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Thursday, June 04, 2009

How to Stay Out of Sight While Making Millions from the War in Iraq

The Houstonian Hotel is an elegant, secluded resort set on an 18-acre wooded oasis in the heart of downtown Houston. Two weeks ago, David Lesar, CEO of the once notorious energy services corporation Halliburton, spoke to some 100 shareholders and members of senior management gathered there at the company's annual meeting. All was remarkably staid as they celebrated Halliburton's $4 billion in operating profits in 2008, a striking 22% return at a time when many companies are announcing record losses. Analysts remain bullish on Halliburton's stock, reflecting a more general view that any company in the oil business is likely to have a profitable future in store.

Recently, the Financial Times ran an interview with KBR's Utt, aptly headlined "KBR believes it is ready to construct a new image." The same day stock analyst Will Gabrielski raised his profit estimate for KBR, causing company shares to jump.

If forgiving and forgetting are now the norm when it comes to the records of Halliburton and KBR in the Bush years, the question remains: Will the Pentagon complete this cleansing ritual or engage in the serious task of investigating both companies?


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