Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), the subsidiary of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former employer, is back in the news after court documents from a whistleblower lawsuit filed last year were unsealed this week.
Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root charged millions to the government for recreational services never provided to U.S. troops in Iraq, including giant tubs of chicken wings and tacos, a widescreen TV, and cheese sticks meant for a military Super Bowl party, according to a federal whistle-blower suit unsealed Friday.
Instead, the suit alleges, KBR used the military’s supplies for its own football party. [emphasis added]
"Are you ready for some football… on this big screen TV that I stole for the military!?!" But wait, there’s more.
Filed last year in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., by former KBR employee Julie McBride, the lawsuit claims the giant defense contractor billed the government for thousands of meals it never served, inflated the number of soldiers using its fitness and Internet centers, and regularly siphoned off great quantities of supplies destined for American soldiers. [emphasis added]
In McBride’s suit, she alleges massive defrauding of the government by charging for the same soldier multiple times.
McBride worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, at Camp Fallujah’s recreation center, where the government was billed according to the number of soldiers using the contractor’s facilities, which included a weight room, video games, Internet cafe, a library and phone bank, the suit says. She alleges that KBR deliberately overstated the number of military personnel using its services by counting the same person several times. For example, a person who used a computer was counted as one. If that person went on the weight room, another count was added to the list of patrons.
"It wasn’t double-dipping, but triple dipping or even quadruple billing," the suit claims.
Timmy must be beside himself right about now. However, the Justice Department was not impressed and declined to join as a co-plaintiff in the case.
Such suits are usually sealed for 60 days while the Justice Department investigates the claims and decides whether the U.S. Attorney’s office will sign on as a co-plaintiff.
The Justice Department declined comment Friday on why it chose not to participate in McBride’s suit.
No surprises there.
If stealing from soldiers in a warzone didn’t make your blood churn, this will.
Rory Mayberry, who worked for KBR in 2004, testified from Iraq via videotape to a group of Democratic members of Congress investigating contractor fraud.
As food manager at another military camp in Iraq, Mayberry said he witnessed KBR employees serving spoiled food to American troops, including food from trucks that had been bombed and shot at. Workers were told to pick out the shrapnel, and then serve the food, Mayberry testified. [emphasis added]
"The administration is not enforcing the laws against fraud when it comes to contractors in Iraq," said Alan Grayson, the attorney who filed the suit. "When it comes to seeing that the law is executed, the Bush administration is a no-show."
Grayson accused the department of shirking its duties in the middle of a political season. Several dozen lawsuits alleging fraud in Iraq are believed to have been filed, but they remain under seal until the department completes its investigations.
Grayson is best known for having won another fraud case, which Justice officials also passed up, against a private security company named Custer Battles. That decision was recently overturned by a federal judge and is now on appeal.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-California) got a few shots in as well:
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles), who has been the leader in Congress in attacking Halliburton, said that the charges were further proof of war profiteering by the oil services giant.
"One former Halliburton employee after another tells the same story of outrageous and intentional overcharging," Waxman said in a statement. "Yet no one in the Bush administration seems to care."
This is one of the most disturbing and disgusting charges I have ever seen. Feeding our fighting men and women, people caught in the middle of a sectarian-based civil war, shrapnel-strewn food from bombed out trucks — all to save a buck for Cheney’s boys.
These companies are bilking the government dry for buildings I wouldn’t house my dog in and food I wouldn’t feed to a stray.
And I ask you — where is the outrage from the Republicans? Surely the GOP, being such strident self-described supporters of the military, would shield American soldiers from such abuse. However, thieving companies like KBR and Blackwater are deeply tied to the Republican Party. In fact, they are major contributors financially. This situation wedges the GOP between Iraq and a hard place. So where are their allegiances? To the brave men and women of the U.S. armed forces or to their financial backers?
The failure of this Republican-controlled Congress to act says it all.
Related According to MarketWatch, KBR has been a "drag" on Halliburton’s "thriving oil-field services."
The separation of Halliburton’s engineering and construction unit, also known as KBR, will be completed between January and April, Halliburton Chief Financial Officer Cris Gaut told investors."Our plan is for a tax-free spinoff of KBR to shareholders," Gaut said in comments that were Web cast. "That may be preceded by an IPO. We’ll make a decision in September as to whether the IPO market is sufficiently strong."A weak market for initial public offerings has kept Houston-based Halliburton from selling 20% of KBR earlier this summer after filing for an IPO in April. KBR also posted a $41 million operating loss in its second quarter, another potential turnoff to investors.
Halliburton considers KBR’s weak earnings a drag on its thriving oil-field services business, which is benefiting from strong energy prices.
Cape residents who received utilities in the SW-1, SW-2 and SW-3 assessment areas paid as much as $5,040 per month to Kellogg Brown and Root and eventually MWH Constructors Inc. after KBR defaulted on its contract to rent nine pickup trucks used by its inspectors. That’s $560 per month for each truck — one was listed as a 1987 pickup truck worth about $1,200 according to auto value services. The rental payments were paid to Halliburton Inc. and included payment for Texas property taxes.