Army auditors had determined that [Kellogg, Brown & Root--the Halliburton subsidiary] KBR lacked credible data or records for more than $1 billion in spending, so Mr. [Charles M.] Smith refused to sign off on the payments to the company. “They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify,” he said in an interview. “Ultimately, the money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn’t going to do that.”
But he was suddenly replaced, he said, and his successors — after taking the unusual step of hiring an outside contractor to consider KBR’s claims — approved most of the payments he had tried to block.
Army officials denied that Mr. Smith had been removed because of the dispute, but confirmed that they had reversed his decision, arguing that blocking the payments to KBR would have eroded basic services to troops. They said that KBR had warned that if it was not paid, it would reduce payments to subcontractors, which in turn would cut back on services.
“You have to understand the circumstances at the time,” said Jeffrey P. Parsons, executive director of the Army Contracting Command. “We could not let operational support suffer because of some other things.”
Mr. Smith’s account fills in important gaps about the Pentagon’s handling of the KBR contract, which has cost more than $20 billion so far and has come under fierce criticism from lawmakers.
While it was previously reported that the Army had held up large payments to the company and then switched course, Mr. Smith has provided a glimpse of what happened inside the Army during the biggest showdown between the government and KBR. He is giving his account just as the Pentagon has recently awarded KBR part of a 10-year, $150 billion contract in Iraq.
No, Mr. Parsons--I don't "gotta understand" anything. When your flimsy excuse for incompetence is to try to say that "things were really, really bad back then" you really should just come out and tell everyone the truth: "wow, we screwed the pooch and that money is gone, baby gone."
I sure wish we had known this story in 2004. It might have helped a significant number of Americans make a more informed decision as to who to vote for in the Presidential election held that year.
Anyway, the whole article is an eye-opener and I just can't understand--where's the perp walk? Why did KBR get another massive contract? If I'm outraged, and if you're outraged, when do we see some justice?