Amy Goodman reports that a Pentagon whistleblower won a legal settlement for the retaliation she endured after challenging contracting abuses:
“War is a racket,” wrote retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Smedley D. Butler, in 1935. That statement, which is also the title of his short book on war profiteering, rings true today. One courageous civil servant just won a battle to hold war profiteers accountable. Her name is Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse. She blew the whistle when her employer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, gave a no-bid $7 billion contract to the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR) as the invasion of Iraq was about to commence. She was doing her job, trying to ensure a competitive bidding process would save the U.S. government money. For that, she was forced out of her senior position, demoted and harassed.
Just this week, after waging a legal battle for more than half a decade, Bunny Greenhouse won. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers settled with Greenhouse for $970,000, representing full restitution for lost wages, compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees.
Her “offense” was to challenge a no-bid, $7 billion-plus contract to KBR. It was weeks before the expected invasion of Iraq, in 2003, and Bush military planners predicted Saddam Hussein would blow up Iraqi oilfields, as happened with the U.S. invasion in 1991. The project, dubbed “Restore Iraqi Oil,” or RIO, was created so that oilfield fires would be extinguished. KBR was owned then by Halliburton, whose CEO until 2000 was none other than then-Vice President Dick Cheney. KBR was the only company invited to bid.
Bunny Greenhouse told her superiors that the process was illegal. She was overridden. She said the decision to grant the contract to KBR came from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, run by VP Cheney’s close friend, Donald Rumsfeld.
As Bunny Greenhouse told a congressional committee, “I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.”
Waste and corruption is endemic to war profiteering. More chaos means more opportunities to defraud tax payers. Federal auditors recently reported that the military has lost $6.6 billion in cash that was intended for the reconstruction of Iraq.
As the U.S. veers towards the fiscal precipice, Sen. Tom Coburn (R, Okla.) has revived proposals to cut the military budget, including:
(reducing) military personnel stationed in Europe and Asia by one-third. It calls for reducing authorized force levels by the same number, therefore not requiring increased U.S. facilities to handle the returnees. The estimated savings would be almost $70 billion over 10 years.
Cutting the Pentagon budget – wouldn’t that be a novel idea?