by Jim Ridley
"Bechtel engineered the oil infrastructure for the Standard Oil Company's burgeoning empire in Saudi Arabia, building pipelines, refineries, highways and ports. When Standard Oil's Aramco partnership in Saudi Arabia was nationalized, Bechtel didn't miss a beat. Instead, the company inaugurated a profitable new relationship with the Saudi royal family and went right to work building airports, military bases and an 850-mile long pipeline from Saudi Arabia to Jordan. "Somewhere along the line, the Bechtels encountered Saudi Arabia's largest construction company, which is also a family-run empire, called Bin Laden Construction. Founded by Osama's father, Mohammed Bin Laden, the Bin Laden firm worked on dozens of joint projects with the Bechtel Corporation, which had already perfected the art of subcontracting out hard labor to low-paid workers in the Third World. Outsourcing is a strategy that Bechtel is using in Iraq today, where 92 percent of its work there is subcontracted out. The Bin Ladens and Bechtels remain close to this day."Is that all? We're just gettin' warmed up. After the jump. More from St. Clair:
"When Iran antagonized US oil companies and the CIA by nationalizing their oil reserves, Allen Dulles and Kermit Roosevelt sought and received Bechtel's assistance in the CIA run coup that overthrew Mossadeq and installed the Shah. Bechtel provided a similar service in 1965 when the CIA instigated the bloody coup that toppled President Sukarno of oil-rich Indonesia and put into place the corrupt and iron-fisted regime of General Suharto."That's mere throat-clearing, though, in an article that amounts to a blood-boiling alternate history of the Iraq War. Here are some of the highlights:
"...No sanctions were ever leveled against the company for supplying Saddam's regime with the building blocks for restocking his chemical weapons arsenal...." "...In 1999, heeding to the lash of the World Bank and Clinton's State Department, the government of Bolivia agreed to privatize the public water utility in the city of Cochabamba. Under a bill pushed through the Bolivian parliament in October 1999, the government turned the management of the utility in this arid city to International Water, Inc., a subsidiary of Bechtel. Almost immediately, Bechtel jacked up the price of the monthly water bill to about $20, a staggering amount for citizens of a city where the average monthly income is around $100...." "...Connoisseurs of corporate crime will also recall Bechtel's joint venture with Enron to build and run the $2 billion natural gas power plant at Dabhol in the state of Maharashtra. The operations racked up a cruel litany of abuses from bribery of state officials to land theft, pollution and arrests of demonstrators on trumped up charges...."But at least they're good at building power plants, right? After all, they built the Hoover Dam, right? From CorpWatch:
"Consumers Energy of Michigan sued Bechtel for $300 million in 1974 when its Palisades plant broke down shortly after it started operation. Bechtel agreed to a $14 million settlement. "The Humboldt Bay reactor in California—built by Bechtel—had to be permanently shut down in 1977 because it sat directly on top of an earthquake fault. "In 1977, Bechtel installed the reactor vessel of California's San Onofre Unit 2 reactor 180 degrees backwards, a detail that went undiscovered for seven months."Oops.