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William Averell Harriman was born in New York City, the son of railroad baron Edward Henry Harriman and Mary Williamson Averell, and brother of E. Roland Harriman. Harriman was a close friend of Hall Roosevelt (brother of Eleanor Roosevelt).
Using money from his father he established W.A. Harriman & Co banking business in 1922. In 1927 his brother Roland joined the business and the name was changed to Harriman Brothers & Company. In 1931, it merged with Brown Bros. & Co. to create the highly successful Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.. Notable employees included George Herbert Walker and his son-in-law Prescott Bush.
The study of the past is beset by uncertainty. Experts on ancient inscriptions can easily get into arguments over whether or not two prominent people with the same name were actually a single individual. The student of modern history doesn't normally run into such problems because our lives today are so well documented. But suppose that most present-day records were to be lost in the course of time, leaving only a few semi-mythic narratives. In that case, future historians might well conclude that the only way to make sense of the twentieth century was by assuming that there were actually two Allen Dulleses.
One Allen Dulles, they would tell us, was the head of a powerful group of covert agents who served the great American Republic at mid-century. The other, who lived and worked slightly earlier, had been dedicated to promoting the interests of the Nazi Reich, which was the sworn enemy of the Americans. Despite the coincidence of names, there could obviously have been no connection between them.
W.A. Harriman & Co., formed in 1919 by Averell Harriman (son of railroad baron E.H. Harriman) and George Herbert Walker, had led the way in directing American money to German companies and had opened a Berlin branch as early as 1922, when Germany was still in chaos. At that time, Averell Harriman traveled to Europe and made contact with the powerful Thyssen family of steel magnates. It was to be a long-lasting and fateful partnership.
By 1926, W.A. Harriman was doing so well that Walker gave his son-in-law, Prescott Bush, the gift of making him a vice president. In 1931, W.A. Harriman merged with a British firm to create Brown Brothers, Harriman, and Prescott Bush became a senior partner. During the 1930's, Brown Brothers, Harriman would increasingly direct its clients' investments to German companies. The Rockefeller family was prominent among these clients, and Standard Oil developed particularly close connections with the chemical giant I.G. Farben.
It was into this heady atmosphere of high-level investments and financial manipulation that Allen Dulles entered when he joined the firm of Sullivan and Cromwell in 1926. He would become the lawyer for the Thyssens' Rotterdam bank and would also represent other German firms, including I.G. Farben.
However, there was a serpent in this businessmen's Eden, and its name was Adolph Hitler. August Thyssen's son and successor, Fritz Thyssen, was an enthusiastic supporter of Hitler and had been funding the Nazi Party since 1923. Other German industrialists would do the same. It is hard to say to what extent the American investors shared Thyssen's enthusiasm, though it seems likely that most of them were swayed less by ideology than by the prospect that Hitler would be good for business. Either way, the outcome was that many wealthy and powerful Americans wound up supporting a regime that would ultimately become their own nation's enemy, and investing in the very firms that would provide the core of that regime's military machine.
Early in 1933, both Dulles brother attended a meeting in Germany where German industrialists agreed to back Hitler's bid for power in exchange for his pledge to break the German unions. A few months later, John Foster Dulles negotiated a deal with Hitler's economics minister whereby all German trade with the United States would be coordinated through a syndicate headed by Averell Harriman's cousin.
It goes without saying that Harriman, Walker, Bush, and Dulles were morally tainted by their connections with German firms like Thyssen and I.G. Farben, since they both funded and profited from Hitler's crimes against humanity. However, their entire enterprise was corrupt in a more subtle sense as well, in that its very basis was financial fraud on an unprecedented scale. That would have been true even if Hitler had never come to power.
Following Dresser's death, his descendants decided to sell it, and in 1928 the Wall Street investment-banking firm of W. A. Harriman and Company, Inc., converted the firm into a public company by issuing 300,000 shares of stock.
In 1998 Halliburton merged with Dresser Industries, which included Kellogg. Prescott Bush was a director of Dresser Industries, which is now part of Halliburton. Former United States president George H. W. Bush worked for Dresser Industries in several positions from 1948–1951, before he founded Zapata Corporation.
KBR, Inc. (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root) NYSE: KBR is an American engineering, construction and private military contracting company, formerly a subsidiary of Halliburton, headquartered in Houston. The company also has large offices in Arlington, Birmingham and Dallas. After Halliburton acquired Dresser Industries in 1998, Dresser's engineering subsidiary, The M. W. Kellogg Co., was merged with Halliburton's construction subsidiary, Brown & Root, to form Kellogg Brown & Root. KBR and its predecessors have won many contracts with the U.S. military, including during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, World War II and the Vietnam War.
Brown & Root was founded in Texas in 1919 by two brothers, George R. Brown and Herman Brown, with money provided by their brother-in-law, Daniel Root. The company began its operations by building roads in Texas.
One of its first large-scale projects, according to the book Cadillac Desert, was building a dam on the Texas Colorado River near Austin during the Depression years. For assistance in federal payments, the company turned to the local Congressman, Lyndon B. Johnson. Brown & Root was the principal source of campaign funds for Johnson's initial run for Congress in 1937, in return for persuading the Bureau of Reclamation to change its rules against paying for a dam on land the federal government did not own, a decision that had to go all the way to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, according to Robert A. Caro's book The Path to Power. After other very profitable construction projects for the federal government, Brown & Root gave massive sums of cash for Johnson's first run for the U.S. Senate in 1941. Brown and Root reportedly violated IRS rules over campaign contributions, largely in charging off its donations as deductible company expenses, according to Caro. A subsequent IRS investigation threatened to bring criminal charges of illegal campaign donations against Brown & Root, as well as Johnson and others. Roosevelt himself told the IRS to back off and allowed Brown and Root to settle for pennies on the dollar.
KBR, or Kellogg Brown & Root, was a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation until 2007, when bad publicity and indictments against KBR forced Halliburton to sell its shares in KBR.1
KBR and Vietnam:
KBR, having financed Lyndon Johnson from the 1940s and into the Vice Presidential position, was rewarded after Kennedy’s assassination with lucrative contracts in the escalated Vietnam War. “Johnson, who became president in 1963 after Kennedy’s assassination and who was elected with broad support in 1964, used the Gulf of Tonkin incident,” in order to “justify the sending of ground troops into Vietnam. The result of that move was the need for billions of dollars worth of bases, airstrips, ports, and bridges. Enter Brown & Root.”2
With that, “In 1965, a year after Johnson stepped up America’s participation in Vietnam, Brown & Root joined three other construction and project management behemoths, Raymond International, Morris-Knudsen, and J.A. Jones to form one of the largest civilian-based military construction conglomerates in history.” That team of corporations was known as RMK-BRJ, which, “literally changed the face of Vietnam, clearing out wide swaths of jungle for airplane landing strips, dredging channels for ships, and building American bases from Da Nang to Saigon.”3 KBR, as a member of this joint conglomerate, was also contracted to build new prison cells in Vietnam, replacing the “horribly inhumane prison cells built by the French government 75 years earlier to hold prisoners.”4