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Context of 'April 17, 2003: USAID Awards Reconstruction Contract to Bechtel'

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The US State Department invites Bechtel officials to Washington to discuss plans for constructing the proposed Iraq-Jordan Aqaba oil pipeline. Former Bechtel president George Shultz is US Secretary of State at this time. (Vallette 3/24/2003)

Bechtel wins a second contract from USAID to work on rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure. Work will include the “repair of power generation facilities, electrical grids, municipal water systems and sewage systems; continued rehabilitation or repair of airport facilities; and additional dredging, repair and upgrading of the seaport at Umm Qasr.” The company will also “repair and build government and public facilities such as schools, selected ministry buildings and major irrigation structures, as well as restore essential transport links.” The contract has the potential to be worth as much as $1.8 billion. (US Agency for International Development 1/6/2004; Chaffin and Dinmore 1/7/2004)

The US Agency for International Development (AID) announces that it has contracted California-based engineering firm Bechtel Corp to repair and rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure. The contract is worth $34.6 million initially, and up to $680 million over 18 months. Specifically, Bechtel will assess and repair power generation facilities, electrical grids, municipal water and sewage systems, and airport facilities. The company will also dredge, repair, and upgrade the Umm Qasr seaport. Additional projects may include rebuilding hospitals, schools, ministry buildings, major irrigation structures, and the country’s transportation infrastructure. (US Agency for International Development 4/17/2003) Some experts believe that Bechtel’s contract could ultimately be worth as much as $20 billion. (Becker 5/21/2003) The bidding process draws criticism from various congressional Democrats and British companies who say that the process was overly secretive and limited. Only a small number of US-based construction companies were allowed to take part in the bidding. (Becker and Oppel 4/18/2003) The company’s connections to the US government also brings about allegations of cronyism.
bullet Bechtel’s CEO, Riley P. Bechtel, currently serves on the President’s Export Council, which advises the White House on how to create markets for American companies abroad. (Becker and Oppel 4/18/2003)
bullet The company’s senior vice president, Jack Sheehan, is a member of a Pentagon advisory group called the Defense Policy Board, whose members are directly approved by the Defense Secretary. (Burkeman 4/18/2003)
bullet One of its board members is George Shultz, who served as secretary of state under the Reagan administration and who currently leads the advisory board of a pro-war group called the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. (Baker 4/18/2003; Burkeman 4/18/2003)
bullet Daniel Chao, a Bechtel senior vice president, serves on the advisory board of the US Export-Import Bank. (Chatterjee 4/24/2003)


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