Who made the most money of all the contractors during the War On Iraq?

Houston-based energy-focused engineering and construction firm KBR, Inc. (NYSE:KBR), which was spun off from its parent, oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL), in 2007.

The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms, such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks, as reported by Bloomberg.

And how did it come to pass that private contractors developed a profit opportunity in American war-making?

In 1992, the Pentagon, then under Cheney’s direction, paid Texas-based Brown & Root Services $3.9 million to produce a classified report detailing how private companies — like itself — could help provide logistics for American troops in potential war zones around the world. BRS specializes in such work; from 1962 to 1972, for instance, the company worked in the former South Vietnam building roads, landing strips, harbors, and military bases. Later in 1992, the Pentagon gave the company an additional $5 million to update its report. That same year, BRS won a massive, five-year logistics contract from the US Army Corps of Engineers to work alongside American GIs in places like Zaire, Haiti, Somalia, Kosovo, the Balkans, and Saudi Arabia.

And Halliburton owned Brown & Root, the company that launched the war-zone privatization study under SecDef Cheney. Who then became the

CEO of Halliburton Company, the Dallas-based oil services giant — which just happens to own Brown & Root Services. Since then, Cheney has collected more than $10 million in salary and stock payments from the company. In addition, he is currently [in 2000] the company’s largest individual shareholder, holding stock and options worth another $40 million. Those holdings have undoubtedly been made more valuable by the ever-more lucrative contracts BRS continues to score with the Pentagon.

It’s not over, of course.

Even though the military has largely pulled out of Iraq, private contractors remain on the ground and continue to reap U.S. government contracts. For example, the U.S. State Department estimates that taxpayers will dole out $3 billion to private guards for the government’s sprawling embassy in Baghdad.

There has never been anyone in public life like the self-selected Vice President to GWB. And, should it come to pass there ever is again, could America survive it? Have we even survived Dick?

Photo by KLW NFC under Creative Commons license