Mr. Robert Kittel
Suspension and Debarment Official (SDO)
U.S. Army Legal Services Agency
901 North Stuart St.
Arlington, VA 22203-1873
Dear Mr. Kittel:
As per our conversation
today, I am writing to you with our grave concerns about violence against
women KBR employees in Iraq, and the company’s failure to adequately
protect their employees or hold the perpetrators of the violence accountable.
For this reason, we are calling on you to debar KBR from future contracts
The attached February
13, 2008 New York Times article talks about 38 female contract employees
coming forward to talk about the crimes committed against them. The best-known
case is that of former Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones. On
December 19, 2007, before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism
and Homeland Security and then again on February 12, 2008, before the
House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, Jones testified
to the that in July of 2005, she was raped while serving as a contract
employee for KBR/Halliburton inside the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, and
subsequently held captive by KBR security personnel.
Ms. Jones alleges
that she was drugged then raped by her co-workers. Shortly after the incident,
she saw an army doctor, who conducted an examination and investigation.
The rape kit from that investigation (a box including pictures, fingernail
scrapings, swabs, and the doctor’s notes) was subsequently handed
over to KBR security. Although the kit was ultimately released to State
Department investigators, when it was later located much of the evidence
(including photographs and the doctor’s notes) were missing.
After the examination,
KBR security also involuntarily detained Ms. Jones in a shipping cell
for nearly 24 hours -- without food or water. It wasn’t until she
managed to make a phone call to her father (after convincing one of the
guards to lend her his cell phone) that a chain of communication extending
from the office of Rep. John Poe to State Department officials caused
agents dispatched by the U.S. embassy to secure Ms. Jones’ release.
Apart from its role
in mishandling the evidence and mistreatment of the victim, the company’s
potential culpability in this case hinges on its willingness to foster
an abusive environment in which such crimes could occur to begin with.
Were Ms. Jones story the only incident of its type, the company could
claim it had no responsibility for the anomalous actions of its employees.
But the fact is that Ms. Jones is not the only employee who reports being
victimized by sexual crimes and discrimination while working for Halliburton/KBR
For example, Tracey
Barker, another former KBR employee and victim of a separate attack, testified
to the committee that she was also sexually assaulted (in her case by
a government employee), and that she was forced to constantly work in
a “sexually hostile, physically threatening and verbally abusive”
environment. “The manager of the camp kept making gestures of
how if I wanted my safety to exist on the camp, that I needed to sleep
with him and that’s all he kept saying to me,” Barker testified.
Since the victims
of violent crimes are often reluctant to come forward, it is likely that
these cases may be just two of many others. Indeed, the Houston Chronicle
has reported that since Ms. Jones made the courageous decision to take
her story public, 11 women have come forward alleging sexual harassment
while working for KBR in Iraq.
has not done enough to protect the safety of its own contract employees.
Had they taken any complaints seriously, rather than attempting to silence
the victims through physical intimidation and, later on, through binding
arbitration, it is possible that subsequent crimes like those committed
against Ms. Jones might have been prevented.
As you know, federal
acquisition regulations require that the federal government contract with
“responsible prospective contractors only.”We believe that
the pattern of sexual abuses experienced by KBR employees clearly indicates
that Halliburton/KBR cannot be considered “responsible” companies.
Indeed, as you are
surely aware, suspension is permitted if a contractor has a “history
of failure” or “unsatisfactory performance” in carrying
out contracts , which clearly has been the case with Halliburton/KBR.
It’s worth noting
that suspension is permitted “on the basis of adequate evidence,
pending the completion of investigation or legal proceedings, when it
has been determined that immediate action is necessary to protect the
Government’s interest.” In other words, you are not obliged
to wait until any civil or criminal charges related to this or related
matters are filed and/or the proceedings concluded before taking action
to protect U.S. taxpayers and civilians serving in Iraq.
recognized this to be the case when it suspended Enron from government
contracts in March of 2002 -- before there was any judicial resolution
of claims against either individual executives or the company. As the
GSA explained: “To qualify as a responsible contractor, a company
or individual must have a satisfactory record of integrity and business
ethics and must possess the necessary organization, accounting and operational
The nature of sex
abuse crimes and employment discrimination makes it difficult to bring
culpable individuals and their employers to justice. Nevertheless, we
think there is basis enough to make a case for suspension.
However, in truth
even before these incidents came to light, Halliburton/KBR’s record
of lawbreaking and contract-related abuses was significant enough to provide
ample justification for suspending Halliburton/KBR from any new contracts
or task orders. That record includes strong evidence of bribery , bid-rigging,
doing business with state sponsors of terrorism in violation of the U.S.
Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
regulations , as well as numerous contract-related violations of law
and FAR regulations in association with its Iraq contracts, including
multiple instances of alleged cases of overcharging (resulting in multiple
False Claims Act lawsuits), kickbacks and related fraud, bribery and other
abuses too numerous to recite here.
The Defense Contract
Audit Agency (DCAA) has issued numerous audits since 2003 showing Halliburton/KBR
repeatedly violated the FAR via “significant” and “systemic”
deficiencies in how it estimates and validates cost. Halliburton/KBR
so much as admitted that it is unfit to meet the standards of a “responsible”
contractor in an internal memo leaked to the W all Street Journal, wherein
the company described its cost controls for government contracts as "antiquated"
and "weak," and its procurement system "disorganized"
and marked by "weak internal controls." According to the
Journal, the memo was "a frank admission that [Halliburton/KBR's]
critics are voicing valid concerns about the possibility of overcharges
under the company's massive contract to supply U.S. troops."
Not only have U.S.
taxpayers been repeatedly gouged by the company’s reckless behavior,
but the lives of its own employees, as well as U.S. troops fighting on
the front line have also been put at risk.
The testimony of Ms.
Jamie Leigh Jones and other women who have courageously come forward to
tell their stories should ultimately convince anyone familiar with the
companies’ litany of violations and abuses who wasn’t convinced
already that Halliburton/KBR have fostered an out-of-control, unaccountable,
anything-goes culture of lawbreaking and abuse, to the point where even
the company’s own employees fear for their own safety.
The government holds
a trust for the American people. As the suspension and debarment officer
with primary authority in this case, we believe that it is incumbent upon
you to act to protect the integrity of the procurement process and the
interests of U.S. taxpayers. That integrity cannot be claimed so long
as the government conducts business with companies like Halliburton/KBR
who have exhibited a pattern of fraudulent and abusive behavior, while
fostering a work environment conducive to violence against its own employees.
We eagerly await talking
to you about this case and hope you will seriously consider suspending
and/or debaring Halliburton and KBR from any new contracts, subcontracts
or related task orders.
Medea Benjamin, Cofounder
CODEPINK: Women for Peace
- Secretary of Defense
- Kenneth J. Krieg,
Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics)
- Eric S. Edelman,
Under Secretary of Defense (Policy)
Pete Green, Secretary of the Army
- Angelines McCaffrey,
U.S. Army Legal Services Agency
Lurita Alexis Doan, Administrator, General Services Administration
- Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
- Rep. Henry Waxman
(D-CA), Chairman, House Committee on Government Reform;
- Rep. Ike Skelton
(D-MO), Chairman, House Committee on Armed Services
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
Rep. David Obey (D-WI), Chairman, House Appropriations Committee
James A. Williams, Commissioner, Federal Acquisition Service, GSA
David M. Walker, Comptroller General, Government Accountability Office
- Hon. Daniel K.
Akaka (D-HI), Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management,
the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia, Committee on Homeland
Security and Government Affairs, United States Senate
- The Hon. Robert
C. Byrd (D-WV), Chairman, Committee on Appropriations, United States
- The Honorable Joseph
I. Lieberman (I-CT), Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Government
Affairs, United States Senate
- The Honorable Susan
M. Collins (R-ME), Ranking Member, Committee on Homeland Security and
Government Affairs, United States Senate
- Speaker of the
House Nancy Pelosi
- Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid
 Testimony of Jamie
Leigh Jones, presented to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism
and Homeland Security, December 19, 2007. Also see “Victim: Gang-Rape
Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR,” ABC News, December 10, 2007,
posted at: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=3977702&page=3
 See Testimony
of Tracey Barker to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism
and Homeland Security, available at http://judiciary.house.gov/Media/PDFS/Barker071219.pdf
 David Ivanovich,
“KBR hearing centers on handling of rape kit,” Houston Chronicle,
December 20, 2007.
 FAR § 9.103(a).
 41 C.F.R. §
 FAR § 9.407-1(b)(1).
See also, 41 C.F.R. § 105-68.605. In particular, the regulations
provide for suspension when “[t]here exists an indictment for, or
other adequate evidence to suspect,” ofenses such as bribery, fraud
in obtaning or perform ing governm ent contracts, bid rgging that violates
federal or sate statutes or“[c]omm ission of any other offense indicating
a lack ofbusiness integrity or business honesty…” See 41 C.F.R.
§ 105-68.700(a) and (b).
 General Services
Administration press release, March 15, 2002. http://w3.gsa.gov/web/x/publicaffairs.nsf/0/576435646c09ff9185256b7d004800b8?OpenDocument
 Starting in 2003,
Halliburton (as part of a consortium) has admitted that its KBR subsidiary
“may” have bribed Nigerian government officials for the purpose
of winning a multi-billion dollar construction contract. Halliburton has
also admitted in another case that employees paid a $2.4 million bribe
to a government official of Nigeria for the purpose of receiving favorable
tax treatment. See Halliburton 2003 SEC Form 10-K.
 Halliburton 2004
SEC Form 10-K. The company admitted that former KBR chairman, Jack Stanley,
and other former employees “may” have criminally rigged bids
on foreign contracts and that the illegal behavior “may” have
been ongoing since the m id-1980s. See Halliburton SEC Form 10-Q, June
Security and Development Cooperation Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2349aa-9, §
505; International Emergency Economic Powers Act, 50 U .S.C. § 1501;
31 C.F.R. § 560; Executive Orders 12613, 12957, 12959, and 10359.
See Halliburton SEC Form S-4/A, July19, 2004.
 Numerous examples,
and detailed information can be found a) at the Project on Government
Oversight’s Contractor Misconduct Database, at http://www.contractormisconduct.org/index.cfm/1,73,221,html?ContractorID=29;
b) the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform http://oversight.house.gov/investigations.asp?Issue=Iraq+Reconstruction
c) testimony by numerous employee and government whistleblowers to the
Senate Democratic Policy Committee (http://democrats.senate.gov/dpc/),
and, d) various reports and chronological records of abuse found on the
non-partisan watchdog web site, Halliburton Watch (http://www.halliburtonwatch.org
 See “Status
of Brown & Root Services (BRS) Estimating System Internal Controls,”
Defense Contract Audit Agency, January 13, 2004 (Halliburton’s systemic
deficiencies “bring into question [Halliburton’s] ability to
consistently produce well-supported proposals that are acceptable as a
basis for negotiation of fair and reasonable prices.” Also, Memo
from DCAA to U.S. Army Field Support Command, Aug. 16, 2004 (DCAA “strongly
encourages” the Army to withhold 15% of Halliburton’s payments
because of “significant unsupported costs” and “numerous,
systemic issues” with Halliburton’s cost proposals).
 Halliburton Unit
Faults Its Cost Controls in Iraq,” W all Street Journal, Feb. 27,
 See, for example,
testimony of former KBR truck drivers to Senate Democratic Policy Committee,
as well as testimony by former employees that the company served contaminated
water to U.S. troops. (http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/news/contamination.html
 Company employees
are not the only ones whose lives the company has endangered. Reports
from company whistleblowers have already established that Halliburton/KBR
served contaminated water and spoiled food to U.S. soldiers serving in
Iraq. See http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/news/contamination.html for