Cheney made a total of $44 million during his five years as Halliburton's CEO, resigning before accepting the vice presidential nomination.
"It's a great company," Cheney said on NBC last September. "There are fine people working for it."
But questions about Halliburton have less to do with how fine its employees may be, but rather, about the fact that Halliburton has become under the Bush administration the largest contractor in Iraq. With estimates of contracts totaling up to $18 billion, Halliburton was in some cases offered no-bid exclusive government contracts.
"Nobody has produced one single shred of evidence that there's anything wrong or inappropriate here, nothing but innuendo, and … basically political cheap shots is the way I would describe it," Cheney said on NBC's Meet the Press last Fall. "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now for over three years," he added.
But that is subject to debate. Cheney has $18 million-worth of unexercised stock options from Halliburton and he continues to receive a fixed deferred salary from the company, $178,437 last year, according to his 2003 tax returns. The Office of Government Ethics defines both as "retained ties" or "linkages" to a government official's former employee.
Cheney's office this week issued a statement saying that the vice president's deferred compensation was earned in 1999, is set in fixed installments for five years, "and is not affected by Halliburton's current economic performance or earnings in any way."
In a more recent scandal for Halliburton, Pentagon auditors recently said a subsidiary overstated the costs of feeding U.S. troops by at least $16 million. The controversies surrounding Halliburton have clearly grown to the point that even America's most feared foe, bin Laden, is using the symbol of the company for his own insidious and murderous ends.