Jun 292005

A new report spearheaded by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) uncovered startling new details about Halliburton’s misdeeds, including the fact that the amount of taxpayer funds lost to Halliburton is "more than twice as high as those in previous official reports."

In total, more than $1 billion in funds paid to Halliburton were found by auditors to be "questioned," "unreasonable in amount," "inflated," or "excessive," while another $422 million were "unsupported" by the documentation provided by Halliburton. (Even if Halliburton were paid half of the disputed charges that would come from appropriated taxpayer funds, the remainder would be enough to buy more than 3,000 armored Humvees for U.S. troops at $140,000 each.) Despite being advised not to attend the hearings, Bunnatine Greenhouse, the senior civilian contracting official of the Army Corps of Engineers, testified on Monday that Halliburton’s actions were "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career."

A former food manager in Iraq for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) testified that the dining hall where he worked in early 2004 routinely served foods that were "outdated or expired as much as a year," or that had been removed from trucks whose convoys had been attacked. "[W]e were told to go into the trucks and remove the food items and use them after removing the bullets and any shrapnel from the bad food that was hit," the manager, Rory Mayberry, said. Yet during the same period, approximately three times each week, "KBR would cater events for KBR employees, like management parties and barbecues" where sanitary food was served. (Mayberry added, "Government auditors would have caught and fixed many of the problems. But KBR managers told us not to speak with auditors.")

The Bush administration has thus far refused to crack down on these abuses. Michael Bopp, staff director of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, actually told the Washington Post it was a "misguided assumption that our committee, or any committee, needs to hold a hearing to figure out what Halliburton is doing in Iraq." Indeed, on many occasions, Halliburton has been rewarded for regularly bilking Americans. Among many other examples, Defense Department officials have "overruled the objections of career officials in awarding contracts to Halliburton; waived the requirements of federal procurement regulations for Halliburton without justification; disregarded auditor warnings in negotiating additional contracts with Halliburton; and provided the company with millions of dollars in unjustified fees." And, as the report points out, auditors last year "suggested in a written memorandum that the Department’s failure to take action was encouraging Halliburton’s continued disregard of U.S taxpayer interests."

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