The Private Sector

Perhaps one of the most loathsome disasters left to us by Dick Cheney (and there are a lot of them) is the elevation of the criminally incompetent Halliburton he once led to the cash-soaked tippy-top of the Military Industrial Complex.   Flush with no-bid contracts even before the bonanza of the Iraq War Cheney so coveted, Halliburton is a perfect example of privatization run amok.

Here in Oregon, Halliburton is busily spending its hard-stolen taxpayer funds to escape accountability for knowingly poisoning troops with chromium hexavalent, that is the ones they didn’t electrocute in the showers or lock in a storage container after being gang-raped.  When your company shares responsibility for these atrocities, as well as the Deepwater Horizon “incident,” what do you do for an encore?  Turns out, you toss nuclear waste out the window of your shiny black SUV while speeding across the Texas desert. (h/t Raw Story):

Texans can breathe easier: the radioactive waste Halliburton fracking surveyors lost last month has finally been found.

The United Arab Emirates-based oil services company told reporters this weekend that an oilfield worker found the rod of americium-241/beryllium alongside a highway near Pecos, Texas.

Halliburton reported it missing on September 11, and members of the Texas National Guard were ultimately called up to aid their search. Halliburton said it even deployed vehicles fitted with radiation detection equipment, but found nothing on three sweeps of the area.

Oops.  I guess they thought that cylindrical, glowing thing rolling around on the floor was a just another beer can.  At what point do stories like these finally puncture the myth that the fabled “private sector” is so wonderful?  Companies like Halliburton (or JPMorgan, Citibank, Boeing, AT&T, etc, for that matter) have about as much relationship to the “Free Market” as chicken shit has to chicken salad. Not a one of them could exist for fifteen minutes without government largesse and/or well-protected immunity from competition.

It was Cheney himself who exempted energy behemoths from not only disclosing what poisons they were injecting into the earth to “frack” it, but even the cursory oversight of the EPA for poisoning water supplies in so doing.  I guess now we know why: NUCLEAR F*CKING WASTE seems to be involved.  We already knew that any number or industrial poisons were being squirted, willy-nilly, into bedrock all across America, causing faucets to catch fire and earthquakes to rattle local nerves, but seriously?   Now they’re just yarding nuclear waste out the car window?  What were they doing with it in the first place?  None of our business, natch.
As I brought up in the previous post,  the most infuriating aspect of stories like these is that they are now treated like the weather, about which one talks and talks but never does anything, instead of the crime blotter material they actually are.  At worst, some low-level employee might be fired.  At best, Halliburton will write somebody a check and admit no wrongdoing.  You or I would be fired, jailed, and bankrupted for such wanton malfeasance; Halliburton, not so much.
The culture of impunity at the top of American capitalism and government is, sadly, self-reinforcing, and never more so than it’s been for over a hundred years, even as the Little People face an increasingly authoritarian, militarized surveillance state quite clearly designed to keep them in check, no matter which party nominally handles the reins.  America is being rather rapidly strangled by the most laughably blatant sort of Crony Capitalism, and the last national politician to utter those two words in the same sentence was…..  Sarah Palin.
Maybe ol’ Caribou Barbie is smarter than she lets on.


  1. nswfm says:


  2. nswfm says:

    LOL! I played that clip and startled my poor 15 year old cat. She was peacefully sleepying yet jumped down to get away from The Screech!

    • cocktailhag says:

      Sorry, Kitty. Sometimes I’m so thoughtless, and I was admittedly reluctant to drag that snowbilly back into the limelight, but dang, she had a point for once, although surely unintentionally.

      • nswfm says:

        Sleepy(ing) kitty is very forgiving. Damn phone keyboard!

        Don’t know what happened to my lengthy first comment. Maybe Darth ate it.

        • cocktailhag says:

          I hate when that happens; I’m always hitting send when I mean to hit back, with often embarrassing results. Your cat is smarter, evidently, than my brother’s, which is afraid of the measuring tape.

      • nswfm says:

        What’s funny is fire trucks, honking taxis, thunder in NYC, earthquakes and flying on airplanes and travelling INSIDE cars don’t bother this cat, but The Screech did.

  3. econobuzz says:

    “Maybe ol’ Caribou Barbie is smarter than she lets on.”

    She would have to be.

  4. avelna says:

    I have to ask, what about the oilfield worker who happened upon the radioactive rod? I’m guessing he (she?) wasn’t wearing protective gear. Was there any potentially harmful exposure? I’m guessing, in any case, that Halliburton is protected by the gummint from any legal exposure.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Just like they’re arguing currently in Federal Court here: One, they have blanket immunity from the government, Two, they didn’t “deliberately” poison the troops, so they’re innocent, anyway. Head they win, tails we lose.

  5. dirigo says:

    This goes back a-ways, but when I was a reporter in the Texas Panhandle, I was (privately of course, since I was “impartial”), dumbstruck one day when a candidate for statewide office came into Amarillo.

    The dude, who if memory serves, kinda looked like, hmmm … Jerry Jones, was asked his thoughts concerning the disposal of NUC-yuh-lurr waste.

    This was pertinent in a local news context because the oh-so secret Pantex plant sat serenely outside of town. There, the Department of Energy (once the Atomic Energy Commission) had, since the late ’40s, rolled out nearly all of the NUC-yuh-lurr warheads used in the American arsenal. It was, as I said, all hush-hush. Also at the time (the beloved Reagan eighties), the government began looking for a way to store all NUC-yuh-lurr waste disgorged from all obsolete weapons and power plants across the country. One local site under consideration was a vast, underground salt bed which sits beneath prime farm and ranch land in Deaf Smith County, on the way to Lubbock, where Buddy Holly was born. It’s really, really, flat around these parts.

    Anyway, the candidate was asked what he would do about the problem of NUC-yuh-lurr waste, since it would be his job to wrap his head around the problem were he to serve as an elected official.

    Pausing and searching for an intelligent response (not unlike Paul Ryan), the dude said, “Send it to South America!” The candidate dude, rounding a bit as if in a Manifest Destiny riff, implied that those folks south of the border would fall over themselves to do a deal with Uncle Sam and accept endless bargeloads of the most toxic substances on earth – in the interests of hemispheric harmony. And since free market solutions are always the default choice to solve a problem in Texas, it was naturally assumed the Latinos would magically create a corporation to take care of things.

    Or some such.

    But as I said, that was a long time ago, and, as is clear to all, things have improved immensely with our leadership, though the problem of storing the country’s NUC-yuh-lurr garbage remains, unnh … alive, glowing, and thorny.

    Sarah Palin, never shy about opening her trap on any subject, would no doubt be happy to help Texans, or say, Nevadans, come up with a solution to the problem of storing NUC-yuh-lurr waste. She, like the candidate I interviewed then, would likely jump at the chance to ship that crap south, or to Russia, which of course is within site of her back porch. Then again, Sarah-the-NIMBY might not like seeing a blue-orange hue on the horizon while parked in her favorite recliner; so yeah! – send that shit as far south as possible. How about the Antarctic? Let the fucking penguins deal with it!

    Rave on!

    Since the ’80s, Yucca Mountain has been the government’s first choice for storing this mess, but Nevadans and Harry Reid have been none too happy about being treated like Ecuadorans on the matter. Reid is standing fast against the plans for Yucca.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Didn’t some other neo-confederate yahoo say even more recently that nuclear waste could be sprinkled on farms? Maybe that’s what Halliburton was doing.

      • dirigo says:

        Not sure, but maybe it was the guy from Arkansas running for state rep who wants to float a death penalty bill to execute kids who disobey their parents.

        As Polonius said of Hamlet: “He’s gone, far gone.”

        But enjoying Frosted Flakes with some radiation enhancement is appealing, as I think about it.

  6. RUKidding says:

    Don’t get me started on Haliburton or isn’t it Xe or something like that. Geez. Dick Cheney really is the Head Primate on the Wingnut Welfare Gravy Train and got himself all rolling in clover.

    If some Halliburton goon lost some nuk-u-lar thermos-thingy in the great state of Tejas, the least they coulda done was chuck it over W’s fenced in compound in the big D.

    I refuse to turn on the video. Cannot stand Nails on Chalkboard Grifterella.

    BTW in the Oct 8 “New Yorker” mag, there’s an article entitled “Super Rich Irony” (no link bc you need to subscribe). It’s all about the 1% being pissed at Obama bc he’s such a “socialist” or something. The wealthy apparently hate Zero, which is news to me, as it seems like Barry’s done nothing but suck up to them and make them even richer than before.

    To make a long story short, the article discusses a 4th annual Skybridge Alternatives Conference, known as SALT, which is held in Viva Las Vegas. In attendance was Al Gore sucking at the teat of the idle wealthy, and one of the keynote addresses was given by none other than Bible Spice, herself (no kidding). Maybe the video is from that talk?? Like I say: I will not subject myself to it.

    The article helpfully points out that Ignoramus Moosepile begins her “address” by helpfully shouting out: “Hello, one per cent! How y’all doing?”

    I think in a recent post here, I pointed out that McCain was smarter than RMoney in picking Palin as his putative running “mate” bc Palin could sort of “play act” at being all sympathetic to those in need (as opposed to Paul R-Ayn who is totally out front about how much he hates the 99% and hopes to toss granny down the death panel shute stat), but in reality she loathes the 99% as much as the rest of the PTB. And so, I rest my case.

    That woman is nothing but a fraud from beginning to end, but she’ll do ANYTHING to make a buck. And how!

    • cocktailhag says:

      I read that article; I must have inadvertently leapt their paywall.
      What a bunch or narcissistic morons; spending one’s life surrounded by servants and sycophants indeed rots the brain. (And Gore’s presence there was a depressing factoid…..)

      • mikeinportc says:

        I read that somewhere too. The Guardian? Anthony Villaraigosa (D) , mayor of LA, was also there, with Al, shilling for the 1% and O-Bomber.

        Of course, given the vaaaaaassst differences between the parties, it’s essential that (fill-in-the-blank) wins in November. ;)

        • RUKidding says:

          Yes, you are correct. Former LA Mayor Villaigarosa was also there, along with Al Bore… both of them with their tongues firmly up the asses of the whining 1% who’s iddle-widdle fweelings were so hurted by Barry Oilybomber who didn’t totally kiss their heinies twenty thousand times per day (like Al & Anthony, obs).

          It was a thoroughly disgusting, but enlightening, article.

          The Editorial page of that same issue also highlighted how the various “extraction” industies, such BigOil, BigCoal, BigGas, BigMinerals, either do NOT pay ANY royalties AT ALL for the various “goodies” that they TAKE from OUR natural resourcs, or that the royalties that they pay are so frickin’ paltry as to be laughable.

          I point this out, due to a prior post about the skyrocketing gas prices in CA (fortunately temporary, but still…) whereby someone commented that the poor pathetic ever-so-deprived BigCorps who rape & plunder this land of “ours” so freely really must be knealt down to because, wait for it, they have it so “hard” having to, you know, PAY to extract the goodies from our nation. And so forth blah blah blah… insert your Ayn Randian rightwing “libertarian” b.s. here.

  7. homeroidtheDFH says:

    Makes me wonder what all they pump into the ground. They want to start drilling in our area for gas and i question why they did not do it long ago when it would have been much easier. I just dont trust any of these fuckers. Thanks fer the nice piece here Hag.

    • cocktailhag says:

      If history is any guide, they pump whatever foul stuff it is they’re trying to get rid of that week. Most of the toxic chemicals in gasoline (like benzene, say) are just put in the gas to get rid of them. But even given that, I was taken aback that nuclear waste was in the mix. If it hadn’t been for Halliburton’s little boo-boo, we wouldn’t even have known about it.

      • mikeinportc says:

        Exactly right . Whatever they have, and can use . One confirmed component is hydrochloric acid. There’s been several spills (into streams) south of here, in Susquehanna Co. , PA.
        During the Gulf spill hearings , a congressman (from Fishkill,NY, appropriately enough)got hold of the MSDS for the dispersant used in the Gulf. It’s also used for fracking. The MSDS had information on treatment for arsenic poisoning.

        Love how, in response to Hinchey’s bill(s) to require disclosure, all the yayhoos from TX & OK insist that it’s sooooo safe, that we shouldn’t be allowed to know.

        Nuclear waste too? Surprising, but not that much. Of course, that too will magically appear 1000s of feet below the water table, without going through it. ;)

        • cocktailhag says:

          In retrospect, Cheney’s infamous “energy task force” was a lot more sinister than anyone imagined. I wish I believed in Hell when I think about that guy.

      • Bill Schee says:

        I believe the nuclear stuff is used as a tracer. It’s probably not injected just to get rid of it.

  8. michlib says:

    A good source of endless fracking ballast would be Halliburton’s internal memo library – with the additional cost savings of obsoleting their paper-shredding department !

  9. mikeinportc says:

    Btw, Hag , I hope you have your assets hidden. You might get fined for your impertinence. (too?);)

  10. meremark says:

    Your political players’ character developments improve with refinement since you’ve gone Salon, CH. Maybe national, heck int’l inputs have contributed or connected in a sense — some ubersense or innersense.

    So I would keep bringing the backstories, or backstory, inevitably singular Historians tell us. There’s a 1% of the 1%, inured to money’s thrill in their advanced ages, 200 years in petrodollars, now obsessively convulsing themselves in ‘world domination’ whatever that (thrill?) is.
    The plotline is so dumb it’s obvious: Oil. Petroleum, black gold, Texas Tea. Worldwide. Go get it! For them, 1% of the 1%. And only 1% of those.
    Safe they are from apprehension since nobody can do the math. That means there are very few of them, fifty or a hundred on the planet, same ‘names’ each year at annual conventions of Bohemia Grove or Bilderberg The Netherlands or Davos Switzerland. 70 of them, 7 billion of us, earthlings. Go get ‘em!

    Naming names is inevitable. Accordingly, 300-yr old Lloyd’s (of London) consisting of nothing but Names, quietly folded its hands, and centuries, and financial instrumentation, and disappeared following Nine-Eleven Op. But I suggest ….

    Just wanted to pop out from behind the paywall fronting ‘Intelligence Community’ blogtalk, with a recent recounting of (keywords) ‘Cheney‘ = Halliburton and ‘nuclear accident‘ = war crime — refining characteristics. The author is All-American grade, hell, All-World (Peace, B. Free). Here’s to your Salonifying sophistication, CH:

    [n.b. Digital ineptitude has me unable to transfer in here the active links in the original. That, and they're all paywalled..]

    October 10-11, 2012 — Air Force releases report on Minot nuke episode

    On September 24, 2007, WMR reported the following on six errant nuclear weapons that were “mistakenly” flown from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana:

    WMR has learned from U.S. and foreign intelligence sources that the B-52 transporting six stealth AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missiles, each armed with a W-80-1 nuclear warhead, on August 30, were destined for the Middle East via Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

    However, elements of the Air Force, supported by U.S. intelligence agency personnel, successfully revealed the ultimate destination of the nuclear weapons and the mission was aborted due to internal opposition within the Air Force and U.S. Intelligence Community . . . Although the Air Force tried to keep the B-52 nuclear incident from the media, anonymous Air Force personnel leaked the story to Military Times on September 5, the day before the Israelis attacked the alleged nuclear installation in Syria and the day planned for the simultaneous U.S. attack on Iran. The leaking of classified information on U.S. nuclear weapons disposition or movement to the media, is, itself, unprecedented. Air Force regulations require the sending of classified BEELINE reports to higher Air Force authorities on the disclosure of classified Air Force information to the media.

    An official Air Force inquiry into the Minot incident was conducted by Major General Douglas Raaberg, chief of air and space operations at the Air Combat Command. The report has now been released with numerous redactions.

    On September 27, 2007, WMR reported the following:

    “Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Mosely are doing their best to string out the investigation as long as they can until media interest wanes. According to Gannett, Major General Douglas Raaberg, director of air and space operations of the Air Combat Command and the chief of the official investigation team, has already visited Minot and Barksdale. To highlight the cover-up of the incident, Wynne, Mosely, and Raaberg are still not using the word “nuclear” in references to the B-52 incident, keeping with a strict policy of neither confirming nor denying information about nuclear weapons operations.”

    Reporting from Minot on March 7, 2008, WMR filed this report:

    “WMR can preliminarily report that the incident surrounding the flight of six nuclear armed cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana last Labor Day weekend was not a mistake. In what represents the worst breakdown in the command and control over the US military since the Civil War, two separate chains of command, one official and the other unofficial and illegal, were responsible for preventing the unauthorized use of nuclear weapons and the security breakdown in the control of nuclear weapons, respectively. The official chain of command was able to forestall the use of the nuclear weapons outside normal nuclear weapons command and control parameters that have been in place and respected by every administration since that of President Harry S Truman.”

    WMR featured two special reports from Minot and Barksdale: Part I and Part II.

    The Air Force investigation at Minot was hampered and possibly compromised by the following incident, reported by WMR on March 26, 2008,

    “After the Labor Day incident, a number of Air Force officials descended on Minot for an investigation of the incident. On October 5, 2007, in an incident reminiscent of the TV show ‘MacGyver,’ a chlorine tablet tossed in trash can along with a carbonated drink in the pool area at the Minot Fairfield Inn resulted in a chlorine gas release and the evacuation of the hotel and transport of workers and guests to the hospital. The hotel remained evacuated for a number of hours. Air Force inspection personnel were staying at the hotel at the time of the incident.”

    The Raaberg report, as expected, was a general whitewash that laid more blame at the feet of senior non-commissioned officers at Minot and personnel at Barksdale, the receiving base for the nuclear weapons, than the senior levels at Minot.

    However, what is learned from the Raaberg report is how completely Cheney’s alternate chain-of-command compromised the security of U.S. nuclear weapons. One witness, responsible for the accountability and management of nuclear weapons at Minot, revealed that the task is accomplished by the Defense Integration and Management Of Nuclear Data System (DIAMONDS), which tracks nuclear weapons throughout the Defense Department for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). It is obvious that this system broke down during the nuclear transfer from Minot to Barksdale. Another witness told investigators that after the incident became known to Minot personnel, “cops” surrounded the weapons and runway areas and officers and senior NCOs told personnel “this was a classified incident and needed to be kept quiet.” The incident was kept quiet until three high-ranking Air Force officers notified the press about the incident. It was later discovered by WMR that a dual chain-of-command had been established by Cheney who planned to use one or more of the errant nuclear warheads in a Middle East operation.

    Dick resides now in Abu Dhabi because, wherein, it’s USA non-extradictable.

    Wayne approves personally of modicum placement wholesale of his reports, like this.

    So ‘they’ ‘lost’ a radioactive flashlight-size ‘rod’ somewhere in W.Texas for awhile, but ‘they’ later found it. Ho-hum. Yawn. … any arrests yet?


  11. Bill Schee says:

    Dick resides now in Abu Dhabi?

    Thanks, I was unaware of that. I hope he took his shrew with him.