ARAMCO’s primary construction contractor is Bechtel, a shadowy San Francisco-based private company that is the largest engineering firm in the world.
Laton McCartney’s book Friends in High Places chronicles Bechtel’s close ties to the US State Department and the CIA, which uses the company as an “asset” due to Bechtel’s penchant for mega-projects in remote areas of the world.
Wherever the Four Horsemen roam, Bechtel eyes and ears are close behind. In oil-rich Venezuela it constructed the Mena Grande pipeline. In Saudi Arabia it built ARAMCO’s “industrial city” at Jubail, the world’s largest industrial project ever.
Bechtel built Japan’s Tokyo Narita Airport and the convention center for the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. It built Egypt’s Aswan Dam, the Euro-Disney Theme Park and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Most every dam in the US was built by Bechtel, including the massive Hoover Dam.
It built the nation’s first nuclear power plant for ARCO in Idaho in 1951 and builds most every nuclear and electrical power plant of any size in the world. It also builds military installations and seaports. Pick your modern engineering marvel and there is a good chance it was built by Bechtel.
The firm is owned by the Bechtel family and currently run by Stephen Bechtel who in 1973 met personally with King Fahd to plan the Jubail Project.
Bechtel is currently a leader in the move to privatize Third World water systems and a major backer of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. In 1999 Bechtel took over the provincial water system of Cochabamba, Bolivia. According to Bolivian activist Oscar Oliviera of the Coalition for the Defense of Water and Life, the World Bank promoted the water grab on behalf of Bechtel’s Aqua Sentuary subsidiary.
Giving new meaning to the word “privatization”, rural Bolivian farmers saw their private water wells seized by the state and were forced to hook up to the Bechtel grid. Fees shot up 300% for city dwellers who were suddenly spending 25% of their monthly income on water.
Bolivian peasants responded with four months of blockades and protests from January to April 2000. A few were killed, hundreds injured and thousands jailed by a Bechtel-beholden Bolivian government. Finally, the government was forced to cancel the Bechtel contract. In February 2002 at a secret World Bank court, Bechtel sued the provincial government for $25 million, claiming a loss of profits for the next 40 years.
Bechtel has, along with ARAMCO, enjoyed quasi-governmental status for five decades in the Middle East. Past Bechtel directors include Kennedy CIA Deputy Director John McMahone and Reagan cabinet officials Secretary of State George Schulz, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger and Arms Control Adviser Kenneth Timmerman.
George Schultz, who was Bechtel chairman before his Reagan appointment, returned to the Bechtel board in the early 1990’s and also joined the board at Chevron. CIA Directors Bill Casey and Richard Helms both worked for Bechtel as did Philip Habib, the Carter Middle East envoy who produced the Camp David treaty between Egypt and Israel.
As of 1978 Stephen Bechtel and co-founder John McMahone owned 40% of Bechtel stock, while the other 60% was held by 60 Bechtel executives. Bechtel owns 15% of Peabody Coal and a big chunk of the Dillon Read investment bank, where Bush Sr. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady worked. Bechtel set up the Fremont Group as a holding company for Bechtel Energy Resources, Bechtel Investments Realty, Crown Pacific, Offshore Bechtel Exploration and Coldwell Banker.
Coldwell is one of the nation’s largest real estate firms and was purchased from the Carlyle Group, where James Baker III, George Bush Sr. and Frank Carlucci now work. As of 1994 the board of Fremont Group included Stephen Bechtel, Eisenhower Defense Secretary Cordell Hull, George Schultz and Citibank chairman Walter Wriston.
In Saudi Arabian business ventures, foreign companies are required to work through agents who are Saudi nationals. Bechtel recruited an ARAMCO dispatcher named Sulaiman Olayan to be its partner in forming the Saudi Arabian Bechtel Company. Olayan, a penniless working class Shi’ite, would own 50% of the new company and became an instant billionaire.
Before the arrival of the Four Horsemen, Saudi Arabia had been a fairly egalitarian society. So had Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Most modern day billionaire oil sheiks had been truck drivers, mechanics and pearl divers.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com