Dick Cheney- Corporate Criminal


Critic of No-Bid Halliburton Contract Demoted; Democrats Demand Probe

By T. Christian Miller, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Democrats demanded an investigation today into the demotion of a senior U.S. military contracting official who publicly criticized a controversial no-bid contract awarded to Halliburton Corp. for work in Iraq.

With more than 20 years experience in government procurement, Bunnatine Greenhouse had been the Army Corps of Engineers' top contracting officer until she was demoted to a lower-level staff position Saturday. The military says she was demoted for poor job performance.

Greenhouse had repeatedly challenged the Army Corps' commanding officers on their decision in 2003 to give a contract worth up to $7 billion to repair oil infrastructure to Halliburton, the Houston-based oil services company once run by Vice President Dick Cheney.

""They went after her to destroy her," said Michael Kohn, her attorney, who added that the demotion was "absolutely" retaliation for her complaints about the Halliburton contract.

Democrats, who had invited Greenhouse to testify about her concerns at a June hearing, asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in a letter today to reinstate her pending an investigation.

At that June hearing, Greenhouse called the Halliburton case "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career."

The Army secretary approved the Army Corps' decision to demote Greenhouse three weeks later.

"Retaliation against employees for providing information to Congress is illegal and entirely unacceptable," said the letter, which was signed by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Sens. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). "Ms. Greenhouse has given Congress important information essential to our oversight of waste, fraud and abuse."

Greenhouse had also angered major insurance companies with a proposal to save hundreds of millions of dollars by offering cheaper workers' compensation-style insurance to federal contractors. Her initiative drew sharp resistance from some of the country's most powerful insurance companies, which could have lost business under the proposal.

The Army Corps was scheduled to make an announcement on the cost-savings program as early as September. It was unclear whether Greenhouse's demotion would affect the program, which would have awarded the insurance to a single carrier through competitive bidding.

"This was her baby. She's the one who fought for this thing. And she made some people upset," said one insurance industry official who has monitored the program.

The officer who hired Greenhouse, who is black, said race also figured in her demotion.

Known for her insistence on following rules, she clashed repeatedly with a mostly white, "old boy" network at the Army Corps, according to Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard, the former Corps' commander who hired her.

"Greenhouse's race and gender ruffled a lot of feathers in the Corps command and also contributed to the disparate and highly critical treatment she has received," Ballard wrote as part of a deposition given during an internal process to appeal her demotion.

Ballard, who is also black, said he had received "similar treatment," even as commander.

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