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Bechtel Under Fire

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Bechtel Corporation is being criticized by watchdog groups that say the defense contractor is being allowed to profit from the war in Iraq. Bechtel was awarded a $680 million dollar federal contract to direct Iraq´s reconstruction.

In a report released Thursday, Public Citizen, Global Exchange and CorpWatch lambasted Bechtel´s record of “environmental destruction, disregard for human rights and financial mismanagement” during its 100 year history of building power plants, water systems and roads worldwide.

The groups want more transparency in the government´s process of awarding contracts in Iraq. They believe the country´s reconstruction should be led by Iraqi people and Iraqi companies.

Meanwhile, about 30 protesters denouncing the company´s role in Iraq were arrested Thursday morning during demonstrations in front of Bechtel´s headquarters in downtown San Francisco. In response, Bechtel officials denied allegations in the report and said the company was awarded the Iraq contract after a competitive bidding process because of its historical record, technical merit and low prices.