Halliburton Denies, Pentagon Plays Dumb
Whistleblowers Face Retribution from Both
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2005, 4:00pm PT  

It seems to us that if these were normal times --- when we weren't far far through the looking glass already --- a story such as this would have been front page news. For days on end. At least. Such as things are, however, here in Bizzarro World (previously known as America) this story ran on p. 12 of Tuesday's LA Times...

A top Army Corps of Engineers official charged Monday that Halliburton Co. was able to receive no-bid contracts for work in Iraq because of repeated assistance by the office of the secretary of Defense.
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Democrats also released a report that added up findings from previously undisclosed Defense Department audits. Together, they show more than $1 billion in possible overcharges and $422 million in billing that lacked the kind of documentation the auditors needed to determine whether the charges were proper.

The vast scale goes well beyond previously released figures. In earlier public reports, auditors had identified about $400 million in questioned costs.
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Rory Mayberry, a former [Kellog, Brown & Root, a division of Halliburton] food service manager, discussed some of the overcharges in a videotaped statement. He said the company served troops food that had been expired for as long as a year, provided Turkish and Filipino workers with leftovers in trash bags rather than culturally appropriate food, and overcharged for 10,000 meals per day in order to make up for a financial sanction imposed by the Pentagon.
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Another possible impropriety was a waiver, apparently given by top Defense Department officials, that allowed Halliburton to bill the department without providing cost and pricing data. [Army Corps of Engineers senior procurment officer, Bunnatine] Greenhouse said she normally would have been required to sign any such waiver, but this one "didn't even appear in my system."

The waiver allowed the company to pay a politically connected Kuwaiti oil company more than $1 per gallon to transport gasoline — work now being done, under worse security conditions, for 18 cents a gallon, according to executives of Lloyd-Owen International, which transports the fuel under contract with the Iraqi government.
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Greenhouse and Mayberry said they faced retribution for speaking out.

Greenhouse said she had been told by the acting chief counsel of the Corps of Engineers that appearing at the hearing "would not be in my best interest." Mayberry said that after he spoke to auditors in Iraq, he was transferred to a more dangerous assignment in Fallouja.