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2005-01-12-Lautenberg—Bush Administration 

Harrison Weblog

2005 blog



Keeping up with Jewish officeholders
Lautenberg opens two fronts 
as Bush administration critic
,  Jan. 12, 2005

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has opened a two-front attack on President George W. Bush's administration. He called on Bush today Wednesdya, (Jan. 12) to remove radio commentator Armstrong Williams from the President's Commission on White House Fellowships during a "payola investigation," and he demanded on Monday (Jan. 10) that Halliburton Corporation—formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney—rescind an oil services contract with Iran.

Lautenberg was joined by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid in writing to Bush that "in light of the pending investigations into your Administration's ties with Mr. Williams, we believe it is appropriate to remove Mr. Williams from the President's Commission. In our view, Mr. Williams should not be affiliated with official White House offices while a determination of the legality of your Administration's $240,000 payment to him is pending."

The Department of Education had contracted with Williams company for preparation of a variety of commercials featuring Education Secretary Rod Paige and for interviewing Paige on his show and helping to have him interviewed by other African-American commentators on the "No Child Left Behind" program. (see previous story)

Lautenberg said the Government Acounting Office (GAO) is likely to begin an investigation of the contract, which Lautenberg described as "the latest in a series of actions by the Bush Administration to manipulate public opinion through covert propaganda."

The New Jersey Democrat also released a letter he had written on Monday to Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar concerning an Agence France Presse report that the company had won a $310 million contract from Iran to drill in gas fields in the Gulf off the south coast of Iran.

That letter said: "By developing Iran's oil and gas resources, you are helping provide Iran with the money it uses to fund terrorism…..Your company is already under investigation by a Federal Grand Jury in the Southern District of Texas for possible violations of our terrorist sanctions law, and I believe your latest actions show complete disregard for the spirit and letter of the law. Halliburton has, for many years, taken advantage of a loophole in sanctions law that allows transactions between a Halliburton foreign subsidiary and Iran. However, I am concerned that your company has moved further and further away from the realm of legality."

In a news release, Lautenberg said: "It's outrageous to me that a U.S. company would do business with a terrorist nation with absolutely no concerns that profits made from the business deal could be used to kill innocent Americans." has emailed a request to Halliburton for comment on Lautenberg's letter.                                                                —Donald H. Harrison