James Baker

James Baker: Fixer for the War Profiteers?
James Baker

Maria Recio writes: "When Bush tapped longtime family adviser James A. Baker III to try to persuade U.S. allies to forgive Iraq's crushing $127 billion foreign debt, he summoned one of the country's most well-connected former officials for a difficult task. Now those same connections - a web of contacts that extends from his Houston law firm to the worlds of Washington insiders and financiers - are raising questions about potential conflicts of interest... [his law firm] Baker Botts also represents Halliburton Co... Pentagon officials recently alleged that Halliburton overcharged the U.S. government by $61 million for gasoline in Iraq. Halliburton has said that a Kuwaiti company, the only approved supplier, charged a high price for the gas. The Carlyle Group, with $17.5 billion in assets, has included other high-profile former leaders besides Baker and the former President Bush - who retired in October - such as former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci."

Baker Must Quit Carlyle and Baker Botts
James Baker

NY Times opines, "Mr. Baker must show that he will be free of any private business entanglements that could raise legitimate questions about his recommendations. If the administration needs a political reason for doing the right thing, it need only look at the deep suspicion raised about the Iraqi construction contracts doled out to Halliburton, a company that was run by Dick Cheney before he became vice president. Mr. Baker has agreed to forgo earnings from clients with obvious connections to Iraqi debts, a process that Baker Botts attorneys would supervise for the law firm and that the White House would oversee for the Carlyle Group. That is not good enough. Businesses like Carlyle and Baker Botts make their living by flaunting their connections to the politically powerful. To perform honorably in his new public job, Mr. Baker must give up these two private ones. "