Dept. of Corrections

A piece we ran in Viewpoints yesterday, “Iran’s Election Drama More Elaborate Than You Think,” indicated that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a former member of the Revolutionary Guards. This was incorrect (see this for details). We regret the error.

On a less clear-cut matter, I received the following e-mail from Halliburton’s PR department:


The article, “Where are they now?” by Philip Giraldi, posted June 23 on, incorrectly states that Halliburton is a military contractor. [Editor’s note: Giraldi’s offending sentence was “Cheney headed defense contractor Halliburton after his stint at the Defense Department under George H.W. Bush.”] Halliburton has never been contracted for services by the U.S. government, particularly none of the logistics support services frequently discussed in the media today.

To confirm, Halliburton is not a military contractor. Halliburton is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry, and serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the lifecycle of the reservoir – from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data, to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field.

You will note that all of the government services and engineering and construction businesses have been and remain with KBR. To confirm, KBR and Halliburton are completely separate and independent of each other. Halliburton separated KBR from the company in April 2007 ( ).

We respectfully request you make this correction immediately.

Kind regards,

Diana Gabriel
Senior Manager, Public Relations

Well, this is a little like complaining that the sentence “Hirohito ruled Imperial Japan” is inaccurate because Japan no longer has an empire. At the time that Cheney headed Halliburton (1995-2000), Kellogg Brown & Root (now KBR) was a subsidiary of the company, and it sure as hell was a defense contractor. As Gabriel notes, Halliburton only split with KBR in 2007, after 44 years together.

But just to avoid any confusion about Halliburton’s present status, we removed the offending modifier “defense contractor.” Also, Japan is no longer an empire.*

*But it was one when Hirohito became its emperor.

Obama: Agent of Change? Well, Agent of Somethin’

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says — and he should know — there is no difference between the policy of “absolute support” for Israel between Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Obama’s own spokesman Robert Gibbs affirmed that, as under Bush, “all options remain on the table” with regard to Iran.

A recent executive order from the new president allows the CIA to continue to operate its “safe houses” — possibly a torture loophole.

Even President Obama’s massive stimulus plan continues the print-and-spend insanity preferred by the former administration.

And depending on whom you ask, Obama might want to ramp up military activity in Afghanistan — one area where Bush’s policy wasn’t quite forceful enough for the new president.

Don’t forget Obama’s new Homeland Security appointment of a “cybercrimes expert” as general counsel. You know, instead of abolishing Bush’s gargantuan Homeland Security bureaucracy altogether.

So aside from closing Guantánamo Bay in an extremely literal sense — after all, many of the detainees will remain such — what “change” have we witnessed thus far?

I Lied and I’m a Coward

I’m not a big fan of the New York Times, but today’s front-page investigative report on the Pentagon’s managing of the news is absolutely first-rate. One of the Pentagon officials, Torie Clarke, the Pentagon’s main propagandist, said her goal had been to achieve “information dominance.” In other words, she wanted the Pentagon’s message to get out and crowd out the independent information from others. To do this, the Pentagon recruited retired military officers and fed them select information that was often at odds with reality. Wow! I’m already sounding like a spin doctor. What I mean in the earlier sentence is that the Pentagon lied.
The payoff for many of these retired officers was that various “defense” contractors for whom they worked got a better shot at military contracts. [Why “defense” in quotation marks? Because most of what the Department of Defense does has nothing to do with defense: it’s offense, much of which makes us less safe.]
Interestingly, some of the retired military knew they were being lied to and passed the information on as truth nevertheless. In other words, they lied. One, General Paul E. Vallely, a FOX News analyst from 2001 to 2007, stated, ““I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south [in Iraq.]” But on his return, Vallely told FOX’s Alan Colmes, “You can’t believe the progress,” and predicted that the number of insurgents would be “down to a few numbers” within months. Of course, it wasn’t. And it turned out that Vallely didn’t “believe the progress.”
How did they rationalize their lying? Take Timur J. Eads. Please. Eads is “a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Fox analyst who is vice president of government relations for Blackbird Technologies, a fast-growing military contractor.” Eads said he had withheld the truth on television for fear that a four-star general would call and say, “Kill that contract.” I’ve heard of people running from battle because they might be literally killed. And I’m sympathetic. But lying because the consequence of telling the truth is that your employer might lose business and you might get fired? Wowee. Pretty scary.
The whole article is well worth your time.