Friday, October 27, 2006

Halliburton & War Profiteering


Halliburton, the military contractor that has made the most money from our incursion into Iraq, has been charged in a government report with abusing federal contracting regulations. The allegations charge that Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, routinely hid information on their contractual work to prevent oversight.

Considering these contracts amount to $17 billion, this practice of marking their data 'propietary' and making it unavailable to the public, leaves a huge opening for potential abuse.

According to Reuters,
The company's actions were an abuse of federal contracting rules designed to protect truly proprietary information, said the report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Information as fundamental as the daily number of meals being served to U.S. soldiers at a dining facility was labeled "not releasable to the public," the report said.

Under a multibillion-dollar contract awarded in December 2001 to KBR, the company has been feeding, housing and providing other services to U.S. troops worldwide.

Hallibuton's 'defense'

The Houston Chronicle refers to Halliburton's defense of their practices...they just don't want their competitors to get a leg up on them:
While Bowen's office only examined the task order related to providing basic support services such as serving food and washing clothes for the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, KBR's "inappropriate" use of the proprietary designation could be "a systemic problem" throughout the $17 billion logistics contract with the Pentagon, the report said.

When asked by the Defense Contract Management Agency about the practice of marking so much information as "proprietary," the company argued, "KBR has encountered situations in the past where extremely competition sensitive data has found its way to the press and/or to the Internet."

Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann, in an e-mail, said the logistics contract is "currently being reviewed to potentially be divided among several contractors. As (Bowen's) report ... states, it is clearly appropriate to mark data as proprietary that could potentially be used for competitive purposes, as would be the case in a potentially new (logistics) contract in the future."

Investigation by Democrats

A Democratic congressional panel has found that many instances of abuse have already taken place.

The Chronicle, in conclusion, had this to report:
On Friday, the Democratic Policy Committee issued a Top 20 list of "oversight outrages" the panel had investigated.

Fifteen related to Halliburton.

"Clearly, there is an urgent and compelling case for taking a close look at what is going on with these contracts," Dorgan said.

California Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, called Halliburton "a case study in corporate profiteering during wartime.

"Halliburton billed the taxpayer for millions of meals it never served and charged the government vastly inflated prices for fuel," Waxman said. "The company has now tried to conceal key information about these abuses from the inspector general and the public."
Considering how much money BushCo has funneled into the corporation once helmed by Vice President Dick Cheney, one would think that some attempt at oversight would have been instituted, simply as a way of being fiscally responsible. But Halliburton and KBR have seemingly been given free reign, thanks to a GOP House and Senate that has continuously looked the other way.

If the Democrats regain some degree of power after the mid-terms, one of the first priorities, and a way of saving America billions in wasted taxpayer dollars, should be to start a process that will eventually lead to the criminalization of war profiteering.

How many pre-emptive invasions do you think the neo-cons would be able to start if their corporate backers had no economic benefit from such incursions?

3 comments:

A Campanelli said...

There is no reason for the crooks to get away, even if they are politically connected. There is a powerful weapon with which to take down the contractors who defraud the U.S. Government and taxpayers. The problem is that those who hold the weapon have no idea it exists. Under a unique federal law, ANY person, including employees of defense contractors, who learn that a company has defrauded the federal government, can file a claim to recover triple the amount defrauded from the goverment. If they do, they typically get to keep up to 30% of the money recovered as a reward. To learn how, anyone can go to www.FederalFraud.com

Bluebear2 said...

The amount of criminal activity this administration has buried under the name of Propietary Information and National Security is astounding.

Bluebear2 said...

Nice site you have here. Came across it through the link in your comment at Huffinton Post's Lizard Brain story.
I've added you to my list of links.