9.19.2005

Chronology of Crap


The following are all excerpts from articles (as dated) at Halliburton Watch:

Sept. 1:
The US Navy asked Halliburton to repair naval facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the Houston Chronicle reported today. The work was assigned to Halliburton's KBR subsidiary under the Navy's $500 million CONCAP contract awarded to KBR in 2001 and renewed in 2004. The repairs will take place in Louisiana and Mississippi.

KBR has not been asked to repair the levees destroyed in New Orleans which became the primary cause of most of the damage.

Since 1989, governments worldwide have awarded $3 billion in contracts to KBR's Government and Infrastructure Division to clean up damage caused by natural and man-made disasters.

Earlier this year, the Navy awarded $350 million in contracts to KBR and three other companies to repair naval facilities in northwest Florida damaged by Hurricane Ivan, which struck in September 2004. The ongoing repair work involves aircraft support facilities, medium industrial buildings, marine construction, mechanical and electrical improvements, civil construction, and family housing renovation.

In March, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is tasked with responding to hurricane disasters, became a lobbyist for KBR. Joe Allbaugh was director of FEMA during the first two years of the Bush administration.
Sept. 8:
The former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Joseph Allbaugh, now a lobbyist for Halliburton, is in Louisiana helping his clients obtain disaster relief contracts, the Washington Post reported today.

But Allbaugh insisted he's not in Louisiana seeking contracts for clients.

"I don't do government contracts," he told the Post from Louisiana. Instead, he says he's "just trying to lend my shoulder to the wheel, trying to coordinate some private-sector support that the government always asks for."

But that's not the same thing as seeking government contracts for clients, says Allbaugh.

“The first thing he says when he sits down with a client is, ‘Don’t hire me if you’re looking for a government contract,’” an Allbaugh spokesperson defensively told The Hill newspaper today.

With all the public outrage over Halliburton's contracts, it's not surprising that Allbaugh would distance himself from the word "contract" even though he's involved in helping clients obtain government contracts in Louisiana, Iraq and elsewhere.

Even Republicans on Capitol Hill are feeling a bit disgusted. “I think there are some laws that have to be changed, especially [when contracting] in emergency situations and the like," Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, told the Hill.
Sept. 10:
Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration's first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W. Bush's former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.

One is Shaw Group Inc. and the other is Halliburton Co. subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice President Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton.

Bechtel National Inc., a unit of San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp., has also been selected by FEMA to provide short-term housing for people displaced by the hurricane. Bush named Bechtel's CEO to his Export Council and put the former CEO of Bechtel Energy in charge of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Experts say it has been common practice in both Republican and Democratic administrations for policy makers to take lobbying jobs once they leave office, and many of the same companies seeking contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have already received billions of dollars for work in Iraq.

Halliburton alone has earned more than $9 billion. Pentagon audits released by Democrats in June showed $1.03 billion in "questioned" costs and $422 million in "unsupported" costs for Halliburton's work in Iraq.

But the web of Bush administration connections is attracting renewed attention from watchdog groups in the post-Katrina reconstruction rush. Congress has already appropriated more than $60 billion in emergency funding as a down payment on recovery efforts projected to cost well over $100 billion.
Sept. 16:
A former contracting officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) told a congressional committee today that Halliburton regularly threatens government officials who complain about contracting abuse.

Christy Watts, who was Chief of Contracting at USACE in Louisville, Kentucky, said Halliburton and USACE "habitually" violate contracting regulations and demand employees conceal it from the public. She described a culture of fear and intimidation designed to protect Halliburton's bottom line.

"One point I need to make very clear: in my 18 years in contracting, I had never, with any other company except Halliburton, been treated in such a demeaning and intimidating manner," Watts told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. "When pointing out to Halliburton personnel their contractual non-compliances, I was threatened verbally and physically intimidated for performing my job," she said.

Watts told the committee about frightening examples of Halliburton officials throwing temper tantrums or telephoning her home after midnight to scream at her for awarding contracts to competitors. In one instance, she was verbally accosted after informing the company that it violated regulations by failing to award 20 percent of subcontracts in Alaska to small businesses.

Watts, who worked for USACE for 12 years, is a self-described Republican who voted both times for President George W. Bush. She says contracting abuse and intimidation by her employer occurred in the Clinton administration as well.

"The problems are systemic and have been occurring for decades – through both Republican and Democrat administrations," she said. "Please serve the interests of the American people and address this as an issue of right and wrong – nothing more, nothing less."

Her superiors apparently have contempt for the government. She said USACE "views contracting professionals as a drag on their ability to do what they want." If a contracting officer speaks out against abuse, "they can expect to be terminated," she said.

When Watts left her employment with USACE, her superiors were worried she might go public with her allegations. So, they demanded a settlement agreement which banned her from contacting the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which would be tasked with investigating her complaints. "I have concluded that the act of preventing me from communicating my concerns of contract abuse and unlawful activity freely to the Special Counsel is evidence of waste, fraud, abuse and corruption," she said.

Watts also disclosed an internal Army memorandum from her superior who admitted that Watts could make USACE "look really bad, if all the problems are found that I think they will find."

Another USACE whistleblower, Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, also spoke before the committee. Greenhouse's allegations of contracting abuse are being investigated by the Justice Department and the Pentagon's inspector general. Nevertheless, USACE recently demoted her after she disclosed her complaints to Congress. "I was removed because I steadfastly resisted and attempted to alter what can be described as casual and clubby contracting practices by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanders, and because I presented testimony before this body on June 27, 2005," she said.

Although USACE officials were invited to the committee hearing, they declined to appear.

Halliburton's KBR subsidiary stands to gain additional contracts to repair damage left by Hurricane Katrina. Estimates of the federal government's reconstruction costs have been as high as $200 billion. USACE has already utilized KBR's Navy contract, or CONCAP, to hire the company for Katrina clean-up work. The Navy has currently provided two task orders to KBR, one worth $12 million for cleaning up and repairing Navy installations in Pascagoula and Gulfport, Mississippi. The other, worth $15 million, will be used by USACE and KBR for pumping water and building temporary morgues in New Orleans.
Allow me to make some salient points:

  1. As it did with 9/11, The Doubleduh-Cheney Gang will use Katrina and subsequent tragedies as opportunities to make billions for the Gang's bankers

  2. Doubleduh has "accepted responsibility" for feds' Keystone Kops act in the Gulf. I thought that chief executives found responsible for such things resigned, got fired, and/or got thrown in jail. Why aren't Dumbocrats calling for both Doubleduh and Cheney to resign?

  3. Congress, regardless of party, is incapable of facing the reality that the tax code must be set on its head and Iraq must be abandoned to its own quite capable devices in the face of overwhelming evidence that the present course and policies are suicidal

  4. Katrina is only an example of what's to come. Future catastrophies will be worse; the racial divide will widen; chaos will eventually result in anarchy and a major collapse of constitutional principles and processes


Our governments have systematically brought us to this place. And yet we're nowhere near committing ourselves to the level of organized non-violent resistance and change that will save us from ourselves. Sad . . . just sad.