Tuesday, August 30, 2005

War: "Give it to Halliburton...or Else"

This kind of bullshit should come as a surprise to no one. When the Vice President goes straight from the Halliburton boardroom to the White House with $20 million in his pocket, wheels will be greased... [via Mark Kleiman]:
Army Contract Official Critical of Halliburton Pact Is Demoted

A top Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq was demoted Saturday for what the Army called poor job performance.

The official, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq.

[...] Ms. Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an "obvious reprisal" for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq.

[...] Known as a stickler for the rules on competition, Ms. Greenhouse initially received stellar performance ratings, Mr. Kohn said. But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favoring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said.

[...]Ms. Greenhouse fought the demotion through official channels, and publicly described her clashes with Corps of Engineers leaders over a five-year, $7 billion oil-repair contract awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root. She had argued that if urgency required a no-bid contract, its duration should be brief.

Ms. Greenhouse had also fought the granting of a waiver to Kellogg Brown & Root in December 2003, approving the high prices it had paid for fuel imports for Iraq, and had objected to extending its five-year contract for logistical support in the Balkans for 11 months and $165 million without competitive bidding. In late June, ignoring warnings from her superiors, Ms. Greenhouse appeared before a Congressional panel, calling the Kellogg Brown & Root oil contract "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career." She also said the defense secretary's office had improperly interfered in the awarding of the contract.

Read that last part again. "Ignoring warnings from her superiors, Ms. Greenhouse appeared before a Congressional panel..." As outrageous as this whole thing is, this sentence almost bothers me the most. Since when can someone in the Army warn someone against congreesional testimony, when the Congress oversees the Army and can compell it?! I'd like to think that Congress would be enraged by this and emboldened to look into this, but we all know that sin't gonna happen. There are a million reasons why the whole Sheehan fiasco annoys me, sucking up all the oxygen (in the news AND the blogs) so stuff like this never sees the light of day is the biggest.

MORE: For a primer on the whole Cheney/Halliburton connection, go here.

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