|Army Contracting Chief Removed After Reporting Halliburton Contract Abuse|
Washington, D.C., August 29, 2005. Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, was the senior Army Corps of Engineers contracting officer since 1997 until she was demoted on Saturday, August 27 after she raised concerns over contracts abuse related to the award of billions of dollars in contracts by the Army Corps of Engineers to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root. Greenhouse was brought into the Corps by a former Corps Commander, Major General Ballard, to help him clean up the contract abuse. When General Ballard hired her in 1997 she was overqualified - three master's degrees and more than 20 years of contracting experience in private industry, the Army and the Pentagon. "She is probably the most professional person I've ever met," Ballard said during an interview with AP.
The Corps first tried to remove Ms. Greenhouse in October of 2004. When
it was revealed that her removal was tied to her objecting to contracts
being awarded to Halliburton, the then Acting Secretary of the Army,
Les Brownlee, withdrew the Corps attempt to remove Ms. Greenhouse as
the chief of contracting and instructed that she could not be removed
until a meaningful investigation of her allegations was substantially
complete. When the investigation into her allegations seemed to be
stalled, Ms. Greenhouse decided to testify at a hearing held by
Democratic lawmakers. In June she voluntarily appeared before a panel
of lawmakers and revealed that the office of the Secretary of Defense
was heavily involved with the terms of the contracts to be awarded
Halliburton and stated that the Halliburton contracts represented "the
most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the
course of my professional career." Days before she decided to
voluntarily appear before the panel of lawmakers, a high-level Corps
attorney paid Ms. Greenhouse a visit and let it be known that it would
not be in her best interest to appear voluntarily. Undeterred,
Greenhouse appeared and three weeks later she was notified that she was
going to be removed from office. Her lawyer, Michael Kohn (General
Counsel of the National Whistleblowers Center) stated that her removal
constitutes "blatant discrimination" and violates an earlier agreement
with the Army to suspend her demotion until "a sufficient record"
pertaining to her complaints is complete. "The failure to abide by
prior commitments and the circumstances surrounding Ms. Greenhouse's
removal are the hallmark of illegal retaliation," her attorney, Michael
D. Kohn, wrote in the letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
So far, Secretary Rumsfeld has refused to comment and has forwarded
journalists to the Army.