Bunnatine Greenhouse, Halliburton Critic, Demoted

Bunnatine Greenhouse, the former head of procurement for the Army Corps of Engineers, has been demoted. Given that she has criticized the awarding of contracts to Halliburton, the move has naturally sparked controversy.

Army official who questioned Halliburton deal reported demoted (AFP)

A top US Army contracting official who criticized a large, noncompetitive contract with the Halliburton Company for work in Iraq has been demoted for what the Army called poor job performance, The New York Times reported. The newspaper said Bunnatine Greenhouse has worked in military procurement for 20 years and for the past several years had been the chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that has managed much of the reconstruction work in Iraq. The demotion removes her from the elite Senior Executive Service and reassigns her to a lesser job in the corps’ civil works division, the report said.

Greenhouse’s lawyer, Michael Kohn, called the action an “obvious reprisal” for the strong objections she raised in 2003 to a series of corps decisions involving the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc., which has garnered more than 10 billion for work in Iraq, The Times said.

[…]

In a memorandum dated June 3, 2005, the commander of the corps, Lieutenant General Carl Strock, said the administrative record “clearly demonstrates that Ms. Greenhouse’s removal from the SES. is based on her performance and not in retaliation for any disclosures of alleged improprieties that she may have made.”

Outspoken critics are sometimes improperly punished for embarrasing their superiors. Sometimes, though, they are outspoken critics because they are disgruntled that they can not persuade their superiors of their policy preferences and are overruled. Given the extreme Left’s interest in proving that the war was all about enriching Halliburton, one presumes the details of this will all come out in short order.

It is worth noting, too, that Kellogg, Brown & Root was deemed to be literally the only company in the world with the capacity to handle a mission of this scope. It’s why the Clinton administration, and the first Bush administration, used them, too. The fact that Dick Cheney no longer gets paid based on Halliburton’s profits–and would have made a hell of a lot more money had he stayed on as their president rather than the comparatively nominal salary of the Vice President–is likely lost on the extremists.

Update: The NYT story is here. (RSS)

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    I’m a little suspicious of the timing and sequence of events. she’s been in the contracting business for 20 years and was given this position awhile before all of this happened. But it would appear the negative actions only occured after she went public. Doesn’t the whistleblower act offer any protection in this case?

  2. TJIT says:

    I wonder if Halliburton misses the days before Cheney was their CEO. Before Cheney they were the second biggest oilfield service company in the world. After Cheney they have become evil incarnate;-)

  3. DC Loser says:

    Here’s the key part of the NYT piece:

    Mr. Kohn said that when he telephoned Dan Meyer, director of civilian reprisal investigations in the inspector general’s office, on Aug. 24, Mr. Meyer was “shocked” to learn that the corps had proceeded against Ms. Greenhouse. Mr. Meyer said that he was immediately opening a “civilian reprisal” investigation and faxed forms to Mr. Kohn to initiate the process, Mr. Kohn said.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Of course, investigating reprisals is the guy’s raison detre, so it’s hardly surprising that he’d immediately launch an investigation when an SES was fired under these circumstances. Indeed, one would hope he would just to ensure against charges of impropriety.

  5. tristero says:

    By Extreme Left, apparently you mean everyone to the left of David Duke.

    But back here in the reality-based community, we know Bush’s Iraq war wasn’t only about enriching Halliburton. Nor was it THE main reason.

    But if it wasn’t intentional, then Dick Cheney’s employers (excuse me, former employers) just got lucky, huh?

    (To be blunt, I can’t figure out why Bush invaded Iraq, along with that steadfast Coalition of the Willing of course, given that Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 and he knew there was no pre-war evidence of WMD worth anything.)

  6. Anderson says:

    To be blunt, I can’t figure out why Bush invaded Iraq, along with that steadfast Coalition of the Willing of course, given that Saddam had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 and he knew there was no pre-war evidence of WMD worth anything.

    Because Bush came in with a crowd of people, Cheney & Wolfowitz most prominently, who were determined that Saddam had to be removed. They then cynically used the deaths of almost 3,000 Americans as their opportunity to do so. Recall Rumsfeld complaining, a couple of days after 9/11, that we should be attacking Iraq, not Afghanistan.

  7. maddmatt says:

    God there were so many lies in this article I don’t know where to begin? How about with this, Cheney gets delayed stock options that are a function of how much Halliburton makes, they make more money his stock is worth more. And it is funny how 20 years of exemplary service go down the drain when you actually do your job, but it upsets the boys upstairs

  8. James Joyner says:

    maddmatt: Perhaps you should do a bit of research.

    From FactCheck.org:

    The $398,548 Halliburton has paid to Cheney while in office is all deferred compensation, a common practice that high-salaried executives use to reduce their tax bills by spreading income over several years. In Cheney’s case, he signed a Halliburton form in December of 1998 choosing to have 50% of his salary for the next year, and 90% of any bonus money for that year, spread out over five years. (As it turned out, there was no bonus for 1999.) We asked Cheney’s personal attorney to document the deferral agreement as well, and he supplied us with a copy of the form , posted here publicly for the first time.

    Legally, Halliburton can’t increase or reduce the amount of the deferred compensation no matter what Cheney does as vice president. So Cheney’s deferred payments from Halliburton wouldn’t increase no matter how much money the company makes, or how many government contracts it receives.

    On the other hand, there is a possibility that if the company went bankrupt it would be unable to pay. That raises the theoretical possibility of a conflict of interest — if the public interest somehow demanded that Cheney take action that would hurt Halliburton it could conceivably end up costing him money personally. So to insulate himself from that possible conflict, Cheney purchased an insurance policy (which cost him$14,903) that promises to pay him all the deferred compensation that Halliburton owes him even if the company goes bust and refuses to pay. The policy does contain escape clauses allowing the insurance company to refuse payment in the unlikely events that Cheney files a claim resulting “directly or indirectly” from a change in law or regulation, or from a “prepackaged” bankruptcy in which creditors agree on terms prior to filing. But otherwise it ensures Cheney will get what Halliburton owes him should it go under.

    […]

    That still would leave the possibility that Cheney could profit from his Halliburton stock options if the company’s stock rises in value. However, Cheney and his wife Lynne have assigned any future profits from their stock options in Halliburton and several other companies to charity. And we’re not just taking the Cheney’s word for this — we asked for a copy of the legal agreement they signed, which we post here publicly for the first time.

    The “Gift Trust Agreement” the Cheney’s signed two days before he took office turns over power of attorney to a trust administrator to sell the options at some future time and to give the after-tax profits to three charities. The agreement specifies that 40% will go to the University of Wyoming (Cheney’s home state), 40% will go to George Washington University’s medical faculty to be used for tax-exempt charitable purposes, and 20% will go to Capital Partners for Education , a charity that provides financial aid for low-income students in Washington, DC to attend private and religious schools.

    The agreement states that it is “irrevocable and may not be terminated, waived or amended,” so the Cheney’s can’t take back their options later.

    The options owned by the Cheney’s have been valued at nearly $8 million, his attorney says. Such valuations are rough estimates only — the actual value will depend on what happens to stock prices in the future, which of course can’t be known beforehand. But it is clear that giving up rights to the future profits constitutes a significant financial sacrifice, and a sizeable donation to the chosen charities.

    […]

    t is important to note here that Cheney could legally have held onto his Halliburton stock options, and no law required him to buy insurance against the possibility that Halliburton wouldn’t pay the deferred compensation it owes him. Both the President and Vice President are specifically exempted from federal conflict-of-interest laws, for one thing, as are members of Congress and federal judges.

    And even federal officials who are covered by the law may legally own a financial interest in a company, provided they formally recuse themselves — stand aside — from making decisions that would have a “direct and predictable effect on that interest.” And Cheney says he’s done just that.

    Cheney says he takes no part in matters relating to Halliburton, and so far we’ve seen no credible allegation to the contrary. Time magazine reported in its June 7 edition that an e-mail from an unnamed Army Corps of Engineers official stated that a contract to be given to Halliburton in March 2003 “has been coordinated w VP’s [Vice President’s] office.” But it wasn’t clear who wrote that e-mail, whether the author had direct knowledge or was just repeating hearsay, or even what was meant by the word “coordinated,” which could mean no more than that somebody in Cheney’s office was being kept informed of contract talks.

    So, not only did Cheney take a massive salary cut when he left Halliburton to run for Veep but he has actually paid additional money out of pocket just to ensure that there is no possible appearance of impropriety in him getting paid the money he had already earned.

  9. Fatima says:

    Thank you Mr Joyner for the oh so informative post. To think any one could possibly think Mr. Cheney could be profiting from the war. I mean, he would never change his options after leaving office and I’m sure his charitable contributions are not tax deductible.
    No Halliburton got those contracts because they are the best and only company for the job at hand.
    For any one who believes all this, I’ve got some property in northern Florida I’d love to show you pamphlets on and oh yeah some investment options you’d be foolish not to take advantage of-

  10. James Joyner says:

    Fatima: You should actually read posts before commenting on them.

    No, he can’t change his options later. By law. By contract.

    Halliburton pretty much IS the only company that can do these jobs because of sheer size. That’s why they’ve been hired for them for the past several wars.

  11. McGehee says:

    Boy, some of these comments read like theories about additional gunmen not only on the grassy knoll, but atop all the buildings in Dealey Plaza, and even in the car with JFK.

    Then there’s Anderson, who seems to think Oswald’s being in the Depository with a rifle from which multiple shots were fired, was all just a coincidence and that the Dallas police were simply out to get the poor ex-Marine.

    One more time for the slow-on-the-uptake: It’s not a War to Get Osama bin Laden™. It’s a war against terrorists. Saddam Hussein was a supporter and sponsor of terrorism long before al Qaeda ever existed.

    As for the sinister machinations of Wolfowitz, et al, I hope Mr. Anderson will explain why it’s a crime against humanity for these people to push for implementing a Clinton-formulated policy?

  12. DC Loser says:

    Saddam Hussein was a supporter and sponsor of terrorism long before al Qaeda ever existed.

    Oh, you mean back when the days when he was OUR friend, and Rumsfeld personally went to Baghdad to congratulate him?

  13. Well – under the whistle blower act you cannot take reprisal against a whistle blower. You should do a little research on this particular subject. Halliburton isn’t the “only company in the world” that can do this work. She objected to the contract as she felt lacked provisions for acocuntability, duration and may have violated some provisions of federal law.

    Here’s some background on here.
    http://www.whistleblowers.org/html/greenhouse.htm
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2005/08/07/national/w052959D34.DTL&type=printable

    Please note this woman is highly qualified with three Master. Procurement is her specialty.

    Why do people feel the need to defend Halliburton? If they have been war profiteering, they need to be called to account.

  14. tristero says:

    Anderson:

    Yes, Cheney, Wolfowitz, et al determined that Saddam had to be removed and convinced Bush. But that simply changes the question to: Why did his advisers want to invade Iraq? Since they, too, knew there were no WMD, and Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, what made them so eager to spill American soldiers’ blood in Baghdad, Najaf, Tikrit, Fallujah, Mosul, and elsewhere?

    For the life of me, I just don’t get it. For Iraqi democracy? Please spare me. None of these clowns mentioned or wrote about “liberation of the oppressed” even once prior to the “rolling out of the new product” late in the fall of 2002, and it was mentioned then only as support for the major justifications – which they knew upfront were bogus! Saddam a supporter of terrorism? My goodness, then why didn’t we invade Northern Ireland? And to get back to Halliburton, it takes a level of cynicism that even Cheney doesn’t have to order the conquest of a country merely to shore up profits for your employers – excuse me, former employers. It just doesn’t make any sense. As for oil, I don’t think that was a good reason either. There are so many more intelligent ways to go about seizing the world’s oil supply. Going to war (which is inherently unstable and could have easily led to the total destruction of Iraqi oil fields) was easily the dumbest.

    So, again, why did Bush invade? Or rather, what on earth was he thinking?

  15. TJIT says:

    Anderson,

    You said

    “Why did his advisers want to invade Iraq? Since they, too, knew there were no WMD”

    This makes absolutely no sense. If they knew there were no WMD why would they even argue the point when Hussein had done enough to justify invasion without invoking WMD?

    The “they knew there were no WMD” argument is ludicrous and does not even pass the smell test.

  16. Mikey says:

    If people fail to recall, let me posit a reminder. 9/11 was a wake-up call. Massive terrorist attacks could occur here, and they came out of the dysfunctional mid-east/Islamic world. The big fear was a follow-up attack using Nuclear/Biological/Chemical weaponry provided to a terrorist group by a rogue state with an axe to grind against the United States. Afgahnistan harbored Al-Qaeda so the Taliban had to be taken out. After that what next? Sit around waiting for the next attack to react to that or get proactive and try to change the dynamic in the Islamic world, to make it not worth the candle for a nation to support terrorist groups, to supply them with money, bases, recruitment centers, weaponry, etc.

    Which nation to hit first? To provide that example that we wished to make? The US was still at war with Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a supporter of terorist groups. He had used NBC weaponry in the past. He was trying to develop more. The sanctions regime against him was breaking down and soon he’d be back in business. Iraq is geographically good for Air-Land Battle.

    9/11 changed things, the benefit of the doubt, the level of plausible deniability that Saddam could operate under changed – dramatically. He had now to prove to us he wasn’t a threat and would not become one. He couldn’t so he was to go. Think about it: do you trust the word of a Saddam Hussein? He’s only a sociopathic dictator with delusions of grandeur that would make Napoleon Bonaparte blush. Why can’t you just take his word?

    BTW – T-72 tank = Soviet client. Get your dictators properly lined up, please.

  17. Percy's PoP says:

    Oh, Mikey, Mikey, Mikey. You are soooooo gullible!

    Doesn’t the cognitive dissonance of the Bush Administration’s ever-changing reasons for invading Iraq bother you? Where were Saddam’s nuclear facilities? His mobile bioterrorism labs? His connections to Al Qaeda? His 30,000 chemical weapons? His connections to 9/11? His remote-control drones? The tons and tons of anthrax, botulism, nerve gas, etc. Bush enumerated with such detail as reasons for war? Lies, all lies.

    Don’t you remember the inspectors in Iraq who couldn’t find a damned thing, even with our supposed knowledge of what Saddam was doing? Bush invaded before they could finish proving he was a liar – he had to.

    Now our brave sons and daughters who volunteered to protect this country are being asked to die for the creation of another Islamic state.

    Meanwhile, ‘Dead-or-Alive’ Osama is happlily bombing London, secure in the knowledge that Bush’s debacle in Iraq is creating more terrorists than he could have dreamed of three years ago.

    OF COURSE, the Bushies have to go after anyone who blows the whistle on their lies and their thievery. It’s the nature of any criminal gang to protect themselves. They’ll kneecap this poor woman for trying to do her job as a warning to others, just like they did with Joe Wilson’s wife and Cindy Sheehan and everyone else who hasn’t stuck to the party line.

    Bush has the blood of Iraq on his hands, just as surely as bin Laden has the blood of 9/11 on his. Bush CHOSE to go to war in Iraq. Now we are paying the price with our dead, our wounded, our corrupted national reputation. What’s the career of one more woman in the face of all that?

    Nothing, for they have no shame.

  18. Mikey says:

    Percy’s PoP:
    Ah, yes, conspiracy theories. You know what, I suggest you look at that Senate resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. Read it carefully. NBC weaponry was only one of the items, the one the CIA said was there, the Brits said was there, the French, Germans, and Russians said was there. Saddam Hussein had to prove he didn’t have it. He couldn’t. He goes. Once he’s gone what then? Put another strong man in place? Like that works. Note this and note it well – “The Shah always falls.” The propensity for autocracies of whatever stripe is the source of the frustration that fuels terrorism from that part of the world. Removing a dictator to “encourager les autres” isn’t any good if you don’t put consensual governments in place.

    Yep, reasons shift, as you accomplish tasks.
    Take out Saddam Hussein and his potential for NBC weaponry.
    Put in place transitional government.
    Help them draft a constitution.
    Continue onward until they can stand on their own and provide an example that there is an answer that involves neither theocracies or autocracies.

    Sounds like a “strategery” that does not involve a massive conspiracy of hundreds to thousands of people to pull off.

    Better check your meds.

  19. Evil Progressive says:

    Sometimes whistle blowers are intellectually honest, moral, and ethical people, who rebel against a corrupted system… Not everybody in this country is as amoral, and as unethical, as the President, his Administration, and the right-wing radicals who support them.

    Some people actually believe that lying and cheating are anti-American and anti-religious. Nowhere in the Bible is it said that “Thou shall dissemble, thou shall break the law, thou shall be corrupt, thou shall lie to your people”. In fact, I seem to remember that Jesus actually chased the merchants from the Temple? Gee! He must have been an early Communist!

    Good night, members of the Satanic Bush cult. You are going straight to hell.

  20. Anderson says:

    TJIT, surely no one’s still reading this thread, but I’m just now back on the web after Katrina …

    The “they knew there were no WMD” argument is ludicrous and does not even pass the smell test.

    Actually, that was Tristero’s remark, not mine. I personally think that Cheney et al. deceived themselves into believing there were WMD’s, by gullibly buying into the Iraqi National Congress’s disinfo, by cherrypicking intel, by scaring CIA into changing its mind on the issue (via the implied threat to create new intel bureaucracies), etc.

    None of this would’ve happened, however, had they not begun with the conclusion “Saddam must be deposed” and gone looking for premises.

    Tristero was still puzzled why they went to war. It doesn’t make sense, I concede. Basically, Wolfie et al. appear to’ve seen it as an issue of U.S. prestige, plus a great way to reform the Mideast. Amazing stupidity, but there you have it.

  21. American Dreamer says:

    Americans, Not Republicans, Not Democrats, but Americans please wake-up!!
    First lets look at the Fight On Terror.
    The word Terror in it’s self states that it is: One that instills intense fear, a person who inspires fear or dread. How is the War in Iraq stopping terror. The terrorist work in small cells and uses the tactic of surprise to impose fear. While our soldiers die in Iraq how can this stop the cells of terrorist in America that are not faced with 130,000 troops and can launch a surprise attack on innocent Americans. Americans believe what they want to believe. Ignore the truth if you prefer. (while our troops die in Iraq while needed in New Orleans and the boarders of America). The truth will be the same regardless if you prefer to believe the President is protecting you from TERROR. The fact of the demotion of Greenhouse when opposing Halliburton smells of communism or denial of a right of opinion/methods of a COUP D’ETAT by the political party in control of Americans Life.
    As to people of New Orleans they were no better viewed than the people of Rwanda and Darfur. Expendable.

    If you can allow for chickens to die in Georgia, you can allow chickens to die in Texas.

    If you can allow people to die in Darfur & Rwanda you can allow people to Die in New Orleans.