The Guardian November 27, 2002


Corporate murder

Halliburton, the company that Dick Cheney resigned from to become US 
Vice President, and its subsidiaries have had more than a quarter of a 
million law suits filed against them since 1976 by workers suffering from 
asbestos-related disease.

Halliburton's (fundraising) political action committees (PACs) and Cheney 
contributed US$494,452 to congressional candidates from 1997 through mid-
2000.

Of that, US$157,500 went to members of Congress who co-sponsored asbestos 
legislation to limit the ability of workers to sue companies for asbestos 
exposure.

Halliburton defended their contributions and noted that they were made in 
full compliance with campaign laws.

"Our PAC has made contributions without regard to the pending asbestos 
legislation. Any similarities between the supporters of such legislation 
and the recipients of contributions from our PAC is purely coincidental", 
Zelma Branch, a company spokeswoman, said.

Dave Gribbins, Halliburton's vice president for government affairs, added, 
"We give money to candidates for a variety of reasons, usually to those who 
are supportive of the business agenda, the things that are important to us, 
like taxes, trade or something specific like this asbestos issue."

The Bill (which failed to pass) called for the establishment of an Office 
of Asbestos Compensation under the Justice Department.

Government-approved doctors, using criteria defined in the law, would be 
gatekeepers, issuing a pass to qualifying victims who wished to sue or seek 
a government-determined settlement.

Public-interest groups estimate that over the past 25 years, settlements 
have been made in more than one million asbestos cases industry-wide, and 
450,000 more may be pending.

Asbestos was used for decades in protective clothing, insulations, pipe 
coatings, fireproofing and many other industrial uses. Millions were 
exposed to the deadly fibres.

USAction, a health care consumer group affiliated with organisations 
including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; 
the Communication Workers of America; and the Service Employees 
International Union, opposed the legislation and didn't mince words when 
asked for its view.

"The Cheney-led Halliburton Co has been an integral part of an asbestos 
industry which knowingly poisoned its own workers for years and is still 
trying to get off the hook."

The industry is only interested in relieving corporations of their 
responsibilities to protect the health and safety of workers and compensate 
workers injured by their wrongdoing.

It's time the CEOs and management of corporations were punished for their 
crimes  the taking of workers' lives through exposure to asbestos is 
nothing short of murder in pursuit of profits. 


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