Whistleblowers Describe Halliburton's "Free Fraud Zone"

"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."

-- Bunnatine Greenhouse, top Army Corps of Engineers contract oversight official, turned whistleblower

Today's Democratic Policy Committee Hearing was another jawdropper.

The witnesses included:

1) Greenhouse -- the highest ranking civilian at the Army Corps of Engineers whose job it is to ensure openness and honesty in contracting. Greenhouse said that "essentially every aspect of the RIO contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense." In other words, Rumsfeld should be held responsible for giving his old pal Dick Cheney's firm Halliburton the no-bid contract before the war, under its global logistics contract, a violation of competitive contracting requirements (as Greenhouse testified and 60 Minutes reported, other contractors were itching to bid on the work but were never given a chance).

2) Rory Mayberry, a former manager of Halliburton's mess halls in Iraq, who testified that KBR fed U.S. troops expired food on a daily basis, and fed Turkish and Filipino workers "leftover food in boxes and garbage bags after the troops ate," while using beef, chicken, salads and sodas intended for the troops to cater parties and barbeques for KBR management and employees. He also said he was informed that "if we talked, we would be rotated out to other camps that were under fire."

3) Alan Waller and Gary Butters -- two top executives from Lloyd-Owen International, a transportation contractor who testified that one of their convoys was ambushed 2 kilometers from a U.S. base while bringing materials under a Halliburton contract. Not only were they not told by KBR that other contractors had been hit recently in the same area (they lost 3 individuals in the ambush), but upon arriving at the base were denied help by KBR (later learning from emails they obtained that KBR management had instructed its on site staff to offer no assistance).

Could this have anything to do with the fact that the company has a fuel supply contract with the Iraqi government that KBR would have had, if it hadn't been caught defrauding U.S. taxpayers for fuel shipments?

KBR still controls the military checkpoint along the Kuwait/Iraq border, where Lloyd-Owen has to bring over 100 fuel tankers across on a daily basis. They testified that KBR has hampered the company's ability to cross the border, using the fact that Lloyd-Owen does not have a U.S. Military contract as a technicality.

Meanwhile, they testified that Halliburton's incompetence in restoring fuel pumping and refinery equipment has also slowed fuel deliveries down, leading to the kind of festering resentments that are certain to fuel the resistance.

A joint report was also released at the hearing by Senator Dorgan and Rep. Henry Waxman, which estimates that Halliburton's questioned and unsupported costs in Iraq now exceed $1.4 billion, more than three times the previous estimate.