By Deborah Hastings The Associated Press
Published: Aug 6, 2005
WASHINGTON(AP) - "Others besides Bunnatine Greenhouse have testified that Halliburton, the biggest holder of American rebuilding contracts in Iraq, has deceived the government and cheated taxpayers.The company denies the claims.
"Rory Mayberry, who worked for Halliburton subsidiary KBR from February through April 2004, testified from Iraq, via videotape, to the Democratic Policy Committee in June.
As a food manager at a U.S. military camp, Mayberry said he witnessed KBR employees serving spoiled food to American troops, including items whose expiration date was more than a year old, and food from trucks that had been bombed and shot at. "We were told to go into the trucks and remove the food items and use them after removing the bullets and any shrapnel," Mayberry said.
"Halliburton also charged the U.S. government for hundreds of specialty meals prepared for foreign workers from Turkey and the Philippines, Mayberry said. The foreign workers were actually given leftovers from troop meals, Mayberry said.
KBR managers told employees not to speak with government auditors who arrived at the camp, Mayberry said, saying he ignored those orders. As punishment, he said, he was sent to Fallujah for three weeks, where there was heavy fighting. "The employees that talked to the auditors were moved to other bases that were under fire," Mayberry told the committee. Its members expressed outrage.
"There obviously is no honor by a company that would serve outdated food to American troops in Iraq, serving their country," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. "The more I learn, the more I shake my head and wonder. Who on Earth is minding the store here?"
"Halliburton spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said the claims were a "gross mischaracterization." KBR does not interfere with government auditors, she said. Food service is monitored by employees and invoices are not padded. "The only thing that has been inflated is the political rhetoric," Norcross said.
"In July 2004, former KBR logistics and subcontract planner MarieDeYoung testified before the House Committee on Government Reform. While working in Kuwait, she said, she was told by KBR managers to pay invoices to subcontractors without verifying their accuracy - because government auditors were only scrutinizing unpaid bills.
DeYoung said she also witnessed "significant waste and overpricing" for laundry and other services provided to troops. That included paying $100 per 15-pound bag of laundry in Iraq, a cost which was passed on to the government.
"Every dollar that is squandered because of waste, fraud, or abuse is a dollar we do not have for critical equipment and supplies for our troops," said DeYoung, who served more than 10 years in the military as a commander, a chaplain and an operations officer".