplies to the Iraqi people.

Halliburton has become Kerry’s favorite corporate whipping boy because of its association with Vice President Dick Cheney, who ran the oil supply company before George W. Bush asked him to join the 2000 ticket. A company subsidiary, KBR (formerly known as Kellogg), has truckers driving the roads of Iraq.

The bodies of three of Halliburton’s drivers were found last week not far from where their fuel convoy was attacked in Iraq. While not in the U.S. armed forces, they nevertheless were part of the effort to bring peace, freedom and democracy to this war-torn country.

Stephen Hulett, 48, of Manistee, Mich.; Jack Montague, 52, of Pittsburg, Ill.; and Jeffery Parker, 45, of Lake Charles, La. were in every sense of the word American heroes — doing a dirty job that needed doing and that few others, no matter what the money, would dare to do. A fourth Halliburton driver in the convoy, Thomas Hamill of Macon, Miss., seen on news videotape just before his captors took him away, was still missing as of this writing.

It’s extraordinarily doubtful that these men saw themselves as “invaders” rather than people helping a nation in the throes of change.

Kerry has been working Halliburton into his stump speeches, trying to persuade voters that Bush’s war and the Halliburton contract are all about Big Oil and higher gas prices and illicit deals — when this is really all about defeating terrorism and building a democratic government in the heart of the Middle East to serve as a role model for the rest of the region.

In a recent column, I quoted one of Kerry’s national security supporters and other analysts who complained that on the issues of terrorism and the war in Iraq, he was all attacks and no solutions, all pessimism and no optimism.

Running Internet ads attacking a legitimate, for-profit U.S. contractor who, among other things, is simply trying to keep Iraq’s vital supply lines running, is not an agenda for change; it’s gutter politics of the worst kind.

And this is what Kerry’s campaign surrogates are doing with their silly implications that this war is also about Iraqi oil. As of last week, the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority running Iraq deposited more than $7.54 billion in Iraq’s Development Fund, money from the country’s oil exports since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Under a 2003 U.N. Security Council resolution, all of the oil revenues must be spent on the country’s reconstruction.

And that is in fact where Iraq’s vast oil wealth is going. If Halliburton can help Iraq produce more of that wealth, all the better for the Iraqi people — and for America’s national security.