Documents suggest Army lied about Cheney involvement in Halliburton contract

Avery Walker
Published: Thursday June 15, 2006

New documents obtained by a conservative watchdog group suggest that the United States Army Corp of Engineers may have publicly lied regarding the involvement of the Vice President's office in awarding a 2003 multi-billion dollar, no-bid contract to Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton, RAW STORY has learned.

RAW STORY has obtained a copy of the new documents, which were acquired by the group under a court order from a federal judge after the Corps refused to turn them over.

The Corps could not immediately be reached for comment.

Among the 100 pages of newly-obtained documents is an 2003 email in which Carol Sanders of the Army Corps writes, "Mr. Robert Andersen, Chief Counsel, USACE, participated in a 60 Minutes interview today in New York regarding the sole source award of the oil response contract to Kellogg, Brown and Root... [Andersen] was able to make many of the points we had planned."

Sanders subsequently provided sound bites from the interview, including, "There was no contact whatsoever (with the VP office)."

This directly contradicts another email uncovered by Judicial Watch in 2004.

That email, dated in March of 2003 was sent by an official of the Army Corps whose name was redacted. It stated, "We anticipate no issue (with the KBR deal) since the action has been coordinated w [sic] VP's office."

The Army had earlier refused to hand over the documents. U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina released them after the group sued, arguing that they were being improperly exempted from the Freedom of Information Act.

Noting Vice President Cheney's prior relationship to Halliburton, Judicial Watch had filed its original FOIA request to obtain documents pertaining to the lucrative no-bid contract.

The vice president's associations with Halliburton "raise concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest or favoritism," Judicial Watch argued, "particularly since the contract was awarded to KBR without a bidding process and because the contract was not announced to the public until after it was approved."

"The US district judicial court judge had to get personally involved and look at these documents in private before they could be released," a Judicial Watch employee told RAW STORY.

"And what the judge said when he saw them was, 'turn them over,'" the staffer added. "They were abusing the FOIA process -- embarrassment is not sufficient cause for exemption."

The Cheney contradiction is not the only cause for embarrassment in the documents.

One email, for example, includes a frank admission by an Army Corps of Engineer official: "I am copying you on this crap since I honestly believe the competitive procurement will never happen."