Thursday, June 25, 2009

An Open Response to Halliburton


An Open Response to Halliburton
Ms. Gabriel,

I’m writing in response to your June 23rd request for an immediate correction to a statement made regarding the Halliburton Corp. in my June 20th article, Healthcare: Why Can't We Get the Congressional Option? Your communication reads as follows:


The article, “Healthcare: Why Can't We Get the Congressional Option?” posted Saturday, June 20, on The Wattree Chronicle contains information about Halliburton that is completely misleading and incorrect.

Halliburton is not a military contractor. Halliburton is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry, and serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the lifecycle of the reservoir – from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data, to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field.

You will note that all of the government services and engineering and construction businesses have been and remain with KBR. To confirm, KBR and Halliburton are completely separate and independent of each other. Halliburton separated KBR from the company in April 2007 (

We respectfully request you make this correction immediately.
Kind regards,

Diana Gabriel
Senior Manager, Public Relations
Office: 713.759.2608
Cell: [Redacted]
Fax: 281.575.5790

While I am always careful to obtain multiple sources for any assertions that I make in my articles, nevertheless, I went back to objectively revisit the facts just in case it was necessary to accommodate your request. Halliburton is only mentioned one time in the entire article, and the paragraph reads as follows:

“And there's a very logical reason for that. Business, by it's very nature, is designed to generate profit, not to provide services - there was ample evidence of that during the Bush administration. Prior to the military turning over many of its support services to Halliburton, for example, we never heard about our troops being given contaminated water or being electrocuted in the shower. The reason for that is our military's top priority was maintaining the troops, while Halliburton's top priority is maximizing its profits. The very same dynamic is at work when it comes to insuring our citizens - and the politicians know it, but they don't care, because again, for them, it's about me first, and only then, the public good. I mean, am I the only one sick of these people dictating what is on and off the table? I don't think so.”

Try as I might, Ms. Gabriel, I can’t find anything inaccurate about that statement. While you pointed out that “Halliburton separated KBR from the company in April
2007," testimony before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee indicates that KBR was providing our military with substandard services long before then - and then, being rewarded for it.

On May 20, 2009 Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, opened the hearings on “Rewarding Failure: Contractor Bonuses for Faulty Work in Iraq,” with the following statement, which reads in part:

“Today’s hearing is a result of this Committee’s continuing investigation into the deaths of over a dozen U.S. soldiers by electrocution in Iraq. That investigation has led us to internal Pentagon documents showing that in 2007 and 2008, contractor KBR received bonuses of $83.4 million for work that, according to the Pentagon’s own investigation, led to the electrocution
deaths of U.S. troops.”

That doesn’t mean that the work was performed in 2007 and 2008 - that’s when they received the bonuses.

The committee’s third witness was Mr. Charles Smith. Mr Smith was the former Chief of HQ, Army Field Support Command, Field Support Contracting Division. According to Sen. Dorgan’s opening statement, “In that capacity, he [Mr. Smith] managed the massive LOGCAP contract that the Pentagon awarded to KBR, until he was forced out of his job in 2004 when he refused to approve paying KBR more than $1billion in questionable charges." He went on to say, "I should note that Mr. Smith was removed from his job despite the fact that in November 2004 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld awarded him the Department of Defense’s Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service.”

Mr. Smith’s testimony includes the following:

“In August 2004, the Army’s approach to KBR underwent a complete change. The goal of award fee boards became one of making KBR financially sound, even if it was not performing in accordance with the contract. This was consistent with actions to rescind the 15% withhold definitize contract cost estimates well above the DCAA recommended amounts, and remove me from my position. The Army’s stated reason is that it was afraid KBR would cease performance or allow their subcontractors to cease performance. I did not think this was a credible threat, as KBR would have lost its military business entirely by this action. I do not believe the Army has
stated the real reason for its change in approach to KBR.”

So frankly, Ms. Gabriel, I don’t see where I was inaccurate at all. In fact, Halliburton’s position seems to be completely analogous to a man who gets his hand shot off while committing a robbery, then pleads not guilty on the grounds that he’s no longer associated with the hand that held the gun.

Thus, with all due respect, I think I’ll let the article stand as is. I don’t see where it is the least bit misleading. In fact, upon review, I don’t think I went far enough - but I fully intend to remedy that situation in the very near future.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everybody who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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