Skip to main content

tv   QA  CSPAN  April 18, 2016 5:49am-6:49am EDT

5:49 am
we think we need competition in a set-top box market. some places it works, some places it has not. this is one place where it really has not. gethink consumers would better choices and lower prices if we had some vigorous competition. >> the answer in terms of what is delivered over the cable network is no because a set-top box is a component of the network. the most efficient way to design and deliver cable television service, so it is the cheapest way and most efficient way to do it. the companies would prefer a market if it was more efficient. >> what's the communicators tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span two.
5:50 am
♪ reporter: this week on "q&a" sally denton, as she talks about her book "the profiteers," which takes a look at the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. brian lamb: sally denton, author of "the profiteers." in your notes section you write this, i was denied access to caspar weinberger's papers. why? sally denton: i was really shocked about that and it turns out it is not really shocking at all, that a lot of public officials who give their papers to the library of congress, with restrictions that keep them from the public for as long as the family wants, and it was the library and -- librarian of
5:51 am
congress that made the arrangement with caspar weinberger's family or maybe with him personally, that they would be restricted and the son would determine who would be able to view them. i was surprised but i have learned through my friend, that it is a usual thing. i thought that maybe you would put personal papers in a situation like that, what not -- but not papers related to your position as secretary of defense or secretary of state. brian lamb: what difference does that make to you in this book? sally denton: i think it would have created a treasure trove of documents for me relating to his role as secretary of defense, and i was looking specifically for his relationship with and the sentencing referendum for
5:52 am
the jonathan pollard case. brian lamb: how does that relate to your book? sally denton: jonathan pollard had been spying for israel, as we all now know, and he had, among the things he had given the israelis back in 1985, evidence of american companies building chemical plants in the middle east for israel's enemies and caspar weinberger became very interested in making sure that pollard did not get an easy sentence. brian lamb: you say neither the nnsa was not helpful or forthcoming? sally denton: it is actually an autonomous agency within the department of energy, and it is in charge of the maintenance of the nuclear weapons laboratory,
5:53 am
which figures prominently in my book. brian lamb: why? sally denton: bechtel, the company i'm writing about manages most of the nuclear weapons complex at this point. there are 17 labs and i was focused primarily on lawrence livermore the weapons lab. , brian lamb: bechtel is what? sally denton: bechtel is the first major multinational company from the american west which is why it interested me because i am from the west, fourth generation nevadan and i grew up in the town that was their signature project way back in the 1930's. bechtel is the quintessential multinational company that is involved in all aspects of construction and engineering throughout the world.
5:54 am
brian lamb: how cooperative was bechtel with your project? sally denton: i didn't really, i initially contacted bechtel early on when i was first researching it and they directed me to the company website. i had actually been there before i had even written my book proposal to simon & schuster, so i was familiar with the website, but they directed me to the online press kit, and then when i found that everything i needed was not only available on the website, but there were three corporate histories that are very intensive, dating back through several generations, so between that i did not really need any more from the corporate spokesperson. i did apply for a media fellowship at the hoover institute, which is where i had been for my previous two books,
5:55 am
specifically with the interest of interviewing both stephen bechtel junior and george shultz, an executive and i was denied that fellowship. brian lamb: why? sally denton: they said it was because my project did not relate closely to any of the scholars there, and i could not imagine a book project that was more relevant to the hoover institute which is very supported, long-standing support from the bechtel family and henry kissinger was also there at the time who had been a bechtel consultant. i figured, if this book is not relevant, i will never write a book that is, apparently. brian lamb: is george shultz still attached to hoover? sally denton: yes. brian lamb: let's go back when he was being confirmed in the
5:56 am
united states senate, joe biden is in the chair during the confirmation hearing. joe biden: are you going to go back to bechtel? >> i have no plans, no invitation, i have not given any hot to what i will do. joe biden: let me tell you why i asked, there have been a number of questions on my colleagues who have done a lot of research on bechtel and its relationship with the arab world and everyone is aware of the saudi policy among others in regard to whom they deal with, if they deal with the israelis. if in fact you were, some are going to suggest to you that if in fact you are required to take the position in the interest of the united states of america that was viewed as being very supportive of israel and against the interest of saudi arabia, that you might very well be reluctant to do so because you would know that that would prevent you from ever being able
5:57 am
to reassume a position at bechtel. >> oh no. i do not have any such concern in my mind at all. brian lamb: that was 1982. there is a lot in there that i want to ask you about. he became secretary of state until 1989. did he ever go back to bechtel? sally denton: he went immediately back to bechtel and remains there, quite elderly. he went immediately back and was an active participant in the company since then. brian lamb: does that make a difference to you? sally denton: you know, this is not a, i think what the main thrust of this book and what was surprising to me, this is not a gotcha story. this company is particularly interesting because it is one of the largest privately owned companies, so it does not have the same transparency that other public corporations do.
5:58 am
i think that that kind of revolving door, the weinberger , that revolving door who -- has become common so it does not seem unusual anymore. at the time, it was really the beginning of, i would argue that bechtel created the revolving door, that there was never a company more integral with the u.s. government. i mean, the cooling off period that is standard, it is almost a joke. nobody pays attention anymore. the lines are so blurred, to see joe biden, senator biden talking about that at that time, i cannot imagine that even being a discussion these days. it is so rare on capitol hill for someone to question a nominee about his corporate ties.
5:59 am
brian lamb: george shultz, secretary of labor, director of office of management and budget, executive vice president at bechtel, president and director of bechtel, secretary of state, director and senior counsel at bechtel. is he still on the board? sally denton: i don't know. everything relating to the board of directors and shareholders, all of that you have to take it face value because they are not required to file anything with the security exchange commission or shareholder reports. what his relationship is or his family's relationship is is not declared. brian lamb: on weinberger, secretary of defense, chairperson of the federal trade commission, vice president of general counsel, secretary of
6:00 am
defense. you focus a lot on both weinberger and george shultz in the book. tell us why. sally denton: not really. i focus a lot on that era, the reagan revolution as it relates to the expansion of bechtel throughout the world, the expansion of the american west as a power center, and so reagan coming, both men, as you have said had been in the nixon administration also a california political figure, but the theme of the book beginning with the hoover dam, which really was the first megaproject, the creation of a public-private development that made california possible, made the american southwest
6:01 am
possible. i really focus on, it is really just a few chapters of that era, but the reagan era for me really represented a shift in economic power to the west. it was the sagebrush rebellion, much of what we see now going on with cliven bundy, the impulse underneath the surface came to the forefront during the reagan revolution. for him to tap bechtel executives to come into the cap -- into the cabinet was really, i think, newsworthy. brian lamb: before we go on with the bechtel story, one time in your life you work for jack anderson. sally denton: i sure did. brian lamb: and, i think, i have some things you said about him, but before i get to that, why did you work for him and when
6:02 am
did you work for him? sally denton: i worked for him in 1977 and 1978. i had been with a local newspaper in northern new mexico, and was just starting out in journalism and had had a series of explosive stories about the murders of young women tied to drug conspiracies, and jack brought me to washington as an intern initially and then hired me as a staff reporter. brian lamb: how long did you work for him? sally denton: i think i was there close to two years. after that i went to kentucky. brian lamb: you write, like all great mortals jack anderson had , feet of clay. he entered into business partnerships with nefarious characters, squandered an empire that by all rights belong to the public trust, protected sources who were manipulating him, allowed his ego to dictate his judgment and abandoned those who were most devoted to him. sally denton: when i arrived there, he was legendary.
6:03 am
most people do not even know who he was. i grew up, my father was a lawyer to the publisher of the las vegas "sun" for many years, and drew pearson, who was jack anderson's project, he had been actively involved when it joe mccarthy was taking him on and he was trying to get hank indicted for murder. there was a long-standing relationship between drew pearson jack anderson, , washington merry-go-round column and las vegas, nevada. when i arrived here, when i arrived in washington to work for jack, he was in the 1000 -- in 1000 newspapers. we had good morning america three days a week, mutual broadcast radio five days a week. it was a wonderful empire and i
6:04 am
was just thinking the other day, it was astounding for the interns. we had every week, there would be huge gunnysack mailbags from people all over the country saying, you need to come to my town and look at the corruption here, my city council, my county commission, my governor is corrupt. it was so rampant, it was stunning. in the end when i say he squandered it, there was so much talent when i was there. clark mullen health, james gravy, joe sphere, it was a hotbed of journalistic minds journalism was respected, on the forefront of investigative reporting, on the heels of watergate.
6:05 am
it was really heavy stuff, and jack was unable to really relinquish any control to any of the talent that was there and he was just hanging on and hanging on and ended up losing all of the, many of the papers he had as syndication fell apart. it was just a sad relinquishment, i thought. brian lamb: i cannot find this one, but it seems i read somewhere where you may have been critical of bob woodward. sally denton: i don't think so. brian lamb: let's go back to the book, "the profiteers." what was the original title? sally denton: the original title was "behemoth." it wasn't until -- well the whole book changed. i grew up in boulder city and my -- when i first started exploring this book, i had done a cover story for science and technology magazine on the 75th
6:06 am
anniversary of the hoover dam and i left boulder city in 1970 and was going home to visit family, i had not been back. when i started looking at bechtel as a book project, i had no idea they had gone on for five generations and expanded throughout the entire universe, basically doing asteroids. i called it behemoth. once i got deep into the research, four years of research and writing, once i got deep into the research, there was a quote from the gao about the profiteering. i cannot remember the exact quote, but never before have there been so much money made by so few men at the taxpayer expense, and i thought this was more about profiteering than it is about anyone company. brian lamb: have they ever done anything illegal? sally denton: i don't think so. that is one of the other
6:07 am
stunning things, that all of this is legal. [laughter] this is how i write that this is , not a biography of this family as a as another thing i found going on, the family was really not interesting. they were interesting for what they represented, not for themselves as characters. they were representative of a larger thrust and philosophy of american business and american politics and american foreign policy. brian lamb: where did stephen bechtel senior fit in all of the bechtels? sally denton: the company starts with warren bechtel who was an old-fashioned american western. the hoover dam was really his project with his protege. it was called six companies, but
6:08 am
there were actually eight companies. this was a huge hoover project, to channel the colorado, the raging colorado river to provide water and irrigation and electricity primarily to southern california. bechtel got the contract with, eight companies but they called themselves, six companies after the chinese family. there was no company in the american west that was big enough to tackle this job. there was arguably not a company in the east. all of these companies came together to put up the money and to get the bid to build this dam.
6:09 am
brian lamb: is kaiser the same one that built the car, the hj kaiser automobile? sally denton: i think so and also the panama canal. brian lamb: here is a video of stephen bechtel senior, assuming not alive anymore. sally denton: no. brian lamb: let's watch this. >> we received considerable press, comments about what would happen. i discussed it with my father. meanwhile, my father had been talking with his friends in the utah construction company, and i believe they approached dad and dad talked with henry kaiser who was a partner about whether we ought to be interested in the investment or not. we knew it was a big job, an
6:10 am
important job, new had to be done well. there was a certain amount of expertise that no one had had before. from that group of people that were there, or some of the strongest men in the construction industry. brian lamb: what was he like and how important was he to the building of the company? sally denton: i think he was really significant in taking the company to the next phase. in fact, all of these generations, five generations of bechtel men and they all do that in their own way. his father, warren, died quite young under mysterious circumstances in moscow in 1933, and stephen senior, it is really just stephen, but he names his son stephen, so i designate between senior and junior and others do, too. he is the one after the dam was built, warren did not see to
6:11 am
live the dam built, and when he died there was a struggle for the bechtel family fortune and company, and stephen, the middle son ended up taking charge. it was his relationship with john mccone, who was a college classmate from uc berkeley that really signifies his relationship with john mccone who had worked for consolidated , steel which provided all of the steel for the hoover dam, a massive contract, as you can imagine, and also a relative of his wife, john simpson who was partners with the schroeder firm in new york. this really launched bechtel from a relatively small, not
6:12 am
small but in the american west, huge, but still an american company and launched it into the international intrigue leading into world war ii. he became director of the cia under john f. kennedy. brian lamb: how long was he there? sally denton: he was not there very long. lbj did keep them on for a short time after the kennedy assassination. brian lamb: was he a republican or a democrat? or did that matter? sally denton: he was a republican, although i do not know if that matters. they had all been forged from this radical reactionary anti-communist, russian containment, soviet containment policy that was driving american foreign policy at the time, and he was very representative of that. brian lamb: why did he leave the cia?
6:13 am
sally denton: i am not sure why he left the cia. i did not really go into that. at that time, he had broken, not broken, but it was no longer bechtel-mccone, so i did not shift much into that, until he goes on to be a director for itt and was involved in the coup in chile. brian lamb: did any of the bechtels serve in government? sally denton: no. well, they serve on different think tanks, foreign policy advisement. i think the junior was on the executive bank or one of the advisory. they are in and out of advisory positions, not really in government. brian lamb: this is a bit tedious but i want to read a paragraph, not the whole thing, just so people have an
6:14 am
understanding of the kind of thanks bechtel has been contracted to do. you say, specializing in what it calls multi-year megaprojects, it receives $24 billion in new contracts during 2013. it's 55,000 employees, most of whom are subcontractors, are divided into different services. its website lists dozens of signature projects that read like a roundup of every high profile undertaking of the world. the channel tunnel project between britain and france, the quarterorridor door -- -- corridor metrorail in washington dc, the bay area rapid transit system, the san francisco-oakland bay bridge. is that the new one? sally denton: no, that is the old one.
6:15 am
brian lamb: the big dig, tip o'neill's big project, speaker of the house and what happened with that? sally denton: i mean, you know, when i started looking at all of this and i saw a piece in construction magazine yesterday on various projects in the world, i cannot keep up with all of these projects and every single one of them is a complete story in and of itself. there was a book written recently which delves deeply into the project and the kind of things i think are synonymous with bechtel, which is cost overruns, safety violations. the boston globe did a
6:16 am
significant expo say, that must have been their spotlight team. -- i justs one of the looked at the public record on that, i did not dive into it, delve into it myself. brian lamb: the cia, here is video where they had to pay him -- pay out almost $400 million. >> we are here to announce that an agreement has been reached between the united states in the management consultants for the tunnel project which is known as the big dig, as well as several of the big dig designers. the big dig management consultant, bechtel, bechtel infrastructure corporation has agreed to pay the united states and the commonwealth over $407 million to resolve criminal and civil liabilities in the defects
6:17 am
of the walls of the tip o'neill tunnel. brian lamb: at the time, it was $100 billion plus and you alluded to the fact that bechtel has the cost plus contract. did they start that? sally denton: i think bechtel senior and john mccone, that was their creation. plus and a turnkey were you do a complete project, turn it over and the owner turns it on. that was, again, that is like the revolving door with multinational business models throughout the world. i think they were the first company that came up with that, which as you know, you have a contract for a cost in the government guarantees you a
6:18 am
percentage of 10% to 30% profit. brian lamb: in your book, you go on to say, the construction of 95 airports throughout the world including hong kong international, london, doah, las vegas. it is built 17,000 miles of roads, 100 tunnels, 30 bridges, 2500 entire communities, including the futuristic saudi arabian city. is there any other company in the world as large, construction company as bechtel? sally denton: i don't think so. i think engineering record named it the largest construction company in the world. it is very difficult to explore sometimes because there are all of these consortiums.
6:19 am
one of the spending things again, the book is so full of ironies, there was so little litigation. you would think, you just went and through the litany of these projects throughout the world, and i kept thinking, well, how come their rivals are not suing them? where are the competitors here? you would think the courts would be filled with lawsuits and terminations. there finally was one of those. i realize in the midst of this, because i am very research intensive, that is the kind of work i do, and this is my eighth book and i had a fantastic fellowship at the library of congress with research access that i have never had before. brian lamb: that was the $50,000
6:20 am
fellowship. did they just get that to you? sally denton: well, it is based on the research project so i had applied for that. brian lamb: when did you get that? sally denton: i was there during the fall of 2014 in spring of 2015. brian lamb: how did you get it? sally denton: i applied through the black mountain institute in las vegas, and there are several writing fellowships there and i had applied for a fellowship which is a $60,000 fellowship at the black mountain institute because i thought that this would be very nevada-centric, this book. the director called me and said, i think you may be interested in this fellowship at the library of congress, and i jumped at that opportunity. brian lamb: how did they determine that you were the one? sally denton: i don't know.
6:21 am
i know that the librarian personally selects bids. he personally selected the fellow, a relationship he had with the black mountain institute, which is something senator harry reid helped get for unlv. it is a fantastic fellowship. to answer your question, what was the question? [laughter] researching the different projects throughout the world, and the extensive, the reach of that? when i first had applied to the black mountain, i thought i would be doing my research and nevada and thought it was a real western company, and it was not until i got to the library of congress and started looking at the contracts that it had with
6:22 am
the u.s. government that not only is it the largest department of energy contractor, it is one of the top department of defense contractors as well. brian lamb: background, he owned metromedia corporation. he gave $69 million to the library of congress that helps fund these projects, sold his company for $4 billion years ago. do they have any expectations once they give you that $50,000, can you write anything you want? sally denton: well, you are supposed to write whatever they gave you, it is like the guggenheim, you are given it for a particular project. if you, you know, at the thrust of your scholarly approach changes, i am sure that would be fine, but i just know i am still
6:23 am
at the black mountain institute at unlv right now and looking at the applications for the fellowship right now, and selecting everyone, and there are a lot, a lot of the fellowships are for fiction, so i'm really focused on the nonfiction ones there. brian lamb: what would bechtel be today without the united states government? sally denton: they were building dams. warren had a couple meals and a steam shovel, and i think it is one of the ironies to be so antigovernment and your entire fortuneh your entire owe your entire fortune to the government. brian lamb: how were they
6:24 am
antigovernment? sally denton: basically, anti-regulation, let's keep government out of our business, just allow us to do our work. they support anti--or free-trade candidates. their rhetoric is all about privacy and letting this company do what it thinks is in the best interest of the united states, anti-first amendment, anti-press. brian lamb: how are the anti-first amendment? sally denton: they are anti-any exposure or transparency. brian lamb: would you be transparent if you are a private company like they are? sally denton: no, i think that is the reason they are a private company. i think one of the obvious questions is and you alluded to it, if not bechtel who? who else is united states going to get to build these projects throughout the world? if the american taxpayer is -- it is fine because if the american taxpayer is paying for
6:25 am
it it seems the american , taxpayer should have some access to information about the contracts, the amount of money, the workers' safety, the political relationships. brian lamb: where is their main headquarters located? sally denton: san francisco. they have offices throughout the world. i just read yesterday the main headquarters for the middle east division is in west virginia. it had been in maryland and was recently moved to virginia, so apparently now in west virginia, but they have offices all over the world. brian lamb: here is bechtel corporation video and this will move the subject over to the middle east so we can get your background on that. >> it was jobs like hoover dam and the bay bridge that taught steve senior to think big. in 1940, he built a pipeline and
6:26 am
a road through a venezuelan jungle that set the stage for meeting the nation's call for global work during times of crisis. in the 1940's, the bechtel brothers mobilized for world war ii. across frozen, unexplored yukon countries, they built a 16 mile -- mile pipeline to get military 1600 field to alaska. they built liberty ships, tanks and bases across the pacific. in 1944, steve gave saudi prince a model tanker, a harbinger of the oil projects they would soon undertake in saudi arabia. in -- one of the first jobs, the trans-arabian pipeline that helped fuel europe's postwar recovery. brian lamb: how much did they make over the pipeline? sally denton: i do not remember what the prophets were -- pro
6:27 am
fits were, but they were really precedent setting in that this is the first company to really go into the middle east at a time that was just being developed for, if you look at the bechtel company, it starts with the, after hoover dam it is the road, the automobile had just been developed in the roads and then they needed roads and got the first government contract to build a highway in california, and then oil, and then they expand more oil for the vehicles, so they are at the forefront of the whole industrialization of america at that time, and it was those relationships that steve bechtel senior developed that came throughout the middle east would go on to not just enrich them but to serve a purpose for american expansionism abroad. brian lamb: what else have they done in saudi arabia? sally denton: they built palaces and the entire infrastructure and move from there into kuwait and yemen.
6:28 am
basically throughout the middle east, but you know, to me, when i began i started thinking there was a couple quotes about, we were ambassadors with bulldozers and a lot of these countries would say, first comes bechtel and then comes the u.s. government, and initially i started thinking, when i started the project, i thought that bechtel was the corporate arm of the u.s. government, a model forged with the hoover dam that overtook the u.s. army corps of engineers and became america's builder, and by the end of the book, generations later, i started thinking the government was more like the public policy arm of bechtel than the other way around. brian lamb: what impact did george shultz and weinberger have on getting government contracts?
6:29 am
sally denton: i think they weighed heavily in influence, when you have somebody with that stature, and certainly when you have people like that representing the company abroad and foreign lands, that conveys to the governments in these foreign lands, this company has the full support of the government behind them. brian lamb: here is a man i used to see a lot of in the reagan administration. he was the u.s. aid administrator, building things in the middle east. let's watch this interview we did in the middle east back in 2003. >> we will see an improvement in public service that affect the great mass of the iraqi people within the next two months, electricity system, water system, a critical part of what you need in an arid climate and what you need for public service.
6:30 am
you have to have electricity and we now have made an agreement to the ambassador for bechtel and the other contractors we have in year two essentially provide the overall management and the accountability system and the purchase of equipment like generators. brian lamb: i understand he worked for bechtel before he had this job. sally denton: i think he oversaw part of the big dig project. there was some sort of historical relationship there. brian lamb: did paul grammar -- paul brummel work for bechtel? sally denton: he obviously oversaw the distribution of the contracts, the major contracts that bechtel got in iraq which turned out to be disastrous, pretty much.
6:31 am
brian lamb: why? sally denton: the inspector general's report was devastating toward the results of the iraq reconstruction. brian lamb: were they penalized in any way? sally denton: i don't think they were penalized. they kind of abandoned, after losing several employees who had been killed, it was not the success that they had hoped and they did not get the profits they were expecting. they did not get the profits -- also relating to the children's hospital. brian lamb: how many of their contracts with united states government are sole sourced, the only ones that compete for and they get it directly? sally denton: you know, i think that is impossible to know. when you are looking at the
6:32 am
department of energy and defense, and sources without a bid. all of that is, you have to take them at face value because many of these projects, because the -- because of the nature of national security, we do not even know, the taxpayer does not even know how much they are for. they have to have classified clearances, and the contractors have to be, have to have their own security clearances and much of it is so shrouded in just, especially now since post-9/11, shrouded in the whole national security realm of mystery and lack of exposure. brian lamb: you know if ellen reeves?low named matt sally denton: i do not know them, that he said my sources, he loves my sources.
6:33 am
brian lamb: he did say various left-wing obsessions make regular appearances in "the profiteers." what do you say to that? various left-wing obsessions concerning for instance, richard nixon and the cia make , appearances in "the profiteers." sally denton: i don't know if they are appearances. one of the, i know he pointed out a factual inaccuracy i identified, the national security advisor all lower caps when he was part of the staff. i actually wrote a letter to the editor and said in the years i was married to roger morris he always referred to himself as a national security advisor in all lower caps so i decided to use the primary source there.
6:34 am
brian lamb: you wrote a book with roger morris? sally denton: i did. brian lamb: when were you married? sally denton: until 1991. brian lamb: he was involved in the kennedy ministration? sally denton: not kennedy, johnson. johnson and eisenhower. he worked for nixon and left a during the invasion of cambodia, long before i was married to him or was even in washington with jack anderson. brian lamb: bechtel's success has long been grist for observers like miss denton. she is so consumed with tarring
6:35 am
bechtel as a military industrial prototype that she never addresses a fundamental question, how does the company function at the ground level? clearly bechtel employees engineers, managers and workers with knowledge and prowess needed to complete massive projects of intricate design. alas, such people are largely invisible in this corporate, or empire, account. he worked for george w. bush 2001 to 2005. what is your reaction? sally denton: i think he is right. i am really focused on the military-industrial prototypes there, and i think all of the americans should be. i do not agree that i do not address the workmanship on the ground. i have several chapters about many of the projects and exactly what kind of, dating back to the hoover dam, exactly what the working conditions were all the way up to the massive layoff at the laboratory and the cleanup,
6:36 am
the disasters cleanup in -- the disastrous cleanup in washington. i mean, there are many chapters related to exactly what he says i did not address. brian lamb: the lawrence livermore laboratory was controversial because of why? sally denton: the laboratory, in -- and most americans do not even know this, under president george w. bush in 2007, the nuclear weapons complex was privatized with bechtel at the helm and they got their billion-dollar contract to manage several of the facilities but i really focus on livermore. these were the crown jewels of the manhattan project, so this
6:37 am
is where the bombs are made or being made or were being made, now being modernized. it was always done as a kind of, always managed by the university of california consortium, dating back to oppenheimer, and always part of keeping nuclear weapons out of private industry. when the labs were effectively privatized by bush with bechtel, they came in and fired 450 people. this was the place i was able to get a little bit of window of transparency into the company that i had not been able to before, because most of their contracts, their labor relations throughout the world require arbitration, which is effectively a private judicial,
6:38 am
i remarked earlier, there was such a lack of litigation involving this company, so, then i realized it is because they are all in arbitration which is not have theou do same rules of evidence sherry -- evidentairy discovery. there was an opening for a lawyer in california to file a wrongful termination lawsuit on behalf of of 140 of them which opened it up for discovery, and that was just a gold mine of information for me. brian lamb: do you have any idea how much the bechtel family has made over the years? sally denton: hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions. they report these from time to time on their website, but you
6:39 am
just have to take them at their word. brian lamb: you have a quote beside each of the bechtels in the front of the book. we talked about stephen bechtel senior. is stephen bechtel junior alive? sally denton: yes. brian lamb: does he have anything to do with the company? sally denton: he is quite elderly as well. i think he is an advisor to the hoover institute, and i am sure he is well retired. brian lamb: there is no reason for people to hear of us. we are not selling to the public. sally denton: i think that was a quote he gave to newsweek in response for a request for an interview, and so there is no reason to give an interview, we are not public. i mean, that was so symbolic on how they view themselves as above and beyond the american taxpayer.
6:40 am
brian lamb: the next person to run the company, riley bechtel. where is he? sally denton: he stepped down to his son. brian lamb: quote, we will never be a conglomerate. sally denton: again, under riley bechtel it became more of a conglomerate than ever with consortiums throughout the world and building on every continent. it is just exhausting just to read the list, which i did in this international construction magazine yesterday, the current projects are just staggering. brian lamb: they must do something right. sally denton: well, they must know how to build. brian lamb: brendan bechtel-- sally denton: he is the, you know, maybe he signifies a new generation of sensibility.
6:41 am
brian lamb: who is he? sally denton: he is the only son of riley and has taken over the company. he has an education from middlebury college, which is unusual for that family which has been pretty conservative. a liberal arts education, and he is young, 30's, and it is a new world. brian lamb: you alluded to this earlier, and here is some video of jonathan pollard, who i think when you wrote this originally, he was still in prison. did you have to change it--change your book? sally denton: i knew there was a release coming, or the chances of him being paroled were good, so i had written the paragraph for that purpose. brian lamb: here is some video of him being released. >> after 30 years in prison, and
6:42 am
-- convicted spy jonathan pollard will be a free man, sort of. the nasty one-year-old will be -- the now 61-year-old will be placed on five years probation during which he will not be allowed to leave the country. pollard, a former civilian navy intelligence analyst spy for israel during the 1980's and was arrested in 1985 in charge in 1987 with passing secret u.s. documents to the israeli government. pollard's imprisonment has been a vote of contention between the united states and israel for decades. his supporters saying the punishment he received was too harsh because israel is a u.s. ally. brian lamb: again, jonathan pollard, how does he play in this book and his relationship to weinberger and the attitude of the bechtel people about israel? sally denton: he had, in his own words, he had been encouraged,
6:43 am
or was inspired to spy for israel. he was working for the office of naval intelligence and came upon information about chemical weapons plants being built by american companies in syria and iraq and libya, and he went to his superior and told him, we have a treaty with israel. they need to know enemies are getting armed with chemical weapons. he was told by an officer, as he recounted, the boss laughed and said, we cannot tell the jews about this, they are sensitive about gas, which was a reference to the gas the nazis used so it was impetus on his part to begin spying for israel which he did.
6:44 am
he pled guilty and was expecting to get a two-year sentence, that was the plea bargain that he had made it with the u.s. government, but when he pled guilty, he was given a life sentence and the justification for that was a sentencing memoranda written by weinberger, secretary of defense. pollard had been in the defense department of the time about the extensive damage that had been done i what -- by what pollard gave to the israelis. i think the justification was also for the life sentence, was that he had violated his plea agreement by speaking with wolf blitzer who went on to write a book about it. brian lamb: weinberger also, i do not remember it the exact
6:45 am
legal details, perched himself and the iran conference but was pardoned by george h.w. bush. what is your take on weinberger's relationship to saudi arabia and also george shultz and saddam hussein? sally denton: you know, there was a time, i think weinberger and george shultz represented a direct shift from the american government more toward a way from israel and the arab state. that was certainly felt by the israelis at the time, and of course the israelis were always skeptical of bechtel dating back to the 1940's, 1950's, 1960's in the era of boycott, and there was always some, a little bit of skepticism that the israelis felt toward bechtel.
6:46 am
they were building throughout the middle east, but no projects in israel. brian lamb: do you think after your research, there was a direct connection? sally denton: between? brian lamb: the attitude of caspar weinberger in israel? sally denton: i don't think so. weinberger was rabid on the subject of israel and george shultz was really a statesman, and he was going forward with a policy, influencing reagan, but i think they were in locked step with each other. i think caspar weinberger was more of a neocon. brian lamb: this is an unfair question to ask, why did george shultz and weinberger not get along? they both worked for bechtel and republican administrations.
6:47 am
sally denton: they were very different men in temperament and it just seemed like it was a legendary battle between the two. brian lamb: george shultz is a very much alive and is 95-years-old, will turn 96 at the end of this year. our guest has been sally denton and her book is "the profiteers: bechtel and the men who built the world." thank you very much. sally denton: thank you. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] > to give us your comments about this program, visit us at
6:48 am
programs are also available as c-span podcasts. >> the bechtel corporation issued a statement in response to this book. it reads in part -- it goes on to say bechtel had no involvement in building the infrastructure for the vietnam war, constructing the republican palace and u.s. embassy in iraq case. pollard spy


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on