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Submitted by Charleston Voice
Aug. 29, 2005

Halliburton Deal Critic Demoted: Report

Greenhouse's lawyer dubbed the move "obvious reprisal".

CAIRO, August 29, 2005 ( A high-level US Army official who openly criticized a multibillion-dollar, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq, was removed from her job for what the Army called "poor job performance", according to US press reports Monday, August 29.

Top contracting official Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, has worked in military procurement for 20 years, making it to a highly senior post before being demoted in a move branded as an a "reprisal act" by her attorney, according to The New York Times.

For the past several years, she had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq, the paper said.

The demotion, according to the report, removes her from the elite Senior Executive Service and reassigns her to a 'lesser job' in the Army Corps' civil works division.

She has initially complained internally about this contract, but last fall she started giving interviews to national publications, the Washington Post said, adding that as Greenhouse became more vocal internally, she said she was increasingly excluded from decisions and shunned by her bosses.

Contract Abuse

Ignoring warnings from her superiors, Greenhouse appeared in late June 2005 before a congressional panel and called the Kellogg Brown & Root oil contract "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career".

She accused the Defense Secretary's office of improperly interfered in the awarding of the contract.

The Time magazine revealed in its June 7 edition the US Vice President Dick Cheney "coordinated" the multibillion-dollar oil contract in Iraq to his former employer Halliburton before the US-led war to occupy the oil-rich country.

Halliburton, which has been accused by some Democrats of war profiteering, was led by Cheney before he became vice president.

It was reported last December that the corporation, which was awarded a multi-billion no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq's oil industry, embarrassed the Bush administration after overcharging US forces in Iraq for fuel by up to $61 million.

The Pentagon had announced that firms from the countries that opposed the US-led invasion of oil-rich Iraq, notably Canada, France, Germany and Russia, would not get any of Iraq's prime reconstruction contracts.

Obvious Reprisal

Greenhouse's lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an "obvious reprisal" for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of Army Corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, which has garnered more than $10 billion for work in Iraq.

"She is being demoted because of her strict adherence to procurement requirements and the Army's preference to sidestep them when it suits their needs," Kohn said Sunday, according the Washington Post.

Kohn appealed the decision Friday in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, saying it broke an earlier commitment to suspend the demotion until a "sufficient record" was available to address her allegations, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The failure to abide by the agreement and the circumstances of the removal "are the hallmark of illegal retaliation," Kohn wrote to Rumsfeld.

Carol Sanders, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said Sunday that the personnel action against Greenhouse had been approved by the Department of the Army.

Quoting a memorandum dated June 3, 2005, as the demotion was being arranged, the paper said the commander of the Army Corps, Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, said the administrative record "clearly demonstrates that Ms. Greenhouse's removal from the SES is based on her performance and not in retaliation for any disclosures of alleged improprieties that she may have made".

Known as a stickler for the rules on competition, Greenhouse initially received stellar performance ratings, Kohn said.

But her reviews became negative at roughly the time she began objecting to decisions she saw as improperly favoring Kellogg Brown & Root, he said.

In October, Strock, citing two consecutive performance reviews that called Greenhouse an uncooperative manager, informed her that she would be demoted, the paper said.

Greenhouse fought the demotion through official channels, and publicly described her clashes with Corps of Engineers leaders over a five-year, $7 billion oil-repair contract awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root, arguing that if urgency required a no-bid contract, its duration should be brief.

Her demotion was delayed, the Times said, when the Army's senior legal officials said they would first seek an independent investigation of her reprisal complaint.

"The Army has referred this matter to the Department of Defense inspector general for their review and action, as appropriate," the paper quoted an Oct. 22, 2004 letter to Greenhouse's lawyer from Robert M. Fano, the Army's chief of civilian personnel law, as saying.

But on July 14, the Army secretary approved Greenhouse's demotion, effective August 27.

Original Article

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