Boycott Watch
March 22, 2007
Op-Ed: Halliburton Defects
By Fred Taub
Much has been written about the Halliburton Corporation because Vice President Cheney once ran the company, and it has been under scrutiny after being awarded no-bid contracts plus the company is in the middle of an over-billing dispute with the US Government. The criticism has primarily been politically motivated, but it all pales in comparison to the press release the company issued Sunday, March 11, 2007, in which Halliburton Corporation announced they will move their corporate headquarters from Houston, Texas, to Bahrain.

    Sure, the Halliburton announcement will have some obvious repercussions including that the move will allow Halliburton and its executives to dodge both corporate and individual US taxes, people will demand that Halliburton contracts to feed American troops and other work in Iraq be cancelled because they are no longer a US company, as well as complaints of how dare a company that grew because of American contracts run away. Instead of focusing on the emotional arguments, we have to look beyond the surface and think about the issues which may appear to be less pronounced, yet are more significant to the US and its allies.

    First, the announcement was made on a Sunday, a day which is not considered a business day in the Christian-based society of the US, yet is a regular working day in the Islamic-based society in Bahrain. While the announcement could have easily waited until the next day, the choice of day shows the company is specifically paying more homage to the Islamic culture than to our own.

    Second, Halliburton has been a defense contractor. Regardless of how many precautions are taken, the move will result in secrets going oversees as the brain-pool of Halliburton staff and executives can not be suddenly erased.

    While working for a NASA contractor, I had to pass a background check even if not a full security clearance. I could not help but overhear some secrets that I will never reveal because I do not have authority to, nor would I because I value and respect this great nation. By announcing they are leaving the US, Halliburton essentially announced they no longer pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, thus Halliburton executives may potentially give secrets to their new country of allegiance.

    Congress therefore needs to pass a law allowing the FBI to step in and seize any and all documents and data related to defense contacting (including project, implementation, scheduling and budget) in order to prevent such information from leaving US soil in the Halliburton move. If you have ever been worried about what one spy can give to foreign governments, imagine what Halliburton can potentially transport oversees to a country where there is no US oversight.

    Third, by moving to a country that is signatory to the Arab boycott of Israel, Halliburton executives are saying they no longer stand to protect US foreign-policy interests. Congress enacted the Export Administration Amendments of 1977 which states that no foreign nation may impose their foreign policy on the U.S. therefore no U.S. persons may engage in official boycotts of foreign nations aimed at nations friendly to the U.S. By moving to Bahrain, Halliburton will be subject to comply with official Arab League member nation policies. This can significantly affect international business contracts because Halliburton is thumbing its nose at the United States and our Congress by adopting and implementing Arab League foreign policy in their US business dealings by virtue of its new allegiance.

    The Arab boycott of Israel is a topic which was forgotten about until I started writing extensively about it on the Boycott Watch ( and Divestment Watch ( websites. The ABI topic has been picked up recently by other writers and became the issue which ultimately broke the Dubai Ports World deal. Potential illegal requests to comply with the ABI will become an important business factor with all future Halliburton dealings now that it is based in an Arab nation. US companies even thinking about doing business with Halliburton now need to become familiar with US anti-boycott laws and reporting requirements.

    Fourth, several news reports have revealed that Halliburton has had business dealings with Iran in direct violation of a US law banning "the direct or indirect exportation of U.S.-origin goods, services, or technology to Iran or the Government of Iran." ( I speculate Halliburton executives may be making this move to avoid potential US prosecution.

    Halliburton executives surely know that they may lose key US government contracts that have made their company profitable, yet by moving to Bahrain, they will retain world-wide oil exploration contracts and protect themselves.

    Most people never heard of Halliburton until Dick Cheney was announced as the Vice Presidential candidate. The company was regarded as the quintessential American success story, but now it is the quintessential American nightmare.

    Fred Taub is the President of Boycott Watch ( which monitors and reports about consumer boycotts, and Divestment Watch ( which exposed why the Arab boycott of Israel and its subsidiary divest-from-Israel campaign violate US laws and are an impediment to peace.

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