Postwar Profiteers: How a Handful of Construction Firms got an Early Invitation to Rebuild Iraq

by Sheryl Fred

Dissident Voice
March 15, 2003


A select group of U.S. construction firms now bidding on a lucrative government contract to rebuild a postwar Iraq contributed a combined $2.8 million--68 percent to Republicans--over the past two election cycles.


The U.S. Agency for International Development asked Bechtel Group Inc., Fluor Corp., Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, Louis Berger Group Inc., and Parsons Corp. to submit bids last week for the $900-million contract. This initial estimate for repairing and building water systems, roads, bridges, schools and hospitals in the country is just the first step in what the Wall Street Journal called "the largest government reconstruction effort since Americans helped to rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II." The firms that land the contract are also likely to make the short list for future projects in Iraq, which include plans to develop the country’s oil industry.


Bechtel, the engineering giant that employed the likes of former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of State George Schultz and former CIA Director William Casey before they took their government posts, gave $1.3 million in individual, PAC and soft money contributions between 1999 and 2002. As it prepares its bid for the postwar project, Bechtel is facing allegations that it contributed to Iraq's military buildup nearly two decades ago. The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that a German journalist uncovered a document prepared for the United Nations by Iraq that says Bechtel was among 24 U.S. companies that supplied the country with weapons during the ‘80s.


Kellogg, Brown & Root and parent company Halliburton--which was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney until 2000--was the second-largest donor of the group, with more than $709,000 in contributions. Halliburton also gave more to Bush’s presidential campaign--$17,677--than any of the other bidders combined.


Fluor, which gave more than $483,000 in individual, PAC and soft money contributions in the previous two election cycles, also has ties to the Defense Department. Kenneth Oscar, the company’s vice president of strategy and government services, recently served as the acting assistant secretary of the Army, where he directed its $35 billion-a-year procurement budget.


Representatives from Bechtel and Halliburton told reporters this week that they were asked to submit a bid because they’ve done similar work with USAID in the past. Both companies participated in the rebuilding of Kuwait, particularly its oil fields, after the Gulf War. 



Total Contributions* (1999-2002)

Percent to Democrats*

Percent to Republicans*

Total to George W. Bush*^

Bechtel Group Inc.





Halliburton Co.





Fluor Corp.





Parsons Corp.





Louis Berger Group Inc.










*Based on data released by the Federal Election Commission on March 5, 2003. Totals include PAC, soft money and individual contributions to federal candidates, party committees and leadership PACs, 1999-2002.

^These figures are included in the total contributions, 1999-2002.

Sheryl Fred is an investigative reporter for the Center for Responsive Politics and its online newsletter,, where this article first appeared: (


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