We had a server outage, and we're rebuilding the site. Most of the site features won't work. Thank you for your patience.
imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Sidestepping Sanctions

by Michael Scherer Sunday, Jul. 13, 2003 at 10:54 AM

While the Bush administration looks the other way, U.S. companies are dodging laws that bar them from doing business with nations accused of sponsoring terrorism.

In April, as American tanks approached the outskirts of Baghdad, Pentagon officials suggested that only U.S. companies would be allowed to take part in the postwar reconstruction of Iraq's oil fields. In strategic leaks to the press, the Defense Department offered a rationale for an American-only policy: European firms, they declared, should be excluded because they do business with Iran and other countries that sponsor terrorist organizations and harbor weapons of mass destruction.

What defense officials failed to note, however, is that many U.S. companies routinely find ways to bypass economic sanctions and export regulations that bar American citizens and companies from trading with Iran, North Korea, Libya, and Sudan. Taking advantage of legal loopholes, these corporations simply conduct their business through offshore subsidiaries that employ only foreign citizens. With no Americans on the payroll, the subsidiaries are free to ignore U.S. sanctions against the "axis of evil" and other countries identified by the Bush administration as the primary sponsors of terrorism. Other U.S. firms -- including Hewlett-Packard, Kodak, and Procter & Gamble -- ship their products to Dubai, where third parties are known to "re-export" goods to Iran.

"It's a real problem," says Michael Beck, an expert on sanctions at the University of Georgia. "American companies bypass U.S. export controls by using entities based in other countries."

In Iran -- "the most active state sponsor of terrorism," according to the State Department -- General Electric is providing four hydroelectric generators to expand a dam on the Kurun River through a Canadian subsidiary called GE Hydro and is also supplying pipeline compressors and gas turbines for Iran's burgeoning oil sector through an Italian unit called Nuovo Pignone. Not far from the Iraqi border, a subsidiary of Halliburton is helping to build a $228 million fertilizer plant, one of the world's largest. Another Halliburton division based in Sweden is providing the Iranian National Oil Co. with a $226 million semi-submersible drilling rig, while other subsidiaries operate in Libya. A British subsidiary of ConocoPhillips helped Iran survey its Azadegan oil field, and ExxonMobil only recently sold its Sudanese gas subsidiary based in Khartoum.

U.S. companies acknowledge that they routinely use overseas subsidi- aries to trade with sanctioned countries in the Middle East and else-where. "We have used foreign subsidiaries to sell oil equipment in those regions," says Scott Amann, a vice president at the oil-service firm Cooper Cameron. "We're not allowed to have an American company or American operation."

But while President Bush has drawn a line in the sand with foreign governments, warning them "you are with us or you're with the terrorists," he has done little to crack down on U.S. corporations that skirt trade embargoes designed to undercut terrorist organizations. "It is an outrage, if not actually criminal, when you have companies end-running these sanctions," says Frank Gaffney, a deputy defense secretary under Reagan and president of the Center for Security Policy, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

Previous administrations have been less friendly to sanction dodgers. The Reagan administration pressured subsidiaries of Conoco and Marathon to leave Libya in the 1980s, and in 1995 the Clinton administration persuaded Conoco to abandon an Iranian oil contract arranged through a Dutch subsidiary. "If a government is strongly committed to stopping these kinds of transactions, it can do so," says Kenneth Rodman, a sanctions expert at Colby College. "There is power that the U.S. is choosing not to use for some reason."

Instead, the Bush administration has used its power behind the scenes to make it easier for American companies to do business with the very countries it has targeted in the war on terrorism. As CEO of Halliburton, Dick Cheney lobbied to lift U.S. sanctions against Iran and Libya, saying they hurt business and failed to stop terrorism. As vice president, Cheney has initiated a "comprehensive review of sanctions" as part of the National Energy Review, suggesting that sanctions against oil-producing nations should be relaxed to improve "energy security." Last year the administration supported a bill that would have weakened trade restrictions on high-speed computers and other technology that can be used to develop nuclear weapons, and the Securities and Exchange Commission has delayed issuing rules that would require foreign companies to disclose their business deals in sanctioned countries.

Industry leaders have been lobbying fiercely to further loosen trade barriers. They argue that sanctions against Iran, Libya, Sudan, and other countries limit cultural and economic exchanges that could promote reform. In addition, they say, sanctions give unfair advantage to foreign companies not beholden to U.S. law. "When sanctions are proposed unilaterally, they almost never work -- and they end up shooting our guys in the foot," says William Reinsch of the National Foreign Trade Council, which spent $280,000 lobbying against sanctions in 2001.

But the point, critics say, is not whether sanctions work, but why major corporations are being allowed to sidestep the law. Sanctions enjoy broad, bipartisan support -- the most recent version of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act passed Congress by a vote of 409-6 -- and conservative Republicans have been among the most vocal champions of cutting off trade to countries that sponsor terrorist organizations. "By doing business in these countries, you are basically selling the rope that will be used to harm U.S. citizens," says Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.). "It's fundamentally immoral to me."

In April, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) called on the Pentagon to investigate Halliburton's business dealings with Iran and Libya, noting that the company also provides support for American military operations. "I think many people will be surprised to learn that a company receiving millions of taxpayer dollars to support the war on terrorism has had business deals with some of the leading state sponsors of terrorism," Waxman says. "Congress should determine whether companies are complying with the spirit and the letter of U.S. law."

At the state level, lawmakers and investors have decided to take action themselves. In January, a bill requiring public pension funds to disclose their dealings with sanctioned countries was introduced in Arizona. A month later, officials who manage pensions for public employees in New York City urged shareholders of General Electric, Halliburton, and ConocoPhillips to pass resolutions requiring the companies to disclose their contracts with Iran and Syria, another "state sponsor of terrorism," saying such trade deals "violate the spirit of the law."

Proponents of the resolutions say that shareholders have a legitimate stake in the issue: Using offshore subsidiaries to evade sanctions, they note, could hurt a firm's share prices. "In this climate we are in today, the reputation of a company could be tainted if it is perceived to have ties to states that are connected to terrorism," explains Kenneth Sylvester, assistant comptroller for New York.

The pressure has had an effect. After initial resistance, Halliburton agreed to reconsider its Iranian business, while Conoco-Phillips agreed to review both Iranian and Syrian operations, avoiding a potentially embarrassing vote by shareholders. For now, though, public pensions are still being invested in companies that do business with sanctioned countries -- pensions that include the retirement funds of New York police and firefighters who were killed at the World Trade Center. "You are talking about the sons and daughters and the wives of the people who died on September 11," says Joe Alejandro, treasurer of New York's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "They don't want money going to terrorists."
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments


LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 3 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Ethics Hick Cheney Sunday, Jul. 13, 2003 at 10:56 AM
Hick Cheney tricky pearl Sunday, Jul. 13, 2003 at 11:19 AM
Bush and the Libertarians back Gale Norton remove Norton from office Sunday, Jul. 13, 2003 at 11:33 AM

Local News

Change Links September 2018 posted S02 10:22PM

More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre A30 11:09PM

Site Outage Friday A30 3:49PM

Change Links August 2018 A14 1:56AM

Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land A12 11:09PM

More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke J29 10:40PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 8:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 7:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 7:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 11:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J11 6:58AM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M31 5:20AM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 7:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 8:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 9:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 10:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 9:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 8:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 8:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 11:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 8:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A27 5:37AM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A13 12:39AM

lausd whistle blower A11 6:58AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

test O06 10:01AM

test O06 9:59AM

test O06 9:59AM

100 Ways GOP Have Stolen Elections Since 1876 O06 12:03AM

Proximospective de l'univocité réifiée O05 6:27AM

“Kava-no!!!” O04 6:42PM

Trump & Palestine vs. Genesis, Rashi & The Land of Israel O03 6:29PM

The Criminality of the Elites O03 11:35AM

Business de l'inhumanitaire O03 7:51AM

Marriage Rape/Date Rape Highest Rapes O02 2:59PM

Women I Know Get Raped - Too Many Times To Count! O02 2:55PM

Women In USA Have Stockholm Syndrom O02 2:50PM

Shooting Drill's Are Political Actual Shootings O02 2:47PM

Dr. Ford's Father Works With CIA O02 2:44PM

Weaponizing Frequencies O02 2:41PM

Google Abuses: Worldwide Spying, Censorship, War Promotion, Spying On Children, Etc O02 11:08AM

Paraphysique de l'administration O02 8:34AM

Paraphysique O02 8:31AM

Affordable Rents? A State of Emergency Intensifies O01 11:36AM

A Few Of Many Impeachable Acts by Trump Sessions And Others O01 4:41AM

Désengrammation, l'éloge de la suite S30 7:01AM

someone Should Work In Hollywood - Good Acting! S28 2:55PM

Ford Gives Psych Drugs To Lower Class To Shut Them Up? S28 2:51PM

Hilllary Calls Ford Trailer Trash? S28 2:47PM

Most Rapes Are In Marriages S28 2:43PM

Nice Boys Dirty Deeds S28 2:41PM

Minnesota 2nd Largest Rape State S28 2:39PM

Paraphysique de la plus-value S28 7:18AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy