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Saturday, July 16, 2005

War Profiteering: Same As It Ever Was

How much clearer can the theft and war profiteering about Iraq get? Halliburton continues as if they have no need to even pretend to do right. The new evidence, released Monday afternoon, shows that Halliburton:

*overcharged or presented questionable bills for close on $1.5 billion, almost four times the previous amount disclosed.

* lost 12 giant pre-fabricated bases worth over $75 million destined for the troops. The bases could have housed as many as 6,600 soldiers.

* billed $152,000 to provide a movie library for 2,500 soldiers

* billed inconsistently across the board. Video cassette players, for example, were said to cost $300.00 in some instances, and $1000 in others. Likewise, the company charged $2.31 for towels on one occasion and $5 for the same units on another.

[snip]

Mayberry worked for Halliburton in Iraq from February to April 2004. He claims the company charged the Army for 20,000 meals a day when it was only serving 10,000 during his tenure. Subsequently he says he was punished for speaking to auditors by being banished to the more dangerous outpost of Fallujah.

In a video-taped deposition shown during the packed hearing, Mayberry explained how the company would sometimes supply food that was over a year past the expiration date or had spoiled due to inconsistent refrigeration. When the United States military occasionally refused the spoiled food, Halliburton truckers were instructed to take them to the next base in the hope that they would escape scrutiny.
Worst affected were the non-American workers. Mayberry says that Halliburton was supposed to feed 600 Turkish and Filipino meals. "Although KBR charged for this service, it didn't prepare the meals. Instead, these workers were given leftover food in boxes and garbage bags after the troops ate. Sometimes there were not leftovers to give them," said Mayberry.
Oh, and then there is the revenge actions against those who would try to hold Halliburton accountable.

"The witness who invited the most attention at the hearing, however, was Bunnatine Greenhouse, a former mathematics teacher from Louisiana, who rose to become the highest ranked civilian in the Army Corps of Engineers. As the person responsible for signing contracts, she spoke out repeatedly against superiors who she says forced her to sign no-bid contracts with Halliburton on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.

Greenhouse blew the whistle on the non-bid contracts in October 2004 when the Army tried to demote her. She filed a complaint for harassment on racial and gender grounds (she is African-American) but the harassment has not stopped. On June 24th, three days before the hearing, Pentagon lawyers met with her to try to persuade her not to testify.

"I have agreed to voluntarily appear at this hearing in my personal capacity because I have exhausted all internal avenues to correct contracting abuse I observed while serving this great nation as the United States Army Corps of Engineers senior procurement executive. In order to remain true to my oath of office, I must disclose to appropriate members of Congress serious and ongoing contract abuse I cannot address internally," said Greenhouse.

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root) represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.

"Members of Congress, who attended the hearing, called for a bipartisan commission to review the Halliburton contracts. "This testimony doesn't just call for Congressional oversight, it screams for it," said Senator Dorgan."
Well, it shouldn't be necessary to say this, but just in case anyone doesn't understand - this is bad. We're paying top dollar to a contractor for very substandard performance. Bush is wrong, we're not hated for our freedoms. We're hated for greed, and a lot of it is his. Not his? Well, the Carlyle Group that the Bush family money is invested in holds huge amounts of shares in companies that provide war services. Companies like Bechtel, Halliburton, and others. So when Halliburton steals from the US, they make "money for nothing", and the profits go to the stockholders - the Cheneys, the Bushes, and the Bakers and Carluccis, and about 300 other mostly Republican families.

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