Byline: Stephen J. Hedges
WASHINGTON _ On paper, the Houston-based Halliburton oil services company didn't fare well as 2003 ended. Fourth-quarter results issued last week showed a $947 million loss due to liabilities from asbestos-related cases.
And yet Halliburton's stock price rose with those financial results. Part of the increase may have been because Halliburton reported a 63 percent jump in revenues for the period, a jump the company said was due to "government related activities in the Middle East."
In short, Halliburton has reaped the benefits of becoming the premier U.S. company operating within the new Iraq, undertaking at least $7 billion in Pentagon-related work before, during and after the U.S. invasion last spring.
But lucrative as it may be, that work has also put Halliburton in the middle of a political controversy.
Over the last year, Halliburton has been accused of multimillion dollar overcharges and kickbacks linked to its ever-expanding Pentagon portfolio, one that some Bush administration critics suggest the company has built through White House …