Army thinks punishing Halliburton might hurt troops
19 Aug. 2004
WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- The U.S. Army might withhold 15 percent of future reimbursements to Halliburton because the company apparently bills taxpayers for work that was never undertaken or completed. But the Army is having second thoughts about withholding payments to Halliburton because it might hurt the troops.###
Halliburton failed to meet numerous government deadlines to justify $1.8 billion in expenses -- or 43% of the company's bills submitted to the Pentagon. Under government contracting laws, the Army has authority to withhold 15 percent of future payments if Halliburton fails to provide an adequate explanation for where and how expenses were incurred. But the Army has been reluctant to exercise its authority to withhold payments despite the fact that Halliburton has repeatedly failed to explain its many suspicious bills.
Today, the Army has once again delayed any resolution of the suspicious billings by requesting information from Halliburton on how withholding payments might affect the troops. The Houston Chronicle reported that "Halliburton has been ordered to provide the Army Field Support Command with additional information by the end of today that would enable military planners to better assess what the billing controversy might mean to troops in the field." The newspaper further said, "If the payments are cut, Halliburton has said it will respond by cutting payments to the thousands of subcontractors." An Army spokesperson told the Chronicle that "Any decision has to consider what is right for and takes care of the soldiers."
The Army responded to suspicions that Vice President Dick Cheney's office made the decision to delay any withholding of payments to Halliburton. An Army spokesperson said "no parties" outside the Army's Field Support Command were involved in the decision-making, the Chronicle reported. "There's been no political pressure whatsoever," Col. Tim Considine, deputy commander for the Army Field Support Command, told the Washington Post.
But vice presidential hopeful John Edwards, who wants Cheney's job, said "I guess someone made a phone call, looking out for their interests instead of yours." Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) said: "The Bush administration's policy with Halliburton seems to be 'Don't worry about overcharging, don't worry about bilking the U.S. taxpayers, and certainly don't worry about getting paid.' "
Halliburton denies any involvement by Cheney.
The Washington Post reported that Halliburton's troop support contract in the Middle East (also known as the LOGCAP contract) has "become the largest contract of its kind." It said the Army has obligated $5.7 billion on the contract so far and has issued checks to Halliburton for $4.3 billion.
HalliburtonWatch: Pentagon says 43% of Halliburton's Iraq expenses are not verifiable
HalliburtonWatch: Halliburton overcharged for meals by $186 million
HalliburtonWatch: Two reports explain how Halliburton took taxpayers for a ride in Iraq
HalliburtonWatch: Gasoline Overcharges
HalliburtonWatch: Government widens criminal probe of Halliburton's gas overcharges
AP: Report says Halliburton did not account for billing $1.8 billion