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Halliburton charges taxpayers for transporting empty cargo in Iraq
Friday, May 21, 2004

WASHINGTON - (Summary of Knight-Ridder Tribune Article) - Halliburton subsidiary, KBR, is charging U.S. taxpayers for transporting empty cargo throughout Iraq. Many of the transportation routes are frequent targets for attack by Iraqi resistance fighters. Twelve current and former truckers told the Knight-Ridder news service they had risked their lives driving empty trucks on the 300-mile route from Camp Cedar in southern Iraq to Camp Anaconda near Baghdad. The truckers said KBR billed the government for transporting what they called "sailboat fuel" because there was no cargo inside the trucks. KBR is reimbursed by the U.S. government for all costs related to transportation and then is paid a fee of one to three percent of those costs. So, KBR receives a higher fee if its costs are higher. Both KBR and the Army would not disclose the cost of transporting empty trucks around Iraq, but Knight-Ridder cited trucking experts who estimate that each round trip costs taxpayers thousands of dollars. Knight-Ridder also said it reviewed KBR records of the empty trips, dozens of photographs of empty flatbed trucks and a videotape that showed 15 empty trucks in one convoy. KBR said billing the government for transporting empty cargo is normal because of the large number of trucks it has delivering goods throughout Iraq. They said empty trucks would be transported to another location to retrieve cargo. But truckers interviewed by Knight-Ridder dispute that. "Sometimes we would go with empty trailers; we would go both ways," said one driver. "We'd turn around and go back with empty trailers." Another KBR driver described the empty trucking runs as "fraud and abuse." These truckers are risking their lives to transport empty cargo, but the Army does not require each trucking run be full with cargo.