Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Raw Story | Halliburton, other lobbyists stall Pentagon ban on human trafficking

Filed by RAW STORY

Three years after a 2002 Presidential Directive demanding an end to trafficking in humans for forced labor and prostitution by U.S. contractors, the Pentagon is still yet to actually bar the practice, The Chicago Tribune reports. Congress approved a similar ban one year later, which was reauthorized by the Senate just last week.

The President and Congress have demanded that government agencies include anti-trafficking provisions (covering forced labor and prostitution) in all overseas company contracts. It also extended the ban to subcontractors.

According to the Tribune, the concerns of five lobbying groups - including representatives of Halliburton subsidiary KBR and DynCorp - are stalling Pentagon action. These companies are specifically targeting provisions requiring companies to monitor their overseas contractors for violations. Both KBR and DynCorp have been linked to human trafficking cases in the past.

The original Bush order came on the heels of revelations that DynCorp employees had purchased women and girls as sex slaves during the 1990s U.S. military presence in Bosnia. The company responded by firing eight employees over the incidents, as well as involvement in illegal arms sales.

An excerpt from the Tribune piece details Halliburton's role:

In a two-part series published in October, the Tribune detailed how Middle Eastern firms working under American subcontracts in Iraq, and a chain of human brokers beneath them, engaged in the kind of abuses condemned elsewhere by the U.S. government as human trafficking. KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary, relies on more than 200 subcontractors to carry out a multibillion-dollar U.S. Army contract for privatization of military support operations in the war zone.


The Tribune retraced the journey of 12 Nepali men recruited from poor villages in one of the most remote and impoverished corners of the world and documented a trail of deceit, fraud and negligence stretching into Iraq. The men were kidnapped from an unprotected caravan and executed en route to jobs at an American military base in 2004.

At the time, Halliburton said it was not responsible for the recruitment or hiring practices of its subcontractors, and the U.S. Army, which oversees the privatization contract, said questions about alleged misconduct "by subcontractor firms should be addressed to those firms, as these are not Army issues."

Once implemented, the new policy could dramatically change responsibilities for KBR and the Army.

Friday, December 16, 2005

ABC News: Halliburton Contractor Arrested for Alleged Bribery Attempt

Contractor Was Returning From Cruise in Mexico

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2005 ? A contractor who works for Halliburton in Iraq was arrested Thursday in Tampa for allegedly attempting to bribe Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at Tampa Seaport in Florida, an ICE official tells ABC News.

The man, who works as a driver of jet fuel trucks in Iraq, was not identified.

Returning from a Mexican cruise, the contractor and his fianc�e, also a government contractor, were stopped by customs officials for questioning regarding small amounts of painkillers that officials said they were bringing into the country.

After learning the two were contractors for U.S. Central Command, ICE agents contacted CENTCOM headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. CENTCOM told ICE to confiscate the pair's military contractor IDs.

The male contractor then allegedly asked ICE agents what it would take to make this incident go away. Officials say he then offered a $1,000 bribe to the ICE agent. The agent asked the pair to meet for lunch.

According to an ICE official, the ICE agent got approval to wear a microphone. During the meeting, officials say the Halliburton contractor offered the ICE agent a bribe and handed him $1,000. The contractor was arrested and is expected to be charged with bribery. His fianc�e was released and has sought counsel.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005 - Braintree Forum - Lynch seeks crackdown on bribery, fraud in Iraq contracting

Holbrook's congressman, Stephen F. Lynch, member of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, introduced the "Iraq Contracting Fraud Review Act of 2005" (H.R. 4351), legislation that would ensure greater accountability and transparency in Iraq contracting.

Specifically, Lynch's bill would require the Secretary of Defense to review all Defense Department Iraq reconstruction and troop support contracts involving any contractor, subcontractor, or U.S. official that has been indicted or convicted for related contract illegalities. The bill would also require the secretary to report subsequent findings back to Congress within 180 days.

Lynch's legislation stems from the subcommittee's continuing investigation of documented waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq reconstruction and troop support contracting and arose in response to the recent federal indictments of a former Halliburton official and subcontractor.

In March of 2005, the Department of Justice announced that Jeffrey Mazon, a former Halliburton procurement manager, and Ali Hijazi, the managing partner of LaNouvelle General Trading and Contracting Company, a Kuwaiti firm and Halliburton subcontractor, had been indicted in relation to a kickback scheme through which the company overcharged the U.S. government by approximately $3.5 million.

During resulting subcommittee hearings, Lynch repeatedly asked Defense Department representatives whether, in light of the indictments, all contracts involving Mazon, Hijazi, or LaNouvelle were being reviewed. Unfortunately, aside from very vague assurances that a contractual review is "ongoing," these officials failed to offer any specifics on the nature, scope, and any results of the work.

According to Lynch, "Our goal with this legislation is to assist in tracking the flow of up to $20 billion that has already been misallocated or unaccounted for in Iraq and ensure greater governmental transparency and accountability as we continue towards the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq. Regrettably, the extent of financial waste, fraud, and abuse amounts to a lost opportunity to provide meaningful assistance to the Iraqi people and has frustrated our overall policy in Iraq, an effort for which we've sacrificed a great deal financially and, more importantly, the lives of more than 2,000 of our men and women in uniform."

Lynch added, "This is a matter of common sense. Clearly, these indictments have raised significant questions regarding the integrity of other contracts involving these parties, yet a comprehensive contractual review does not appear to be a priority for the Defense Department. It's about time we adopt a real system of accountability."

Specifically, Lynch's bill would promote greater governmental transparency and accountability in Iraq reconstruction contracting by requiring the Secretary of Defense to:

Review all defense contracts (including a task or delivery order contract) entered into on or after March 1, 2003 by the Defense Department that:

Relate to reconstruction or troop support in Iraq; and

Involve any contractor, subcontractor, or federal officer/employee that has been indicted or convicted for fraud or any other violation of federal law with respect to another Defense Department contract relating to reconstruction or troop support in Iraq.

Notify the House Government Reform and Armed Services Committees and Senate Governmental Affairs and Armed Services Committees when the review required by the Act has begun.

Complete the review and submit a subsequent report to the appropriate Committees within 180 days of enactment.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Raw Story | Congressman says Pentagon auditors found Halliburton paid $130 million for 'unsupported' charges

Filed by RAW STORY

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee has disclosed that Halliburton received $130 million for charges that the Pentagon's own auditors had found to be "unsupported," RAW STORY has learned.

Waxman disclosed the information in a letter to Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the Republican chairman of the Government Reform Committee, in which he called on Rep. Davis to convene hearings.

Waxman's letter follows, slightly abbreviated.

The Honorable Tom Davis
Committee on Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I am writing to request a hearing on the decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to pay Halliburton $130 million in cost reimbursements, profits, and bonuses for billings that Defense Department auditors determined to be unreasonable and unsupported. The Committee should also insist that the Corps of Engineers provide the award fee documentation for Halliburton's contract that we requested in April.

The payments in question were made under the no-bid Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO) contract, which Halliburton was awarded in March 2003. Under the contract, the Defense Department issued ten task orders to Halliburton for oil-related work in Iraq, including the importation of fuel and the repair of oil facilities. Halliburton charged over $2.5 billion for this work, which is now complete. Because RIO is a cost-plus contract, Halliburton is reimbursed for its costs and then receives additional profits and bonuses. The profits are based on a negotiated estimate of the contract costs, known as a "definitization." Under the RIO contract, Halliburton receives 2% of the definitized costs as an automatic base fee and up to 5% of the definitized costs as an additional award fee bonus. Based on considerations such as cost control and performance, a government award fee board or official determines what percentage bonus, if any, Halliburton should receive under each task order.

Recently, without any announcement, the Corps of Engineers posted on its website the definitized value of six RIO task orders and the amount of Halliburton's fees and bonuses under each of these task orders. The posted information reveals that the Corps of Engineers appears to have ignored auditor findings in three ways: by reimbursing Halliburton for costs determined to be unreasonable or unsupported, by permitting Halliburton to collect profits on these challenged costs, and by giving Halliburton unwarranted bonuses.

Pentagon auditors identified $169 million in excessive and unsubstantiated costs under the six task orders. The auditors found Halliburton's fuel importation and other costs to be unreasonably high and determined that Halliburton's cost proposals were "not acceptable for negotiation of a fair and reasonable price." As a result, the auditors recommended that Halliburton not be reimbursed for these costs and not receive profits on them.

It now appears, however, that the Corps rejected the auditor findings and paid Halliburton for $124 million of the challenged costs. Although between 60% and 70% of costs challenged by Pentagon auditors are typically sustained, the Corps sustained only 27% of the challenged costs in this case. The Administration has offered no explanation for this decision to pay three-quarters of Halliburton's challenged costs.

Moreover, because RIO is a cost-plus contract, the decision to pay Halliburton for these challenged costs increased the company's profits by millions of dollars. Under the RIO contract, Halliburton received a larger base fee because the pool of definitized costs is larger. In this case, Halliburton was paid $2.5 million in base fee profits for billings that Pentagon auditors challenged.

Compounding these egregious payments, it appears that the Corps also gave Halliburton million-dollar bonuses for overbilling the taxpayers. Two factors determine the size of Halliburton's award-fee bonus: the percentage of the award fee provided to Halliburton and the value of the definitized task orders. In this case, both appear to be inflated, with Halliburton receiving bonus awards of up to 3.4% on the challenged costs being reimbursed. In fact, given Halliburton's track record of overcharging the government, the entire $38 million in bonuses awarded to Halliburton under the six task orders is questionable.

The decisions by the Corps of Engineers seem inexplicable. For many months, Pentagon auditors have criticized Halliburton's cost estimation systems as "inadequate" and its fuel charges as "unreasonable." Our Committee should require the Corps to explain why it decided to reimburse Halliburton for challenged costs, to permit Halliburton to collect profits on challenged costs, and to give Halliburton large bonuses as a reward. With reimbursement and fee decisions still pending on four other RIO task orders, it is important that we receive prompt answers.


On March 8, 2003, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary KBR a no-bid monopoly contract to restore and operate Iraq's oil infrastructure. The contract was awarded in secret, and other qualified companies, like Bechtel, which did most of the oilfield work after the first Gulf War, were precluded from bidding.[1] Halliburton received the contract because it had previously been awarded a task order to prepare a contingency plan for Iraq's oil sector. The Government Accountability Office later investigated the award of the contingency contract and concluded that it was not "in accordance with legal requirements" because "preparation of the contingency support plan for this mission was beyond the scope of the contract."[2] GAO added that the work "should have been awarded using competitive procedures."[3]

Halliburton charged approximately $2.5 billion under the RIO contract, which had a potential value of $7 billion.[4] The Corps of Engineers issued ten different task orders under the RIO contract. Work has now concluded on all ten task orders.

Halliburton's work was split generally between oil infrastructure projects and fuel importation tasks: Task Orders 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 related to various oil infrastructure projects, while Task Orders 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 involved the importation of fuel from Kuwait, Turkey, and Jordan. The majority of Halliburton's charges under this contract were for fuel importation and distribution. Halliburton charged approximately $1.5 billion for fuel work and $1 billion for infrastructure work.[5] There were two sources of funding for this work: approximately $875 million came from U.S. taxpayer funds and $1.64 billion came from Iraqi oil proceeds and other funds in the U.S.-controlled Development Fund for Iraq.[6]

RIO is a "cost-plus" contract, meaning that Halliburton is reimbursed for its costs and then receives additional profits and bonuses. The profits are based on a negotiated estimate of the contract costs. The process by which the government and Halliburton agree on a cost estimate for each task order is called "definitization." Under the RIO contract, Halliburton receives 2% of the definitized costs as an automatic base fee and up to an additional 5% of the definitized costs as an optional award fee bonus. A government award fee board or award fee determination official considers factors such as cost control and performance to determine what bonus percentage between 0% and 5% Halliburton should receive under each task order.[7]

Audit Findings

Rep. John Dingell and I began to raise questions about Halliburton's RIO contract immediately after the contract was awarded in March 2003.[8] In a series of letters, we expressed concern about the exorbitant prices of Halliburton's fuel imports from Kuwait. We reported that Halliburton appeared to be charging twice as much as it should have for fuel imports,[9] and we cited independent experts who characterized Halliburton's charges as "highway robbery" and "outrageously high."[10]

Our concerns about Halliburton's inflated costs were validated by Pentagon auditors. In December 2003, the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) announced at a press conference that it had completed a preliminary draft audit of Halliburton's fuel importation work. DCAA auditors found that Halliburton had overcharged the U.S. government by as much as $61 million for gasoline imported from Kuwait into Iraq.[11] This audit was preliminary, however, and covered only the period until September 30, 2003.

In 2004 and 2005, DCAA completed final audits of each of the ten task orders. In this series of audits, DCAA identified $219 million in "questioned" costs under the entire RIO contract.[12] DCAA determined that all of these costs were unreasonably high. DCAA also identified $60 million in "unsupported" charges under the RIO contract.[13]

DCAA auditors found unreasonable costs for Kuwaiti fuel under all of Halliburton's fuel importation task orders. The auditors criticized Halliburton for failing to negotiate better pricing for the fuel and transportation costs, concluding that Halliburton failed to provide "adequate documentation to demonstrate the reasonableness of the Kuwait fuel prices over the life of the purchase orders."[14]

The auditors also repeatedly criticized Halliburton for making unnecessary retroactive payments to its Turkish fuel subcontractors. DCAA noted that Halliburton had negotiated "fixed-unit-rate" and "firm-fixed-price" subcontracts with various Turkish subcontractors to import fuel into Iraq. During the term of these subcontracts, the market price of the fuel increased. DCAA reported that the Turkish companies asked Halliburton "to increase the unit price of the fuel to compensate for losses due to market increases."[15] According to DCAA, Halliburton "agreed to pay the higher prices retroactively."[16] DCAA concluded: "We do not believe it was appropriate to retroactively adjust the fuel unit prices of KBR's fixed-unit-rate and firm-fixed-price subcontracts when there are no provisions in the subcontracts to do so."[17]

All the DCAA audits reported that Halliburton's proposals were "not acceptable for negotiation of a fair and reasonable price."[18] DCAA found that Halliburton's cost and pricing submissions were "not adequate" because "proposed" costs "exceed recorded costs," because Halliburton's proposals "did not contain data to support the reasonableness of the negotiated purchase orders," and because they were not prepared "in accordance with applicable Cost Accounting Standards and appropriate provisions of FAR," the Federal Acquisition Regulation.[19]

Moreover, DCAA criticized Halliburton for producing inadequate cost estimates for definitization. On December 31, 2003, DCAA issued a "Flash Report," alerting various Defense Department agencies about "significant deficiencies" in Halliburton's cost estimating system.[20] According to the auditors, these deficiencies "could adversely affect the organization's ability to propose subcontract costs in a manner consistent with applicable government contract laws and regulations."[21] On August 4, 2004, DCAA found Halliburton's "estimating system to be inadequate for providing verifiable, supportable, and documented cost estimates that are acceptable for negotiating a fair and reasonable price."[22]

I released a report in July 2004 with additional information about Halliburton's inflated gasoline charges. This report compared the price charged by Halliburton to import gasoline from Kuwait to Iraq with the costs incurred by the Pentagon's fuel importation office, the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), to perform the same task. Because DESC assumed Halliburton's fuel importation responsibilities on April 1, 2004, a direct "apples-to-apples" price comparison could be made. The report found that Halliburton charged more to purchase fuel than DESC, three times as much to transport the fuel into Iraq, and 40 times as much to cover its fees and markups.[23]

On April 15, 2005, the Committee requested award fee determinations and related documents for a number of Iraq contracts.[24] After meeting with Committee staff, the Defense Department provided the requested information for 20 contracts.[25] However, the Department still has not provided the requested compensation documentation for the RIO contract.

Halliburton's Reimbursements, Profits, and Bonuses

On November 3, 2005, without any announcement, the Corps of Engineers posted on its website the definitized value of six RIO task orders and the amount of Halliburton's base and award fees under each of these task orders.[26] Information was posted for Task Orders 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Together, these task orders are worth over $1.5 billion, or about 60% of the total value of the RIO contract.[27] Information for Task Orders 3, 8, 9, and 10 was not posted.

For these six task orders, DCAA had identified $169 million in questioned and unsupported costs.[28] The auditors recommended that Halliburton not be reimbursed for or receive profits on these costs.

The posted information reveals that the Corps of Engineers appears to have ignored the findings of the Defense Department's own auditors. According to the information from the Corps, the agency reimbursed Halliburton for unreasonably high costs challenged by auditors, allowed Halliburton to collect profits on these challenged costs, and even gave Halliburton a substantial bonus.

Instead of disallowing the costs challenged by DCAA, the Corps largely ignored the Pentagon auditors and reimbursed Halliburton for $124 million in questioned or unsupported costs.[29] This represents 73% of the $169 million in costs challenged by the auditors under these task orders. These figures are shown in Table A.

Historically, between 60% and 70% of DCAA's challenged costs have been sustained. But in this case, the Corps sustained only 27% of the challenged costs. On Task Order 7, one of the large fuel importation task orders, the Corps upheld just 8% of the costs challenged by auditors.

In addition to reimbursing Halliburton for challenged costs, the Corps also allowed Halliburton to profit from the challenged costs. Because Halliburton's pool of definitized costs includes $124 million in challenged costs, Halliburton's 2% base fee is larger than it should be. The company will automatically receive $2.5 million in profits for costs Pentagon auditors found to be unreasonably high or unsubstantiated.

Finally, the Corps gave Halliburton a large bonus for the costs challenged by the Department's auditors. For each task order, Halliburton's award fee bonus depends on two determinations: the percentage bonus awarded to Halliburton and the definitized value of each task order. Under the RIO contract, the Halliburton can receive a bonus fee of up to 5% of the definitized value of a task order. The bonus percentage selected by the award fee board or determination official is multiplied by the definitized value to produce the final bonus award.

Ironically, Halliburton received some of its highest bonuses for projects with the most inflated costs. On the two fuel importation task orders, Task Orders 5 and 7, the company was given an award fee of 3% despite repeated auditor findings of unreasonable charges for Kuwaiti fuel and improper overpayments to Turkish subcontractors. In fact, although Halliburton's fuel costs were deemed unreasonable by DCAA and have been the subject of widespread criticism, over $36 million of the $38 million bonus awarded to Halliburton are for these fuel task orders.

In total, Halliburton received reimbursements worth $124 million, base-fee profits worth $2.5 million, and bonuses worth $3.4 million for the specific charges challenged by DCAA. Given that Halliburton's entitlement to any bonuses could be called into question by its pattern of unreasonable billings, the company's entire bonus of $38 million for the six task orders is also suspect.


The Administration has consistently asserted that cost-plus contracts protect the taxpayer because the government can use the prospect of raising or lowering award fees to encourage "effective control of costs" by the contractor.[30] Clearly this has not occurred with the RIO contract. Rather than relying on the findings of its own auditors, the Pentagon reimbursed Halliburton for $124 million in costs that the auditors determined to be excessive or unsupported. And rather than holding Halliburton accountable for squandering taxpayer and Iraqi funds, the Administration rewarded Halliburton with large bonuses and special treatment.

The Committee on Government Reform has held no full Committee hearings on Iraq this Congress. In light of the mounting reconstruction problems in Iraq and the questions raised in this letter, the Committee should initiate a series of hearings into contracting in Iraq, starting with a hearing to investigate the federal payments to Halliburton. In order to adequately prepare for these hearings, we should also insist that the Pentagon produce the detailed RIO compensation determination documents previously requested by the Committee. We cannot allow the Administration to waste additional taxpayer dollars paying Halliburton's inflated costs and undeserved profits on the remaining four RIO task orders.


Henry A. Waxman

Friday, November 25, 2005

Federal Times | Two charged with Iraq contracting abuses

The government has arrested a contractor and a former federal official on charges of corrupt contracting practices in Iraq.

An American businessman, Philip Bloom, is accused of conspiring with the official to rig the bids on more than $13 million in contracts that he won. He also allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts to the official and others to win contracts.

The official, Robert Stein, was comptroller and funding officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority in South Central Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

Bloom and Stein are charged with conspiring to commit money laundering and wire fraud in connection with a bribery and fraud scheme, the Justice Department said in a Nov. 17 announcement.

Bloom owned numerous construction and service companies doing business in Iraq. The case is before the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

The Justice Department is weighing another possible criminal case related to Iraq contracting, according to a letter released Nov. 14 by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

Justice is weighing claims by Bunnatine Greenhouse, principal assistant for contracting at the Army Corps of Engineers, of abuses in connection with a contract to Halliburton division Kellogg, Brown and Root, according to the letter to Dorgan from the Defense Department inspector general?s office.

A company spokeswoman, Melissa Norcross, said KBR ?continues to cooperate fully with the Justice Department?s investigation of certain issues pertaining to our work in Iraq? and said the company?s contracting practices are within bounds.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ex-Halliburton Employee Gets Jail Sentence

Saturday, November 19, 2005

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - A federal judge sentenced a former employee of a Halliburton subsidiary to 15 months in prison Friday for accepting more than $100,000 in kickbacks from an Iraqi company that was awarded a construction contract in Iraq.

Glenn Allen Powell, 40, of Cedar Park, Texas, was also ordered to pay restitution of $91,000. He pleaded guilty in August to fraud and violating an anti-kickback law.

Prosecutors said he was a subcontracts administrator for Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc., which provides engineering and other project management services for the military.

In exchange for $110,300 in kickbacks, Powell recommended the Iraqi company for a $609,000 subcontract to renovate four buildings, prosecutors said. They declined to name the company.

An internal investigation by KBR in January uncovered the kickbacks.

Halliburton has said it removed the Iraqi company from its list of subcontractors and gave the military a credit for the amount of the kickback.

The case was prosecuted in Illinois because the Army Field Support Command at the Rock Island Arsenal oversees the military contract with KBR.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)

Halliburton Allegations Are Sent to Justice Dept.

No-Bid Contracts In Iraq Are at Issue

By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 19, 2005; A15

An investigative arm of the Pentagon has sent an Army Corps of Engineers whistle-blower's allegations of wrongdoing against Halliburton Co. to the Justice Department.

Bunnatine H. Greenhouse was removed from her position as the Corps of Engineers' top procurement official in August after raising concerns over the volume of Iraq-related work given to the Houston-based oil-services giant without competition. She is appealing.

Kellogg, Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, had a competitively awarded contract to provide logistics support for the military in the Middle East and was awarded a no-bid contract to repair Iraq oil fields.

The Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the criminal investigative arm of the Pentagon inspector general, investigated her charges and "has shared its findings" with the Justice Department, John R. Crane, assistant inspector general, said in a letter to Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.). "The DOJ is in the process of considering whether to pursue the matter," the letter said.

"This is the first evidence that someone is taking seriously these allegations," said Dorgan, chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, which heard Greenhouse in June.

Two former Halliburton workers have been charged with taking kickbacks while working for the company in the Middle East. And Pentagon auditors have questioned more than $1billion in costs for the company's work there.

"The company continues to cooperate fully with the Justice Department's investigation of certain issues pertaining to our work in Iraq," Halliburton said in a written statement. "As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

� 2005 The Washington Post Company

Friday, November 18, 2005

Halliburton Case Is Referred to Justice Dept., Senator Says - New York Times

Pentagon investigators have referred allegations of abuse in how the Halliburton Company was awarded a contract for work in Iraq to the Justice Department for possible criminal investigation, a Democratic senator who has been holding unofficial hearings on contract abuses in Iraq said yesterday in Washington.

The allegations mainly involve the Army's secret, noncompetitive awarding in 2003 of a multibillion dollar contract for oil field repairs in Iraq to Halliburton, a Texas-based company. The objections were raised publicly last year by Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, then the chief contracts monitor at the Army Corps of Engineers, the government agency that handled the contract and several others in Iraq.

In a letter received and released yesterday by Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, the assistant Pentagon inspector general, John R. Crane, said that the criminal investigation service of the Defense Department had examined Ms. Greenhouse's allegations "and has shared its findings with the Department of Justice." Senator Dorgan is the chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, a Congressional group that has repeatedly used unofficial hearings to question the administration's record of awarding contracts in Iraq.

The Justice Department, the letter said, "is in the process of considering whether to pursue the matter."

Ms. Greenhouse, a 20-year veteran of military procurement work, says her objections before the contract was signed were ignored. After internal clashes with officials at the agency and threats of demotion, she went public with her charges in the fall of 2004.

This year, she was demoted in August from the elite Senior Executive Service, on charges of poor performance, and given a lower-ranking job as a project manager. She has filed appeals, but for now "she has no projects to manage and she just sits in the corner," her attorney, Michael Kohn, said yesterday in a telephone interview from Washington. The inspector general's office at the Defense Department had already begun its own investigation of her charges regarding the contracting. Exactly which issues are of most interest to investigators in the Justice Department is unclear. Mr. Crane wrote that he could not provide more details "as this is an ongoing criminal investigation."

Melissa Norcross, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, said in an e-mail message, "The company continues to cooperate fully with the Justice Department's investigation of certain issues pertaining to our work in Iraq."

In letters to senior Army officials and in public testimony, Ms. Greenhouse said that in early 2003 the Corps had violated procedures when it secretly awarded a five-year, potentially $7 billion contract for oil field repairs to a Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root.

Among other things, the same company had been secretly hired months earlier to draw up a plan for the job, she said. She also said that even if the urgency of war required dispensing with competitive bidding, the duration of the contract should have been shorter. She objected again in December 2003, when officials granted a waiver to Kellogg Brown & Root, approving the high prices it had paid to import fuel from Kuwait. Other Pentagon agencies said the company had paid tens of millions of dollars too much, without offering any justification for the payments.

In her e-mail message, Ms. Norcross said, "KBR will continue to work with our customers and the appropriate government agencies to demonstrate, once and for all, that KBR delivered vital services for the U.S. troops and the Iraqi people within the appropriate bounds of government contracting and at a fair and reasonable cost, given the circumstances."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 News | Gulf Coast slaves

Halliburton and its subcontractors hired hundreds of undocumented Latino workers to clean up after Katrina -- only to mistreat them and throw them out without pay.
By Roberto Lovato

Nov. 15, 2005 | Arnulfo Martinez recalls seeing lots of hombres del ejercito standing at attention. Though he was living on the Belle Chasse Naval Base near New Orleans when President Bush spoke there on Oct. 11, he didn't understand anything the ruddy man in the rolled-up sleeves was saying to the troops.

Martinez, 16, speaks no English; his mother tongue is Zapotec. He had left the cornfields of Oaxaca, Mexico, four weeks earlier for the promise that he would make $8 an hour, plus room and board, while working for a subcontractor of KBR, a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton that was awarded a major contract by the Bush administration for disaster relief work. The job was helping to clean up a Gulf Coast naval base in the region devastated by Hurricane Katrina. "I was cleaning up the base, picking up branches and doing other work," Martinez said, speaking to me in broken Spanish.

Even if the Oaxacan teenager had understood Bush when he urged Americans that day to "help somebody find shelter or help somebody find food," he couldn't have known that he'd soon need similar help himself. But three weeks after arriving at the naval base from Texas, Martinez's boss, Karen Tovar, a job broker from North Carolina who hired workers for a KBR subcontractor called United Disaster Relief, booted him from the base and left him homeless, hungry and without money.

"They gave us two meals a day and sometimes only one," Martinez said.

He says that Tovar "kicked us off the base," forcing him and other cleanup workers -- many of them Mexican and undocumented -- to sleep on the streets of New Orleans. According to Martinez, they were not paid for three weeks of work. An immigrant rights group recently filed complaints with the Department of Labor on behalf of Martinez and 73 other workers allegedly owed more than $56,000 by Tovar. Tovar claims that she let the workers go because she was not paid by her own bosses at United Disaster Relief. In turn, UDR manager Zachary Johnson, who declined to be interviewed for this story, told the Washington Post on Nov. 4 that his company had not been paid by KBR for two months.

Wherever the buck may stop along the chain of subcontractors, Martinez is stuck at the short end of it -- and his situation is typical among many workers hired by subcontractors of KBR (formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root) to clean and rebuild Belle Chasse and other Gulf Coast military bases. Immigrants rights groups and activists like Bill Chandler, president of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, estimate that hundreds of undocumented workers are on the Gulf Coast military bases, a claim that the military and Halliburton/KBR deny -- even after the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency turned up undocumented workers in a raid of the Belle Chasse facility last month. Visits to the naval bases and dozens of interviews by Salon confirm that undocumented workers are in the facilities. Still, tracing the line from unpaid undocumented workers to their multibillion-dollar employers is a daunting task. A shadowy labyrinth of contractors, subcontractors and job brokers, overseen by no single agency, have created a no man's land where nobody seems to be accountable for the hiring -- and abuse -- of these workers.

Right after Katrina barreled through the Gulf Coast, the Bush administration relaxed labor standards, creating conditions for rampant abuse, according to union leaders and civil rights advocates. Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires employers to pay "prevailing wages" for labor used to fulfill government contracts. The administration also waived the requirement for contractors rebuilding the Gulf Coast to provide valid I-9 employment eligibility forms completed by their workers. These moves allowed Halliburton/KBR and its subcontractors to hire undocumented workers and pay them meager wages (regardless of what wages the workers may have otherwise been promised). The two policies have recently been reversed in the face of sharp political pressure: Bush reinstated the Davis-Bacon Act on Nov. 3, while the Department of Homeland Security reinstated the I-9 requirements in late October, noting that it would once again "exercise prosecutorial discretion" of employers in violation "on a case-by-case basis." But critics say Bush's policies have already allowed extensive profiteering beneath layers of legal and political cover.

Halliburton/KBR, which enjoys an array of federal contracts in the United States, Iraq and Guant?namo Bay, Cuba, has long drawn criticism for its proximity to Vice President Dick Cheney, formerly Halliburton's CEO. Halliburton/KBR spokesperson Melissa Norcross declined to respond directly to allegations about undocumented workers in the Gulf. "In performing work for the U.S. government, KBR uses its government-approved procurement system to source and retain qualified subcontractors," she said in an e-mail. "KBR's subcontractors are required to comply with all applicable labor laws and provisions when performing this work."

Victoria Cintra is the Gulf Coast outreach organizer for Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, which recently partnered with relief agency Oxfam America to help immigrant workers displaced by Katrina. She says KBR is exposing undocumented workers like Martinez to unethical and illegal treatment, even though they are supposed to be paid with federal Katrina-recovery dollars to clean and rebuild high-security facilities like the one President Bush recently visited. Cintra is one of several people fighting to recover the wages owed the workers: She drives her beat-up, chocolate-colored car across the swamps, damaged roads and broken bridges of the Gulf Coast to track down contractors and subcontractors. With yellow legal pad in hand, she and other advocates document abuses taking place at Belle Chasse, the Naval Construction Battalion Center at the Seabee naval base in Gulfport, Miss., and other military installations.

I was with Cintra when she received phone calls from several Latino workers who complained they were denied, under threat of deportation, the right to leave the base at Belle Chasse. Cintra also took me along on visits to squalid trailer parks -- like the one at Arlington Heights in Gulfport -- where up to 19 unpaid, unfed and undocumented KBR site workers inhabited a single trailer for $70 per person, per week. Workers there and on the bases complained of suffering from diarrhea, sprained ankles, cuts and bruises, and other injuries sustained on the KBR sites -- where they received no medical assistance, despite being close to medical facilities on the same bases they were cleaning and helping rebuild.

Cintra and other critics say there's been no accountability from the corporate leaders who signed on the dotted line when they were awarded multimillion-dollar Department of Defense contracts. "The workers may be hired by the subcontractors," Cintra says, "but KBR is ultimately responsible."

"Latino workers are being invited to New Orleans and the South without the proper conditions to protect them," adds Cintra, who recently provided tents to Martinez and several other unpaid Mexican workers who fled Belle Chasse for Gulfport after being dismissed by Tovar. Cintra, a Cuban exile and born-again Christian, has since seen a small tent city of homeless immigrants spring up in the yard of her church, Pass Road Baptist, in Gulfport. "This is evil on top of evil on top of evil," she says. "The Bush administration and Halliburton have opened up a Pandora's box that's not going to close now."

Halliburton/KBR is the general contractor with overarching responsibility for the federal cleanup contracts covering Katrina-damaged naval bases. Even so, there is an utter lack of transparency with the process -- and that invites malfeasance, says James Hale, a vice president of the Laborers' International Union of North America. "To my knowledge, not one member of Congress has been able to get their hands on a copy of a contract that was handed out to Halliburton or others," Hale says. "There is no central registry of Katrina contracts available. No data on the jobs or scope of the work." Hale says that his union's legislative staff has pressed members of Congress for more information; apparently the legislators were told that they could not get copies of the contracts because of "national security" concerns.

"If the contracts handed out to these primary contractors are opaque, then the contracts being let to the subcontractors are just plain invisible," Hale says. "There is simply no ability to ascertain or monitor the contractor-subcontractor relationships. This is an open invitation for exploitation, fraud and abuse."

Congress has heard a number of complaints recently about Halliburton/KBR's hiring practices, including the alleged exploitation of Filipino, Sri Lankan, Nepalese and other immigrant workers paid low wages on military installations in Iraq. And KBR subcontractor BE&K was a focus of Senate hearings in October, for the firing of 75 local Belle Chasse workers who said that they were replaced by "unskilled, out-of-state, out-of-country" workers earning $8 to $14 for work that typically paid $22 an hour.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has been an outspoken critic of the use of undocumented workers at Belle Chasse and on other Katrina cleanup jobs, said in a recent statement, "It is a downright shame that any contractor would use this tragedy as an opportunity to line its pockets by breaking the law and hiring a low-skilled, low-wage and undocumented work force."

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., is also against the practice, citing its "serious social ramifications." As he told Salon, it devastates "local workers who have been hit twice, because they lost their homes."

Seventeen-year-old Simitrio Martinez (no relation to Arnulfo) is another one of the dozens of workers originally hired by Tovar, the North Carolina job broker working under KBR. "They were going to pay seven dollars an hour, and the food was going to be free, and rent, but they gave us nothing," says the thin Zapotec teenager. Simitrio spent nearly a month at the Seabee base. "They weren't feeding us. We ate cookies for five days. Cookies, nothing else," he says.

Simitrio, his co-workers, and the dozens of KBR subcontractors that employ them operate under public-private agreements like federal Task Order 0017, which defines the scope of work to be fulfilled under the contracts. Under the multimillion-dollar Department of Defense contract, KBR is supposed to provide services for "Hurricane Katrina stabilization and recovery at Naval Air Station Pascagoula, Naval Air Station Gulfport, Stennis Space Center and other Navy installations in the Southeast Region," according to a Defense Department press release.

But the details of the agreements remain murky. "Not only is it very difficult to see the actual signed DoD contracts, but it is nearly impossible to see the actual task orders, which assign the goods or services the government is buying," says Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight in Washington. The military can ask for goods and services on an as-needed basis, he says, which means that the contracts, which add up to tens of millions of dollars, can remain open ended. According to DoD press statements, the contracts call for considerable manual labor, including "re-roofing of most buildings, barracks, debris removal from the entire base, water mitigation, mold mitigation, interior and exterior repairs to most buildings, waste treatment plants, and all incidental related work."

Simitrio and any other workers on the high-security military bases must get permission before entering the guarded gates, where they get patted down by M-16-wielding military police. Responsibility for getting private-sector construction and cleanup workers on the bases rests with the general contractor -- in KBR's case, security chief Kevin Flynn. One of Flynn's responsibilities is to negotiate passes and entry for KBR subcontractors -- and their hires -- to do the work stipulated by the task order.

Yet, following several complaints by Landrieu, and just a few days after President Bush visited the Belle Chasse base, agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency raided the facility and detained 10 workers who ICE spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback said had "questionable" documentation.

Representatives of Halliburton/KBR do not acknowledge the existence of undocumented workers providing labor for their operations on the Gulf Coast bases. Flynn suggested speaking to the U.S. military, who he said "has real strict control" and would know whether there were undocumented workers. "We have workers from all ethnic groups on the base," Flynn said. "To the best of my knowledge, there are no undocumented workers."

Steve Romano, head of housing on the Belle Chasse base, said, "We have no relationship with [KBR] at all. I have no idea what that's about." A similar response was given by an official at the base's health facility when asked about undocumented workers who complained about health issues and injuries sustained on the KBR sites. The only military person to acknowledge seeing Latino workers was a watch commander who greeted me at an entry to the base. The commander estimated there were 100 such workers there. Meanwhile, representatives with the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance say they received calls from undocumented workers at Belle Chasse who estimated there were more than 500, or "about eight busloads" of immigrant workers on-site.

Texas-based DRS Cosmotech is another subcontractor that provided cleanup crews to Halliburton/KBR in the Gulf. Roy Lee Donaldson, CEO of the company, refused to respond to accusations of non-payment and exploitation leveled at his company by several workers, including 55-year-old Felipe Reyes of Linares, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. (Donaldson hung up the phone when I identified myself as a reporter.)

"Mr. Donaldson promised us we'd live in a hotel or a house. We lived in tents and only had hot water that smelled like petroleum," Reyes said. The city of Belle Chasse has been identified in recent years as one of the most toxically polluted areas in the entire region, with several major energy companies operating there. A wide range of advocacy groups have warned about serious health risks facing Katrina cleanup workers.

"They didn't want to pay us for two weeks of work. So we stopped working. We started a huelga [strike] on the base" added Reyes, who along with other workers, says he was later paid $1,100 -- only part of what he says he was owed.

Another KBR subcontractor, Alabama-based BE&K, says it is not responsible for keeping track of the workers. BE&K spokesperson Susan Wasley said, "I can't say that we require our subcontractors' employees to produce documentation for us, because that's what our subcontractor as employer has to do. That's his responsibility."

At the bottom of the KBR subcontracting pyramid are job brokers like Tovar and Gregorio Gonzalez, who helped hire laborers for Florida-based On Site Services, another subcontractor that reportedly failed to pay wages owed to workers in the Gulf Coast. The job brokers find workers by placing ads in Spanish-language newspapers like La Subasta and El Dia in Houston; the ads typically promise room, board and pay in the range of $1,200 a week. Job brokers also run television ads on Spanish-language stations like Univision. And they attend job fairs in places like Fresno, Calif.

Not all subcontractors refuse to discuss their links to KBR. Luis Sevilla is pretty open about it if you can get to the crowded hangar on the restricted premises of the Seabee naval base where he and his crew sleep and work. Sevilla put together crews for KBR subcontractors to remove asbestos and do other construction work; his workers told me they are paid and treated well. Asked about the people who own the R.V. with a "KBR" logo outside the hangar where his workers crowd into small tents, Sevilla says, "They contract with many, many companies." Interviews with members of Sevilla's crew revealed a number of undocumented workers.

Despite the evidence of undocumented workers cleaning up after Katrina, Halliburton/KBR maintains that it runs its operations within the bounds of the law. "KBR operates under a rigorous Code of Business Conduct that outlines legal and ethical behaviors that all employees and subcontractors are expected to follow in every aspect of their work," spokesperson Norcross said by e-mail. (She did not respond to several requests for a phone interview.) "We do not tolerate any exceptions to this Code at any level of our company."

Standing in spitting distance of the KBR-branded R.V., which is parked as if it were guarding the hangar, Jose Ruiz of Nicaragua knows that his role in the Katrina cleanup is anonymous at best. "I don't have any papers, kind of like in that song by Sting -- 'I'm an illegal alien,'" says Ruiz, who lived in the United States for many years before arriving to work for Sevilla at the Seabee base. "That's the way it is."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Reuters AlertNet - CORRECTED - U.S. reconstruction chief challenged by Iraqis

Source: Reuters

In BAGHDAD story headlined "U.S. reconstruction chief challenged by Iraqis" please read in paragraph eight ... when temperatures rose above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (around 49 Celsius) ... instead of ... when temperatures rose above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (around 40 Celsius) ... (correcting temperature conversion).

A corrected version follows.

By Claudia Parsons

BAGHDAD, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Iraqi perceptions that not enough is being done to rebuild the country after the U.S.-led invasion are simply a case of bad public relations, Washington's new reconstruction chief said on Sunday.

Challenged by Iraqi reporters at his first news conference since he arrived in Baghdad to head the U.S. embassy's Iraq Reconstruction Management Office, Dan Speckhart listed a string of U.S.-funded projects covering health, education, transport, water and electricity generation.

"I recognise some people are frustrated perhaps that it's not moving as fast as they would like but the basis is there," Speckhart responded when asked why there was little evidence of progress in Baghdad, where electricity is erratic at best.

Speckhart said more than half of a $2.8 billion reconstruction programme in the capital had gone towards infrastructure projects, such as electricity, water and sewage.

"This is a big challenge. There's been more than 30 years of decay and neglect that has run down the infrastructure tremendously," Speckhart said, adding that demand for electricity was also rising as Iraqis buy more fridges, air conditioners and other appliances previously in short supply.

Speckhart said roughly half the electricity generation in Iraq now was the result of U.S.-funded projects; that 350 water and sewage treatment projects had been undertaken; and that 700 schools had been renovated.

In July a report by the U.S. Congress' investigative arm said that as of May 2005, power generation in Iraq was at a lower level than before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Many Iraqis spend whole evenings without power, and last summer, when temperatures rose above 120 degrees Fahrenheit (around 49 Celsius), families were making do with about eight hours of power a day, two hours on and then four off.

Iraq's oil output, which U.S. officials initially said would help pay for rebuilding projects, had also dropped in the past two years, the Government Accountability Office report said.

During the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, there was extensive damage to buildings, including the telecommunications system, bridges and other infrastructure, while electricity and oil installations suffered from a decade of international sanctions.


Speckhart described the $30 billion rebuilding programme funded by the U.S. and other international donors as "the largest reconstruction programme for a single country in the history of the world". But he said even that was only a start, and further international help would be needed.

Another Iraqi reporter asked him about a recommendation by a U.N. watchdog agency that Washington should repay $208 million in apparent overcharges paid to a Halliburton Co. subsidiary.

Speckhart said the problem was much of the U.S.-funded work done was not visible enough. "I wish I had time to take you all on field trips," he told the reporters.

"I understand it's a big country and it's not happening as fast as Iraqis would like, but it is happening," he said.

Pressed by a third reporter about an unfinished hospital project in a Shi'ite district in Baghdad, Speckhart said penalties for companies would depend on their contract.

"Sometimes in Iraq there can be delays that are not the fault of the companies," he said.

A report by the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction at the end of October said more than a quarter of all reconstruction funds had been spent on security costs to protect contractors, hundreds of whom have died in Iraq. That eats away at what ends up being spent on Iraq and Iraqis.

"We're trying to build and the terrorists are trying to destroy," Speckhart said, adding that U.S. authorities often did not publicise successes to avoid attracting attacks.

"Part of the challenge we have faced is we haven't advertised what we're doing in all these places," he said.

Speckhart said reporters who questioned why so many contracts had gone to U.S. firms, such as Halliburton, a company once led by Vice President Dick Cheney, were misinformed.

"It's not the case any more that there are just large international firms doing this," Speckhart said. "Iraqi firms are making the money."

Friday, November 11, 2005 -- Halliburton repays $8.6 million to pension holders

HOUSTON ? Oil field services company Halliburton Co. repaid $8.6 million to pension holders in 2003 and 2004 for failing to properly fund the plans and for a bookkeeping error, according to a letter from the Labor Department.
The Labor Department closed its investigation into the pension violations after the payments were made, according to a copy of the Oct. 6 letter obtained by Reuters Friday.

"Because you have taken the corrective actions ... the Department will take no further action," Roger Hilburn, regional director for the Labor Department said in the letter, which cited several potential legal violations by the company.

The Houston-based company said once the errors were discovered, it moved to cover the payments.

"Halliburton cooperated extensively with the Department of Labor to identify and successfully resolve, on a voluntary basis, issues involving certain retirement plans," the company said.

According to the letter, Halliburton failed to make proper payments on three occasions to the fund.

The company paid about $5.8 million in stock and cash in 2003 and 2004 to the fund from the sale of Prudential Insurance Co. stock that it wrongly kept, and also paid $2.6 million to reimburse its pension trusts for expenses.

An error in the company's payroll system in 2003 wrongly led to about 100 employees being charged a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty on their pensions by the Internal Revenue Service. The company reimbursed those employees the $191,000 they had been charged.

Feds say Halliburton mishandled pension funds - NYT - General Industrial Services - Industrial, Diversified - Industrial Products & Services - General

By MarketWatch
Last Update: 12:43 AM ET Nov. 11, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- An investigation of Halliburton Co.'s pension plan has found the company violated federal pension law, including charging some costs of Halliburton's executive pension and bonus plan to the workers' pension fund, according to a report published Friday.

According to the Times story, the Labor Department concluded that Halliburton's actions violated federal pension law prohibitions against self-dealing and using pension money for the benefit of the company, as well as the requirement to handle pension money with "care, skill, prudence and diligence."

The documents show Halliburton replenished funds that were improperly withdrawn from the pension fund, made the affected individuals whole and paid an undisclosed tax penalty, the Times reported.

Two of the violations began while Vice President Dick Cheney was the company's chief executive. The third, which the Times reported involved the largest amount of money, took place after Cheney resigned in 2000.

The report said Halliburton responded to an inquiry about the findings with a statement that said: "Halliburton cooperated extensively with the Department of Labor to identify and successfully resolve these issues on a voluntary basis. As the letter indicates, these issues have all been fully resolved."

Representatives for Halliburton could not be reached early Friday for comment on the report.

Shares of Halliburton fell $2.40 Thursday, or 4.11%, to $56.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

UN audit says Halliburton overcharged Iraq - Yahoo! News

A UN auditing board has recommended the United States pay as much as 208 million dollars to Iraq for overbilling or shoddy work performed by a subsidiary of the US oil services firm Halliburton, The New York Times reports.

The work, carried out by Kellogg, Brown and Root, was paid for with Iraqi oil revenues but was delivered at inflated prices or done poorly, the board said, quoted by the US newspaper.

While audits had called into question 208 million dollars worth of contracting work, it was too early to say how much of the funds should be paid back because analysis of financial statements and documents was still under way, the newspaper wrote.

Once the analysis was finished, the UN monitoring board "recommends that amounts disbursed to contractors that cannot be supported as fair be reimbursed expeditiously," the board said in a statement, quoted by the daily.

The board, which relied mainly on Pentagon audits for its findings, could only make recommendations and the ultimate decision on repayment would be up to the United States government. The Pentagon has yet to release its audits of the contracting work.

A spokeswoman for Halliburton told the newspaper questions raised by earlier US military audits had focused on documentation and not the quality of the work performed by Kellogg, Brown and Root.

"Therefore, it would be completely wrong to say or imply that any of these costs that were incurred at the client's direction for its benefit are 'overcharges,'" spokeswoman Cathy Mann was quoted as saying in an e-mail to the paper.

Halliburton, once managed by now Vice President Dick Cheney, has been accused previously of overbilling and opposition Democrats have alleged it enjoyed preferential treatment for government contracts. Cheney has rejected the allegations.

A former Iraqi academic, Louay Bahry, told the newspaper that the board's findings would confirm suspicions among ordinary Iraqis that Washington's underlying motive in going to war against Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003 was to control the country's oil wealth.

"Something like this will be caught in the Iraqi press and be discussed by the Iraqi general public and will leave a very bad taste in the mouth of the Iraqis," Bahry, who works at the Middle East Institute in Washington, told the newspaper.

Charged with overseeing Iraq's oil revenues and money seized from Saddam Hussein's regime, the monitoring board includes representatives from the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Iraqi government.

The results of the audit should allow the Iraqi government "the right to go back to K.B.R. (Kellogg, Brown and Root) and say, 'Look, you've overbilled me on this, this is what you could repay me,'" a board member was quoted as saying by the paper.

Thursday, November 03, 2005 - Suit says Halliburton shirked on overtime

5 workers claim Army contract was broken
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Halliburton and KBR violated their contracts with the Army when they failed to pay workers in Iraq and Kuwait overtime, a lawsuit filed in a Houston federal court alleges.

The lawsuit, filed by five workers seeking class-action status, claims Halliburton and its subsidiaries shorted 20,000 to 40,000 truck drivers, cooks, mechanics and other workers millions of dollars.

"It appears to us from our investigation and talking to several hundred employees that they were required to work 80 to 100 hours a week simply because it's cheaper to have them work overtime then have (other employees) start a new week," said Ramon Rossi Lopez, a trial lawyer with Lopez, Hodes, Restaino, Milman & Skikos in Newport Beach, Calif.

Houston-based Halliburton declined to discuss the lawsuit.

"At this time, we are investigating the situation, but with litigation pending it would not be appropriate to comment further," said Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann. The Army also did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

According to the suit, Brown & Root Services signed a contract with the Army in December 2001 to provide non-combat support services.

Despite the fact that federal law does not require companies to pay their overseas workers overtime, the agreement between the Army and Halliburton required the payment of time and one-half for workers who put in more than 40 hours a week, the suit alleges.

But Halliburton and its subsidiaries required its workers to sign contracts stipulating that they would not receive overtime, according to the lawsuit, which also claims they routinely worked between 80 to 100 hours a week.

Halliburton's contract is under the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, better known as LOGCAP, which helps plan for the use of civilian contractors in wartime and emergencies.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 | Ex-official may testify on Abramoff


Wednesday, November 2, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The former top deputy to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Steven Griles, is expected today to become the first former high-ranking Bush administration official to testify in the Senate investigation of indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with Indian tribal gambling.

Griles aggressively pushed Norton and the Interior Department to help Abramoff's clients and block their rivals, according to documents and officials.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee is investigating whether Abramoff bilked Indian tribes out of millions of dollars.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

KRT Wire | 11/01/2005 | Civilian contractors in Iraq dying at faster rate as insurgency grows

Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON - As the nation focused last week on the 2,000th U.S. soldier who died in Iraq, Gloria Dagit of Jefferson, Iowa, got a box filled with the belongings of her son, Keven, who was killed when his convoy of trucks was ambushed in northern Iraq.

Keven Dagit's death Sept. 20 - along with two other truckers - didn't register on the tally of Iraq deaths broadcast daily. That's because they were civilians working for U.S. defense contractors.

As the violence of the protracted war continues and some 75,000 civilian employees struggle to rebuild the war-torn nation and support the military, contractor casualties mount. Their deaths have more than tripled in the past 13 months.

As of Monday, 428 civilian contractors had been killed in Iraq and another 3,963 were injured, according to Department of Labor insurance-claims statistics obtained by Knight Ridder.

Those statistics, which experts said were the most comprehensive listing available on the toll of the war, are far from complete: Two of the biggest contractors in Iraq said their casualties were higher than the figures the Labor Department had for them.

The dead and injured come from many walks of life, drawn by money and patriotism. Some are American citizens. Most are not. They are truckers, police officers and translators. They're counted only if they were paid by companies hired by the Pentagon. Their deaths and injuries were compensated by insurance policies required by federal law.

The Labor Department lists 156 dead for an L-3 Communications subsidiary in Virginia. The company, which provides translators who work with the military, puts the death toll at 167, of whom 15 were Americans. The Labor Department's accounting reports that Halliburton, the largest contractor in Iraq, has had 30 employees killed in Iraq and 2,471 injured. A Halliburton spokeswoman, Melissa Norcross, said Tuesday that the company had lost a total of 77 workers in Iraq, Afghanistan and its base in Kuwait. One worker is unaccounted for. Halliburton couldn't give a breakdown by country.

The government's listing shows the contractors' casualty rate is increasing. In the first 21 months of the war, 11 contractors were killed and 74 injured each month on average. This year, the monthly average death toll is nearly 20 and the average monthly number of injured is 243.

"You've got a greater number of contractors on the ground carrying out a greater number of roles putting them in danger," said Peter W. Singer, a contracting expert at the Brookings Institution, a Washington research center. "And issue No. 3, you've got a much more dangerous environment."

Keven Dagit, a truck driver for Halliburton, knew it. The day before he was killed he told his mother, "Now, it's really getting dangerous," she recalled.

He left two daughters, ages 9 and 11.

"I want more people to realize that these guys are out there defenseless," Gloria Dagit said. "It was an ambush. ... They are not allowed to carry weapons."

So far this year, 196 contractors in Iraq have been killed and 2,427 have been injured, according to Labor Department statistics.

In August, Mike Dawes of Stillwell, Okla., a longtime police officer who'd been hired to train Iraqi police, was killed by a suicide bomber in downtown Baqoubah, 36 miles northeast of Baghdad. He'd worked for DynCorp International and had survived as a private contractor in Kosovo, where he also taught police from Poland, India and Pakistan. He described that experience as "really an honor."

Dawes "was an excellent officer," said Stephen Farmer, the police chief at the Tahlequah Police Department in Oklahoma. "If he wasn't the first one there on the call, he was usually the one right behind."

The invisible nature of the contractors' deaths irks their friends and families.

"We get hurt right next to them in many cases," said Erick Fern, a Houston trucker for Halliburton who injured his back in Iraq and is fighting to get compensation. "It seems to be that we don't exist since we're getting paid."

Private companies aren't obligated to report deaths to the news media, as the military does. But they're required to carry federal insurance for all their workers in Iraq and to report claims to the Labor Department under the Defense Base Act. That doesn't include contractors who work for agencies outside of the Pentagon, however.

"Most of what you see on TV is strictly about the military," said Steve Powell of Azle, Texas, who worked for Halliburton in the Iraqi city of Mosul and watched friends get killed. "There's very little said about the contractors. ... I felt like I was over there doing something to help the military in a way."

Rick Kiernan, a spokesman for L-3 Communications, said his firm had had so many losses because its translators were "with the combatants; they're with the special forces; they're with the infantry units. That probably puts them out in the most dangerous places."

Kiernan noted that L-3's employees aren't killed in combat, they're being assassinated. Of the company's 152 dead Iraqi employees, 105 were murdered because they collaborated with Americans, he said.

"They've been targeted," Kiernan said. "A lot of these local nationals are really doing their part as well in a very courageous way."

The workers' families also make sacrifices.

Yvette English, a pregnant Colorado woman with a 19-month-old daughter, helps run an Internet message board to assist families with loved ones in Iraq. Her husband is a Halliburton truck driver.

"While he's gone, it's very lonely," she said. "You didn't bargain in a marriage to be alone and be a single mom. Then again, you support your husbands and what they're doing. For them, it's a sense of duty."

Todd Drobnick of Everett, Wash., was one of the first American employees of L-3 to be killed, dying with two military personnel in a suicide bomb attack two years ago this month.

For his father, John Drobnick, his son's loss is still painful. "I was just crying today," he said.

"There are days I get angry, but that's not the way you honor someone; you go and do something decent," he said. So he and his wife, Sharon, plan to mark the second anniversary of their son's death by fixing up houses that Hurricane Katrina damaged in Louisiana.

"That's the kind of thing he would have done," John Drobnick said, weeping. "That's the reason he worked in the (Persian) Gulf. He was there five times. He went back because he loved the people, because he thought they needed help and he could help."

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Soldier of fortune

By: Anish Trivedi
October 30, 2005
Just about 18 months ago, I was packing my bags. For Baghdad. The allied invasion was over. Iraq had been liberated from slavery under Saddam. And a new world order was sweeping the streets, and everything else, clean.

This was the new land of opportunity. While Halliburton may have been making hay, thanks to the largesse of the US Vice Presidential office, there was enough reconstruction activity to excite the rest of the business world.

Including me. I was going to buy two radio stations, one in Baghdad itself. The other in Kurd country. As a business, it made perfect sense. It was significantly cheaper than trying to buy one in Bombay.

And as a new market, it offered far more possibility than the taxi drivers in this town who appear to be the only audience that our radio stations aim for. So there I was, spreadsheet in hand, ready to bet that I could give Iraqi youth their first fling with international entertainment in years.

I didn’t. Largely because I couldn’t go. Not that there was a problem getting a visa. Back then, no one knew who needed to issue a visa. So as long as the US military command didn’t mind my coming, all was well.

The problem was in just getting there. Two flights a week from Amman. If that. Because air traffic control in Iraq didn’t know how safe the corridor coming in was. It seems there were still a few 100 surface-to-air-missiles in existence in the hands of rebels. So ‘planes flew high over Baghdad airport. Then dived down in a narrow flight path that brought them to the ground. Hopefully with their fuselage intact. And passengers alive.

At the time I sat in Dubai trying to make it across to Amman so I could then make it over to Iraq, the corridor closed. The occupying force had discovered that there were more missiles on the ground than they’d previously thought possible.

Which meant tempting fate while catching a flight. While I am willing to go to most lengths to further my business and the reach of radio around the world, I draw the line at having to put my head between my legs hoping my ass will still be attached to them when I reach the ground. I opted to stay in Dubai.

Cowards don’t die

Which probably means I lost my last opportunity in a long while to see Iraq. In the week I waited in Dubai, a few dozen soldiers, mostly American, lost their lives in rebel attacks. The hotel in which I would have stayed, and indeed on whose roof the radio station I was buying had its transmitters, had gaping holes in the walls.

Rockets fired into the building didn’t kill anyone that week. But they played havoc with room service. While I wouldn’t quite call myself a coward, I do draw the line at being blown up. Or shot. Or kidnapped. It’s hard to run a radio station if your tongue’s been ripped out. Along with the rest of your head.

Since then, the body count has risen considerably. In this last week, a sombre ceremony counts the 2,000th American soldier to be killed in Iraq since the war of liberation began.

And then there are Brits. And the soldiers of other nations. And the journalists. And the contractors. All of whom have fallen victim to an unseen army. One that doesn’t want them there.

It can’t just be the Saddam supporters. The former dictator is behind bars. In no position to be summoning troops from his jail cell. The rest of his regime is decimated. With the various public enemies the US has tried to catch or killed.

Or captured. Which doesn’t leave much more than the citizens of the country. Who for some strange reason don’t appear to be too happy with their new found freedom. So when they’re not mowing down their own people, they’re killing soldiers.

Two thousand and counting.

Not that it’s going to stop. In his wisdom, something only he believes he has, Mr Bush has reiterated his desire to keep his soldiers there. To keep fighting a losing battle. To keep talking of peace when the presence of those men and women just prolongs the war. You’d think the man would get it. But then, let’s face it. He’s not very bright.

I never did buy those radio stations. It’s bad enough being in a city where email and text messages and telephone calls heap criticism on your jocks. To be in one where a missile is the only missive you get when you offend someone doesn’t make much sense. Not to me.

So there you have Baghdad. A city without peace. Without hope. And without radio. But come to think of it, given what we hear here, that’s not a bad thing.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Stock Market News and Investment Information |

NEW YORK, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Halliburton Co. (HAL.N: Quote, Profile, Research) on Friday named a new chief financial officer for KBR, its engineering and construction subsidiary that it is considering spinning off in an initial public offering.

Cedric Burgher was with Halliburton from 2001 to 2004 before leaving to become CFO of Burger King Corp., the company said. He will be based in KBR's Houston office.

Halliburton said in September 2004 it would restructure KBR and possibly sell it or launch an IPO for the unit.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Prevailing Wages to Be Paid Again On Gulf Coast

Rule Was Waived for Post-Katrina Work

By Griff Witte
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 27, 2005; A01

The White House yesterday reversed course and reinstated a key wage protection for workers involved in Hurricane Katrina reconstruction, bowing to pressure from moderate House Republicans who argued that Gulf Coast residents were being left out of the recovery and that the region was becoming a magnet for illegal immigrants.

The Bush administration decided in the days after the hurricane to waive a provision of the Davis-Bacon Act that guarantees construction workers the prevailing local wage when they are paid with federal money. The administration said the waiver on hurricane-related work would save the government money and speed recovery efforts.

The decision immediately was criticized by Democrats and labor unions. It also exposed fault lines in the president's party. Conservatives strongly backed the waiver. But a group of moderate Republican members of Congress -- many from districts in industrial areas populated by blue-collar workers -- lobbied the White House and the congressional leadership for the prevailing-wage provision to be reinstated. In recent weeks, the lawmakers wrote to President Bush, met with Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, and persuaded House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert to arrange a meeting with Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff.

Yesterday morning, leaders of that group were summoned to the White House, where Card told them that the administration had changed its mind. The prevailing-wage rule is to go back into effect Nov. 8, two months after the suspension. It will not apply retroactively.

"When the crisis of the moment is over, we should return to the regular order. Part of that order is Davis-Bacon," said Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio). He said the law is needed to ensure that skilled, local workers find jobs and to keep the area from being inundated with illegal immigrants willing to work for low wages.

The decision was a rare victory for organized labor during George W. Bush's presidency. It was a defeat for traditional Bush allies, including the construction industry and conservatives in Congress. Yesterday, both groups said the president's reversal would inflate the cost of reconstruction.

"It's the kind of thing that shows they're turning their backs on the things that Ronald Reagan and those who built this party care deeply about," said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.).

"Certain special interests and their allies in Congress are more concerned about reinstating this wasteful and outdated act than they are with fairly and expeditiously reconstructing the devastated areas," M. Kirk Pickerel, chief executive of Associated Builders and Contractors, said in a written statement.

White House spokesman Trent Duffy said yesterday that the waiver was always considered temporary and that it had outlived its usefulness.

Gulf Coast workers and businesses have complained that they are being left out of the recovery. While the federal government spends more than $60 billion on recovery, they say that out-of-state companies receive most of the contracts and that many of those firms pay workers less than the prevailing wage -- which is often the union wage.

For example, 75 unionized electricians said they lost their $22-an-hour jobs rebuilding the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station near New Orleans because a Halliburton Co. subcontractor found workers to do the job for less.

The company, Alabama-based BE&K, said yesterday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators found two undocumented workers on the company's payroll. The company said the two had provided false paperwork. Last week, Navy officials said they found 13 illegal immigrants working at Belle Chasse for another contractor, Texas-based BMS Catastrophe Inc.

New Orleans resident Sam Smith, 55, was among those who lost jobs. He expressed satisfaction yesterday with the reinstatement of the prevailing-wage rule, but blamed the administration for his dismissal at a time when he was trying to put his life, and his city, back together. "This is the way it should have been from the beginning," he said.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) said the reinstatement would help federal money flow to people like Smith, who lost his 9th Ward house in the storm. "People who live in the area will have the opportunity to do the rebuilding," LoBiondo said.

Many of the 37 House Republicans who pushed for the reinstatement are from swing states or Democratic-leaning states where labor unions are relatively strong. The congressmen said ending the exemption could save money because it reduces the potential for fraud. The waiver exempted some contractors from reporting wage data to the government.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration has reversed several decisions made as it tried to get the recovery on track after a slow start.

For example, it rescinded a ruling that lifted the purchase limit on government credit cards from $15,000 to $250,000. Later, the acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, R. David Paulison, said the agency would put out for bid four big housing contracts that it had awarded without competition.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company - U.S. settles some Halliburton disputes

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

The Army Corps of Engineers has settled payment disputes for six out of 10 task orders under its Restore Iraqi Oil contract with Houston-based Halliburton.

Those task orders primarily dealt with fuel that the company's subsidiary, KBR, provided as part of a project to restart Iraqi oil field production after the 2003 U.S. invasion of the country.

The 10 task orders covered jobs costing about $1.4 billion. Auditors concluded the military had been overcharged by about $108.4 million for fuel brought into Iraq from Kuwait under the orders.

In a conference call this week, Halliburton officials said the six task orders had been settled in their favor.

"We have resolved the majority of that, over $1 billion of the $1.4 billion" in contracts, Chief Financial Officer Christopher Gaut said during the call. "So that's largely behind us, and we're just negotiating the few remaining task orders that were separate and had some other activities with them."

A Corps of Engineers spokesman confirmed the settlements but said he didn't know the terms.

Halliburton booked $24 million in third-quarter earnings related primarily to the partial settlement of the fuel dispute.

The company's billings have been under scrutiny by the Pentagon and members of Congress in the past. Democrats claim the company has been able to run up excessive charges largely because of "deficient Defense Department oversight and an unquestioning reliance on Halliburton's assurances."

The company says those claims have been exaggerated.

Halliburton's Iraq-related work in the third quarter accounted for $1.2 billion in revenue and $44 million in income.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Sen.'s office: Halliburton subcontractor hired illegal workers

NEW ORLEANS A Halliburton subcontractor is denying that immigration agents are detaining a large number of illegal immigrants it hired to do Hurricane Katrina recovery work.

Senator Mary Landrieu's office said today that there may be more than 100 workers involved. They were detained yesterday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. They had been setting up a tent city at a Navy base just outside New Orleans.

The Birmingham, Alabama-based subcontractor, B-E-and-K, was awarded the work by Halliburton, which won contracts after Katrina to repair several military bases in the Gulf Coast region.

A B-E-and-K spokeswoman says immigration officials descended on the work site, but she denies that any of its employees were detained.

She says that all the company's workers have valid work documents and that only about three of the 150 workers at the Navy base are green-card holders.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Web of Truth

By Neely Tucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 19, 2005; C01

Bunny Greenhouse was once the perfect bureaucrat, an insider, the top procurement official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Then the 61-year-old Greenhouse lost her $137,000-a-year post after questioning the plump contracts awarded to Halliburton in the run-up to the war in Iraq. It has made her easy to love for some, easy to loathe for others, but it has not made her easy to know.

In late August, she was demoted, her pay cut and her authority stripped. Her former bosses say it's because of a years-long bout of poor work habits; she and her lawyer say it's payback for her revelations about a politically connected company.

Now Bunnatine Hayes Greenhouse is becoming one of the most unusual things known in the upper echelons of government and industry -- a top-shelf bureaucrat who is telling all she knows. For honesty's sake, she says.

"It's not a process for the weak-hearted," says Jeffrey Wigand, the former tobacco company executive whose high-profile whistle-blowing inspired the film "The Insider."

Greenhouse, whose case has also become a media event, unloaded more of her burn-the-house-down allegations on PBS's "Now" last week because, let her tell you, Bunny Greenhouse didn't grow up on the black side of the segregated tracks in Rayville, La., to run from a fight -- even if that includes the vice president of the United States.

"[Expletive] yourself!" former Halliburton chief executiveand current veep Dick Cheney snapped at a senator last year in an exchange related to Greenhouse's allegations.

"If prison inmates don't like the warden who keeps them from breaking out," Greenhouse says of her stewardship of Corps contracting, "do you replace the warden because the inmates don't like him?"

Ah. Metaphors equating the Corps of Engineers with prison inmates. Expletives. Vice president. Throw in a subtext of race, gender and war profits. You see the problem here.

* * *

In the dazzling eye of memory, she can see the wiry object twisting there, perhaps in the lazy hours of a Sunday afternoon, when she pulled it out to admire it once again.

It was a bit of metal twisted in the shape of an eye, a gift from her big sister. It was kept, in a childhood pun, in a can: an Eye-Can . A reminder of can-do determination.

Lost in the middle of cotton country in the Louisiana delta at the mid-century, Bunnatine Hayes and her siblings clung to such self-confidence like a life raft. Their parents, Chris and Savannah Hayes, were uneducated and numbingly poor, stuck in a world run by richer, more powerful whites. They raised their children with a ferocious, almost frightening drive.

Bunny's older sister grew up to be one of the first black professors at Louisiana State University, holding a doctorate in linguistics and literature of Chaucer. An older brother got his doctorate and taught at Southern University in Baton Rouge. Her kid brother, Elvin -- Elvin Hayes -- grew up to score 27,000 points in the National Basketball Association, lead the Washington Bullets to their 1978 title and be named, at the end of the century, as one of the best 50 athletes to ever play the game.

"My father always taught me to be strong and have dignity, to not have to bow down or have anyone run over you," he once told a Dallas newspaper, summing up the family creed.

So it stands to reason that Bunny was not only valedictorian of her high school class, not only a magna cum laude graduate of Southern in three years (with a degree in math), but she also went on to get three master's degrees over the years -- in business management from the University of Central Texas, in engineering management from George Washington University and in national resources strategy from the National Defense University at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

She married an Army man, Al Greenhouse. She taught math and, during the lightning-rod year of local integration, came back to teach at her hometown high school. She was the first black teacher the white students had ever seen.

"At the time, I didn't quite know what to make of a black person who didn't have a hoe in their hand," remembers Miriam Lane Davey, a white student of Greenhouse's that year, 1968. "She had been somewhere else, she was cosmopolitan, she was sophisticated. It really changed my viewpoint. . . . Later on, when I saw Claire Huxtable [the wife on "The Cosby Show"], I thought she was just like Mrs. Greenhouse."

Greenhouse, like her famous kid brother, didn't have problems with self-confidence as an adult and, like her kid brother, didn't have a problem with letting others know that. When a reporter asks for her rsum, she hands over a 32-page document.

"The Hayeses were different ," she says now, proud. "They were raised different."

It's not clear who she means different from , but it is clear that she means they were exceptional, and Greenhouse would hew to little touches of refinement over the years. She is broad-shouldered, elegant, devoutly Christian. She often refers to herself in the third person. She enunciates "math" as mathematics ; "again" as agayn .

She followed Al in his career as an Army procurement official, and after 16 years as a teacher, entered government service. She started as a mere GS-5, near the bottom of the scale, specialized in the minutiae of contracting. She worked insane hours, attended endless job-improvement seminars, raised three children and climbed the government ladder, working at the Pentagon and for the Army.

In 1997, it all came together -- Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard hired her as one of the top civilians in the Corps of Engineers. Her position was the principal assistant responsible for contracting, or the PARC. She oversaw the management of billions of dollars. The job elevated her into the Senior Executive Service, the very top level of the federal government's 1.8-million-employee pyramid.

Ballard hired her, he has said, because she was "one of the most professional people I've ever met." As the first black director of the Corps, he also wanted her to break up the "good old boys' " network of informal contracting arrangements at the Corps, he said, to professionalize the agency.

Greenhouse was an instant success. She handled the budgets, conducted workshops, gave speeches, produced a newsletter, developed proposals for ways to save tens of millions of dollars, work records show.

"There wasn't another SES who could touch me sideways," she says.

Three years running, she was rated near or at the highest level possible in job reviews. Sample job review comments from those years: "Effective, enthusiastic, energetic, tenacious, selfless . . . ensured the epitome of fairness in Corps contracting . . . has ensured professionalism in the acquisition workforce second to none . . . made the tough decisions that reflect the highest degree of entrepreneurial and critical thought."

That should be the end of the story, shouldn't it? Isn't that the way these up-from-poverty things go?

* * *

In reality, there were fault lines developing in her job that would, during the Iraq war, blow up into national news.

Ballard once witnessed a senior Corps attorney yelling at Greenhouse in a staff meeting with such vitriol that Ballard had to clear the room to lecture the man about civility, he wrote in a 2003 affidavit. He wrote in the same document that he had been told that staff officers routinely made racist comments about Greenhouse and that they were greatly resistant to the idea of more minorities working there. After he retired in 2000, he was told that the senior attorney in question had told a director of human resources that the attorney had pledged to fire her, and he used a vulgarity in describing the woman who prided herself on being refined.

It's impossible to survey the full story of what happened in subsequent years, because most records have not been made public, and the Corps declines all comment on personnel issues. But it is clear, looking at documents requested from and made available by Greenhouse's lawyer, veteran whistle-blower attorney Michael Kohn, that her career hit an ugly wall shortly after Ballard left. Whether she failed at the larger aspects of her post or was undermined and removed under false pretenses is up for speculation.

Her new bosses said in an internal hearing that she was "hardheaded." She says she was told that "nobody likes you." She was assigned a deputy who, her superior later acknowledged, had problems dealing with "a female boss." The man eventually left after bitter confrontations with Greenhouse, but the episode led her to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging race and gender discrimination (a complaint that has never been investigated, Kohn says).

Her annual job reviews went from the best possible to the worst possible. Review panels twice instructed Corps officials to upgrade them, after concluding they were unwarranted. Sample remarks: "Needs to work harder to gain the respect of subordinates in her office. . . . Interaction with headquarters staff and field commanders is poor. . . . Attempts at counseling have been unproductive."

Ballard reviewed those appraisals in retirement. He called them "absurd" in his affidavit. He wrote that the problem was that Greenhouse was insisting that the letter of the law be followed and that when she refused to back down, she was pushed aside. (He did not return five phone calls requesting comment for this article.)

Before the war in Iraq even started, Greenhouse and her superiors were quarreling almost daily.

With the war looming, the agency wanted to award a no-bid "emergency" contract to Kellogg, Brown and Root (a Halliburton subsidiary) that was originally scheduled to last for two years -- and up to five years -- to provide a range of services in Iraq.

A potential five-year emergency? Worth billions? On a no-bid contract?

Greenhouse thought that was absurd. There were other companies who could do the work, she said, and they should be allowed to bid on it. She wrote that the original "emergency" contract should be limited to one year, with no options after that. She says when she got the final contract back, it was unchanged. So she wrote her reservations on it in ink.

Her notations became public through a media outlet's Freedom of Information Act request to see government war contracts. Given Halliburton's political connections, the issue eventually blew up into international news last fall, just before the elections. Greenhouse and Kohn gave interviews to national media. The FBI opened an investigation -- still ongoing -- into alleged price-gouging, overbilling and awarding of sole-source contracts to a politically connected company. Many of those questions still linger, and by no means do they all stem from Greenhouse, but from a range of sources. Greenhouse herself made several allegations of wrongdoing, but one of the most sensational charges, initially seeming to back up her concerns, was a Pentagon audit that found that KBR apparently overbilled the government $61 million for fuel in Iraq.

The audit was quelled, however, when the Corps granted KBR a waiver from explaining the apparent discrepancy. The agency said KBR's pricing had been dictated by an Iraqi subcontractor.

As the chief contracting officer, Greenhouse was furious. She said her superiors made an end-run around her. They waited until she was out of the office, she said, then hurriedly approved the paperwork in a single day. She was never told about it until it hit the headlines.

Halliburton spokeswoman Melissa Norcross wrote in an e-mail response to several questions that Greenhouse's claims of overcharges "are misinformed" and that the company "undertook substantial efforts -- including two competitive procurement processes -- to ensure that it was paying the lowest possible price."

Norcross also noted that a Government Accountability Office report said the initial contract dealing with Iraq was "properly awarded."

The atmosphere in the office was getting worse than unpleasant -- the Corps was already trying to demote her -- but Greenhouse was just getting a full head of steam.

This past summer, when she prepared to testify before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee -- the only congressional body that has expressed interest in her charges (though the committee has no oversight power) -- Greenhouse's superiors told her it would not be in her "best interests" to do so.

She thought about that over the weekend. She thought about the lessons her parents imparted to her, a half-century ago, in another time, another place.

Then she testified: "I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career."

It was stunning in its confrontational nature, its moral conviction, its assurance -- and, one might observe, in its full-blown career suicide.

The Corps kicked her out of her job weeks later.

In Greenhouse's dismissal letter, Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock said her removal was "based on her performance and not in retaliation for any disclosures of alleged improprieties she may have made." She was moved to a lesser post in the civil works division. She says she was "totally" removed from contracting and was banished from the Senior Executive Service. She also says her yearly salary has been cut by $2,000.

"They stuck me in a little cubicle down the hall, took my building pass," she said. "It's all about humiliation."

Her dismissal made national news, played out in editorials and news stories as a whistle-blower done wrong.

"She was aware she was taking considerable risk," says Marty Linsky, author and professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, who taught Greenhouse in a leadership seminar a few years ago. "She cared a lot about the values she believed in and was prepared to take risks that a lot people would not have."

The merits of her allegations about contracting, about her treatment in the Corps, remain unclear.

A Corps spokesman declined to address the specifics. Instead, the Corps issued a written statement that says the agency followed the law in its dealings with Halliburton. As for Greenhouse's EEOC complaint, the statement said the agency "takes seriously" its employees' right of privacy, and thus could not comment.

Any further investigation appears to be minimal.

This, from another DPC hearing last month, after Greenhouse was demoted:

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.): "Ms. Greenhouse, has the Inspector General's Office made any attempt to interview you?"

Greenhouse: "None whatsoever."

Dorgan: "None?"

Greenhouse: "None whatsoever."

Dorgan: "That's unbelievable to me."

* * *

It is 11:20 on a recent weeknight in Greenhouse's million-dollar home in Reston, a picture-perfect manse in a picture-perfect development.

In the formal dining room, elegant napkin holders, a shade between bone and gold, match placemats that match chair cushions that match picture frames that match just-so floor-length drapes. Moonlight floats across the manicured lawn outside.

It would be domestic perfection if not for the masses of white paper heaped on the dining room table, great reams of files held in place with black binder clips. Crumbs from a takeout chicken sandwich are on a plate. A couple of glasses of melted ice and Dr Pepper are leaving a ring on a stray document.

Greenhouse is still dressed in her office suit, going through files that she says will prove that she's right. The kids are grown and gone; Al is away on business most of the time. Cheryl, her daughter, says the family has tried to get her to find another job, but she has refused. She says her mom is very, very disappointed.

Alone in the house, Greenhouse sits at the table and considers the fight of her life, and perhaps if she's lost it, or whether she should elevate it to federal court.

"I learned very early that everything you did in life you did with every fiber of your being," she says, her voice a mix of pride and fury. "Why would I sit here now and let them tell me that I'm something I'm not? Why would I do that? I'm Bunny Greenhouse first, then I'm in a government position. I will not compromise who I am."

In that sentence, in the expansive, quiet house, you hear the echoes of her parents talking to her and her siblings in that sleepy, cotton-picking delta town, a place where the world told you that you were second-rate, second-class, an afterthought of humanity. You wonder how this is all going to end up, here in another place and another time; you wonder if the lessons of youth can always hold sway over the lessons of the world.