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Protecting the troops is secondary to protecting the oil fields

The following exchange between Rep. John F. Tierney (D-MA) and Halliburton/KBR's director of government compliance, William Walter, shows that the Bush administration began planning for troop safety long after it made plans to secure the safety of Iraq's oil fields.

Mr. TIERNEY. OK. Now, when GAO issued yesterday's report on LOGCAP [Halliburton's troop support contract], one of their key findings was that the planning for the use of LOGCAP's contract to support the troops in Iraq did not begin until after the fall of Baghdad. You looked at that report and didn't make any objections or corrections, so we are assuming that is an agreeable statement with you? That is when the planning started, after Baghdad fell?

Mr. WALTER. For the work in Iraq, yes, sir.

Mr. TIERNEY. So it is a little astonishing to me, and I think to others, the planning for what is going to happen to our troops, their meals, their water, their housing, the essentials of life, their protection, all of that doesn't even begin to happen until May 2003, after Baghdad falls, but in the meantime the administration had your company planning for Iraq's oil infrastructure months before it had a plan how to support our troops. The GAO report also indicated that the Army failed to follow its own guidelines. The Army's guidance recommends a comprehensive statement of work be developed in the early phases of the contingency planning. Can I take it that you were never charged by the Department of Defense to start the planning with respect to the support of the troops; and that it wasn't a case of your delaying it on your own?

Mr. WALTER. In Iraq, yes. We were already involved in the planning in many other areas, in Kuwait, in Afghanistan, in Djibouti and other locations. So we have been working with the Army in many other locations.

Mr. TIERNEY. So despite the contact that you had with them, they never asked you to start the contingency planning for the troop situation in Iraq until May 2003?

Mr. WALTER. To the best of my knowledge, yes.

Mr. TIERNEY. I think it is just disturbing, when we look at these priorities, that we have troops living in tents, eating MREs through August 2003, because there hadn't been adequate prewar planning for dining facilities and housing. We have heard reports over and over again that our troops didn't have enough body armor or armored vehicles.

(See the transcript of the hearing, page 565 of the hardcopy version or page 573 of the pdf version. Click here for the pdf version of the transcript.)