Saturday, October 30, 2004

Halliburton Contracts Called Worst Abuse Ever

Whistleblower Says Halliburton Contract Abuse Blatant
Reuters | Oct 30 2004

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' top contracting official on Friday called the government's grant of multi-billion dollar contracts to oil services giant Halliburton the worst case of contracting abuse she has ever seen.
"It was misconduct, and part of that misconduct was blatant," said Bunny Greenhouse, in an interview on NBC's Nightly News program.
Greenhouse has already demanded an investigation into the contracts that last year were granted to Halliburton, the energy services firm run by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000. According to her attorney, the FBI has since asked her for an interview on the matter.
A spokesman for President Bush on Friday said the president expects a full investigation into allegations of wrongdoing in how Iraq-related contracts were awarded to Halliburton.
"If there is wrongdoing, the president expects it to be investigated fully and dealt with," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters traveling with Bush to New Hampshire.
That letter to Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee, sent by lawyers for Greenhouse, complained of repeated interference in the billions of dollars of contracts given to Halliburton unit Kellogg Brown and Root for work in Iraq and the Balkans.
"It was the worst abuse of the procurement and contracting system that I have seen," Greenhouse told NBC.
Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall earlier this week said KBR did not have any information on what Greenhouse may or may not have said to Pentagon officials in 2003 when the no-bid contract worth up to $7 billion was given to KBR to rebuild Iraq's oil industry.
"On the larger issues, the old allegations have once again been recycled, this time one week before the election," Hall told Reuters earlier this week in response to Greenhouse's letter. Hall could not be reached for comment on Greenhouse's latest remarks about the contracts.
Greenhouse, who is registered as an Independent, said she was not trying to influence the election.
Nonetheless, on Friday she also questioned the Pentagon's decision to award Halliburton that 5-year, no-bid contract worth up to $7 billion to repair the Iraqi oil industry.
"One year to me was reasonable. But not 5 years," she said.
That contract has since been replaced by a smaller competitive bid contract of which Halliburton's KBR was awarded a portion.
Greenhouse also questioned the Pentagon's waiver of its rules requiring Halliburton to justify pricing for services after a government auditor found the company may have overcharged by $61 million for fuel.
"It all favored Halliburton," she said.
Halliburton, which is already under investigation for overcharging for work in Iraq, has been a target of Democratic criticism ahead of the Nov. 2 election, with suggestions the Texas firm got special treatment because of Cheney.
But Greenhouse vowed she was not alleging any impropriety by President Bush or Vice President Cheney.
"None whatsoever," she said.