Excerpts from the NY Times article via Truthout:
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...
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."
But there is more regarding Dick Cheney's favorite crony company. Remember how the Bush administration dragged its feet when hurricane Katrina hit, leaving thousands of poor Americans to die? Well, when they finally got off their asses and DID something, one of their first actions was to award Halliburton YET ANOTHER no-bid contract. This time to clean up in New Orleans. Halliburton and its subcontractors then hired hundreds of undocumented Latino workers to clean up after Katrina, then mistreated them and kicked them out onto the streets without pay. In essence, Halliburton used slave labor in Louisiana.
Here are excerpts from Salon.com's article on this scandal:
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...
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 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has long drawn criticism for its proximity to Vice President Dick Cheney, formerly Halliburton's CEO.
Why is this company, which overcharges the Federal government, mistreats workers and is not very effective in what it is hired to do, favored so highly by the Bush administration? CORRUPTION! Dick Cheney was on the board of this company and still makes money from his past connections. This is a clear case of the corruption of the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhauer warned us against.
Please write a letter to the editor complaining about this corruption and Dick Cheney's role in favoring Halliburton.