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August 29, 2005

Bunnatine Greenhouse: Iraq Whistleblower Demoted for Her Trouble
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Greenhouse  The Bush Administration seems to have concluded that with everyone so preoccupied with what's going wrong politically and militarily in Iraq, now's a fine time to ride roughshod over accountability and integrity on the reconstruction side.

Army Corps of Engineers' top civilian official Bunnatine Greenhouse has been demoted for complaining about bloated no-bid contracts for Halliburton.  So while Iraq spirals downward with thousands of American lives and billions of taxpayer dollars at stake, we're seizing the moment to punish an official who tried to stand up for fairness and cost controls.

According to her lawyer, Greenhouse received stellar performance evaluations until she started to point out irregularities in the treatment of Kellogg, Brown and Root, a Halliburton subsidiary that's been awarded more than $10 billion in contracts for Iraqi reconstruction.  She argued that if no-bid contracts were to be granted, they should be short-term, rather than the 5-year, $7 billion oil deal awarded to KBR.  The NY Times reports that:

In late June, ignoring warnings from her superiors, Ms. Greenhouse appeared before a Congressional panel, calling the Kellogg Brown & Root oil contract "the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career." She also said the defense secretary's office had improperly interfered in the awarding of the contract.

Once her case started to attract publicity the Army agreed not to take any personnel action against her until an investigation by the Pentagon's inspector general was complete. 

But this week the Army broke the pact.  Its hard not to conclude that the timing was calculated to ensure that this story was hidden beneath an avalanche of worse news from Iraq, and bound to be forgotten by the time America gets back from its Labor Day vacation.


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Frankly I don't understand how she made it this far - once she spoke before Congress, the only question was what length of time would be considered a decent interval. We just found out.

...good for her. the federal government needs thousands more like her. she just has to hang tough for a few years while her court case ends through the system: she'll win.

Last year a Halliburton whistleblower claimed her superiors told her: We can be as dumb and stupid as we want in the first year of a war, nobody’s going to care.

Looks like they were insufficiently cynical, and they can be stupid and profitable for 6 years.

It's being buried under hurricane news rather than "worse news from Iraq".

The big media seems to be waiting until someone else makes this as big as it really is. They don't want to seem unpatriotic.

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