'Highway Robbery' at Halliburton

Today, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced a suspension of Halliburton's no-bid contract for oil services in Iraq. This announcement comes after several weeks of pressure by House Democrats who have led the charge to increase transparency regarding Halliburton's prices and contracting procedures. For months, Congressmen Waxman and Dingell made inquiries to Bush's Office of Management and Budget as well as other administration officials asking for information on Halliburton's prices. Their requests were met with silence.

Halliburton has been charging the American people more than double the cost of transporting fuel into Iraq. Not only have energy experts said that Halliburton's prices amount to "highway robbery," but the Director of the Defense Energy Support Center, an office within the Pentagon, said that Halliburton looked as if it was charging "excessively high" prices to the American people. Reports released yesterday suggest that the Defense Energy Support Center can transport fuel into Iraq for less than half the amount that Halliburton has charged the American people.

The corruption doesn't stop there. On Tuesday, House Republicans conveniently stripped the Iraqi supplemental bill of a provision that would hold corporations, such as Halliburton, accountable for war profiteering. At the same time, Halliburton was coming under fire for pricing schemes and war profiteering, House Republicans were protecting Halliburton even before the full facts were put before American taxpayers.

Although Halliburton's contract for oil transportation to Iraq has been suspended, many questions remain unanswered:

  • Why did the Department of Defense award a no-bid contract to Halliburton when its own Defense Energy Support Center could do the job for half the price?

  • Why did the Bush Administration ignore requests from members of Congress about Halliburton's pricing schemes?

  • Why was Halliburton's no-bid contract extended and re-extended for this long?

  • Why did the US Army Corps of Engineers suspend Halliburton's contract days after Congress stripped the Iraqi Supplemental of a provision that would prosecute companies for war profiteering?

At a time when program funding is being slashed and state and local governments face the worst fiscal crisis since World War II, we can't afford to waste taxpayer money on corporate corruption. The American people don't mind sacrificing in times of national crisis. However, sacrificing their well being for Halliburton's profits is going way too far. Congress should initiate an investigation of Halliburton's past overcharging to American taxpayers. Senator Lieberman was right when he said today that Halliburton should have to pay the American people back for their overcharges.

Bracken Hendricks is the executive director of the Apollo Alliance for Good Jobs and Energy Independence. Skye Perryman is a policy fellow at the Institute for America's Future in Washington, DC. To learn more about how to take action against government corruption and for a positive energy and jobs strategy, visit www.apolloalliance.org.

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