WASHINGTON--Former presidential contender Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is back on the Senate beat. She is calling Tuesday--via a press release, she has not surfaced for a week--for a probe of government contracts with a Halliburton subsidiary with over $1 billion in questionable charges for work in Iraq.
CLINTON CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS WITH KBR
New Report of Over $1 Billion in Questionable Charges
WASHINGTON, DC—Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton today called for a Senate investigation into the Pentagon’s contracts with KBR, the former Halliburton subsidiary and recipient of the largest government contract in Iraq. It was reported today that Charles M. Smith, the Army official formerly responsible for managing the Pentagon’s contract with KBR, was removed for refusing to pay over $1 billion in questionable charges to the contactor. In a letter to Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Clinton called for a committee hearing to investigate the contracts awarded to KBR in the Iraq War.
“This is the latest in a series of staggering reports that the Administration has turned a blind eye while private contractors run amok in Iraq. The administration owes the American people an explanation as to why it has allowed KBR and other private contractors to both compromise our mission in Iraq and squander billions of dollars in the process. Putting an end to the fraud, waste, and abuse of government contracts in Iraq is long overdue,” said Senator Clinton.
Last month Senator Clinton voiced concern over a report that KBR performed electrical work in Iraq that may have resulted in the electrocution of at least a dozen military personnel and severe shocking many others.
The following is the text of Senator Clinton’s letter to Chairman Levin:
The Honorable Carl Levin
Committee on Armed Services
United States Senate
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Chairman Levin:
As you know, the waste, fraud, and abuse by private contractors in Iraq continues to reach new and unacceptable heights. Under the neglectful stewardship of the Bush Administration, several private contractors have been allowed to run amok, squandering billions of dollars and even compromising our mission in Iraq in the process. You have demonstrated tremendous leadership in holding those who bear ultimate responsibility for this waste, fraud, and abuse accountable, and I am certain the Committee under your leadership will continue to be vigilant in its oversight.
To that end, I respectfully request that you convene a hearing to investigate the Iraq War contracts awarded to private contractor KBR. My request comes on the heels of a report today that Charles Smith, the Pentagon official who was responsible for the management of the largest contract in Iraq, claimed that he was removed from his position when he refused to authorize $1 billion in questionable charges to KBR. After his removal, his successors approved the charges that Smith had previously refused. The report goes on to state that while Pentagon officials denied Mr. Smith’s account, they nevertheless reversed his previous denial because they claimed blocking payment to KBR would have an adverse impact on the services provided to our troops in the field.
Almost from the inception of the Iraq War, the Bush Administration has turned a blind eye to what appears to be improper behavior on the part of KBR. Just recently it was reported that KBR performed electrical work that may have resulted in the electrocution of at least a dozen U.S. military personnel and led to the severe shocking of several others. Disturbingly, reports state that warnings about the hazards associated with KBR’s electrical work were repeatedly ignored. According to the report, KBR employees warned company managers and Department of Defense (DOD) officials that unqualified workers were being asked to perform this work.
KBR must be held to account for these and other failures, and it is incumbent on the part of the Administration to justify why these practices have been allowed to continue and what actions it has taken to address these mounting concerns.
Thank you again for your leadership, and I look forward to working with you on this critical endeavor.
Hillary Rodham Clinton