A great way to get one of the most secretive politico-corporates into the public eye, but here's some more reliable info. :-)
Bechtel began in 1898 as a railroad company, soon after it expanded into general construction of bridges, roads and industrial and commercial buildings. By the 1930's it was a major corporation having played a crucial role in the construction of the Hoover Dam (dams have been a favourite of theirs ever since, as has the power industry in general, Bechtel is now a major player in both the fossil fuel and nuclear industries).
Today Bechtel (http://www.bechtel.com) is estimated to be the 20th largest corporation in America (smaller only than the its huge banking, oil conglomerates, and other industrial giants such as GEC and IBM, many of whom are Bechtel dependent clients), and the Bechtel family which still owns it, one of its richest clans (exact figures are hard to get though as the Bechtel family refuses to divulge its profits and wealth, as other corporations do, and refuses to be listed in any top 100 corporations list). When its many international subsidiaries, supported 'ally companies' and 'breakaway' businesses (still often run by Bechtel family members) are taken into consideration it is probably even bigger. However if this wasn't enough it is more powerful institution than even this ranking suggests. Where as most of today's corporations are owned by shareholders, Bechtel is still an entirely private company (possibly the world's largest private company) and is entire under the control of the Bechtel family and their top employees. This makes it a highly directional and powerful entity. It is thus sometimes refereed to as *The* Corporation.
In the International arena, Bechtel is certainly one of the world's largest construction companies, and when combined with its partner companies (such as bin Laden Construction, the Bechtel family are very tight with the bin Laden clan) far outstrips competitors. Some do try to compete of course, though when one company did so in Boston, for a particularly lucrative contract, they were allegedly threatened in an anonymous phone call, "If you want to work in this state again, don't play games with Bechtel!"
A ruthlessly capitalistic enterprise (also the centre of years of allegations of racial prejudice towards and exploitation of its work force) Bechtel is in the forefront of the drive for deregulation and privatisation. Currently Bechtel is a leading player in the World Bank's project for the privatisation of water. To the point that, in 1999, small farmers in Cochambamba, Bolivia, had to buy permits (and pay Bechtel) to gather rainwater on their own property! Some have suggested the 'evil corporation' that privatised Martian air in the film Total Recall was based on Bechtel.
One of Bechtel's most famous projects in Britain was probably the Channel Tunnel, but they also built many of the largest North Sea oil platforms. In fact Bechtel is the company of choice with the oil industry, many of the worlds largest oil rigs and pipelines were (and are) built by them (including the Iraq - Syria pipeline recently in the news). Bechtel is also called to put out oil fires, as they did the Kuwaiti fires after the first Gulf War. Perhaps there only service to the environment, as environmental groups claim Bechtel's industrial projects and nuclear power stations are some of the most environmentally damaging to be found anywhere.
While Bechtel now
builds many types of large scale structure, from vast power stations
and hospitals to major international airports, and even whole cities
(hence their new contract to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure), one of
their main specialisation's (along with their incestuous relationship
with the oil industry) are highly secret military projects. Not only
did they construct most of the military's current infrastructure, they
were (and are) also heavily involved in building and maintaining its
nuclear programs. Bechtel not surprisingly thus became one of the most
influential US corporations within the so-called Military Industrial
Complex. In fact, given its power, many regard it as the backbone of
the MIL-IND Complex. Bechtel's senior staff have historically also had
close links with the RAND Corporation, the primary military think tank
responsible for Cold War planning.
Bechtel is also highly security conscious. Even before September 11 cast a spotlight on national security, Bechtel's Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas was taking aim at terrorism. Managed by Bechtel Nevada for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, the site supports national security and U.S. intelligence and defence efforts, designs emergency response programs, monitors consequences of terrorist acts, and develops technologies to fight terrorism. At the Weapons of Mass Destruction Training Program, for example, police, fire-fighters, and other "first responders" from across the United States learn how to react quickly to terrorist attacks in populated areas. Technologies developed by site researchers include equipment for detecting and predicting the path of airborne hazardous material, as well as new ways to protect buildings from biological and chemical weapons. The site also operates Remote Sensing and Special Technologies laboratories. Immediately following September 11, officials from Bechtel Nevada and the National Nuclear Security Administration proposed creating a National Centre for Combating Terrorism. Based at the Nevada Test Site, the centre is expected to build on the programs already in place there.
Due to its involvement in these areas it should not be a surprise to discover the number of military and intelligence personal who have been senior Bechtel directors. The most famous being CIA directors John McCone (in charge of the CIA at the time of the JFK assassination and invasion of Chile. And also Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (1958-1961), and a director of ITT), and William Casey (Reagan's CIA chief, and earlier the OSS officer in charge of operation Paper Clip and the rescue of Nazi scientists). Most recently former Chief of Staff Colin Powell is the most prominent military figure to be associated with Bechtel's. The majority of the Defence Policy Board (formerly led by Richard Perle) which was the force behind the Pentagon's push for the invasion of Iraq have also been Bechtelites. It is thus not surprising that in San Francisco, a city that has become a centre for U.S. anti-war protests, the international construction giant has found its headquarters there a main destination for protesters -- because it is competing for lucrative contracts to rebuild Iraq and role in fermenting the war.
Politically it is
said Bechtel gave close to $1.3 million in campaign contributions, mostly
to Republicans, between 1999 and 2002. In addition, former U.S. Secretary
of State George Schultz now sits on Bechtel's board of directors.
Recently Bush slipped the $680 million Iraq contract to the Bechtel Group. The deal puts the company in position to receive a big part of the $100 billion estimated total cost of Iraqi reconstruction. According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, Bechtel gave Republican candidates, including Bush, about $765,000 in PAC, soft money and individual campaign contributions between 1999 and 2002.
The Bush Junta is stuffed with Bechtelites, Donald Rumsfeld once served as a liaison between Bechtel and the Iraqi government to finesse the building of an oil pipeline. And former Secretary of State George Shultz, a member of the board of directors of Bechtel, is also chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a strongly pro-war organisation with influence in the White House. Colin Powell is also a former Bechtel director.
Bin Laden's estranged
family, a sprawling, extraordinarily wealthy Saudi Arabian dynasty,
is a substantial investor in a private equity firm founded by the Bechtel
Group of San Francisco. In a closed competitive bidding process, the
United States Agency for International Development chose Bechtel to
rebuild the major elements of Iraq's infrastructure, including its roads,
railroads, airports, hospitals, and schools, and its water and electrical
systems. In the first phase of the contract, the U.S. government will
pay Bechtel nearly thirty-five million dollars, but experts say that
the cost is likely to reach six hundred and eighty million during the
next year and a half.
Two men meeting
in Kuwait recently to plan Iraqi reconstruction -- Jay Garner and Terry
Valenzano -- work for the very same public/private alliance that lobbied
Saddam two decades ago. Today, Defense Secretary Rumsfield heads up
the Pentagon, which is paying Garner's salary, while Shultz is a board
member of the Bechtel Company who is paying Valenzano's bills.
And for the conspiracy
buffs, the Bechtel Family, still resident in San Francisco, are said
to be the most influential people behind the cities' infamous Bohemian
Grove gatherings (some claim they control it). These secret 'hedonistic'
(and often pseudo-occult) gatherings are in reality secret networking
parties for the 'elite' where political and business deals are initiated.
Mostly Republican territory, allegedly every Republican President in
the 20th century was nominated here, some Democrat supporters such as
the Rockerfellars have been frequent guests. The Bechtel family is said
to have gained most of its influence at the Grove, and its camp there,
the Mandalay Lodge is the most prestigious, with not only the past and
present Bechtelites mob gathering there last year, but also special
guests Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger (an architect of the 'clash of
civilisations' anti Islamic doctrine). Incidentally many in the Bechtel
network are also prominent Freemasons, not unusual in a construction
Of course the unanswered question is are they really cannibalistic, shape-shifting reptilian aliens from the fifth dimension as David Ike claims? The Beck-Tul clan are their leading family he sometimes implies. Well, given the above the question becomes rather irrelevant and is probably an insult to extraterrestrial reptiles!