Return to the red planet with Dick Cheney
Halliburton executives apparently regard Mars as a potential profit center, according to today's Washington Post. As reported in this A1 story by Mike Allen and Greg Schneider, the vice president's former employer has been promoting the notion of drilling the Red Planet for several years. The Post cites a 2000 article from Oil & Gas Journal by Steve Streich, a "veteran Halliburton scientific adviser," as "an example of private industry's hunger for a Mars mission." Streich promoted the Mars mission not only for the sake of knowledge and exploration but also because it would improve "our abilities to support oil and gas demands on Earth" by advancing technology.
In other words, NASA would pay Halliburton and other firms billions of dollars to perform research and development on Mars-bound technologies that they would use for profitable exploration on this planet. No doubt those scientific advances would be useful here long before anybody lands on Mars.
Nothing wrong with any of that, of course -- but isn't Dick Cheney the blustering guy who once boasted that "the government had absolutely nothing to do with" the millions he earned at Halliburton?
That notion is a big lie -- both in Cheney's own case and in historical terms. Halliburton and its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, have always depended quite heavily on federal favors and contracts -- and they have profited from the space program from the beginning. Back in its bipartisan days, they built what is now the Johnson Space Center near Houston. A Brown & Root unit is still the prime contractor there -- so to whatever extent Bush expands the NASA budget, Halliburton is certain to benefit.
Although I posted Monday's Halliburton item with tongue in cheek, there is no doubt that Cheney's old company is at the center of the space-industrial complex. (I never suggested, however, that Halliburton wants to "drill for oil" on Mars, as an indignant but rather dim blogger complained.)
Check out the new Columbia Journalism Review campaign coverage blog. Overseen by Michael Hoyt and other talented journalists, Campaign Desk has already done useful service by scorching that stupid ABC News "investigative" piece about the former Vermont state trooper who beat his wife. It's amazing that Peter Jennings would lend his prestige to such worthless junk -- but then it's amazing that ABC News would still entrust its airtime to Chris Vlasto, the producer who doubled as a junior G-man for Ken Starr.
[12:30 p.m. PST, January 16, 2004]