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Bye, bye, Bunnatine.
August 30, 2005 8:28 AM   Subscribe

US Army auditor who attacked Halliburton deal is fired. Bunnatine Greenhouse, senior Army Contracting Specialist and the highest-ranking civilian at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), who blew the whistle on Halibuton after Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown & Root got $12 billion worth of exclusive contracts for work in Iraq has been fired - ostensibly for poor performance. Ms Greenhouse testified in front of Congress (pdf). She asked many questions: Why is Halliburton -- a giant Texas firm that holds more than 50 percent of all rebuilding efforts in Iraq -- getting billions in contracts without competitive bidding? Do the durations of those contracts make sense? Have there been violations of federal laws regulating how the government can spend its money? She said that the decision to award KBR a $75 million extension for troop support in the Balkans was "the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed" in 20 years as a government contract supervisor. Last October, she was summoned to the office of her boss. Major Gen. Robert Griffin, the Corps' deputy commander, was demoting her, he told her, taking away her Senior Executive Service status and sending her to midlevel management. She was offered early retirement, but refused. Now she's been fired.
posted by three blind mice (52 comments total)

 
Lesson: Don't mess with the money. Capitalism at its best.
posted by mygoditsbob at 8:38 AM on August 30, 2005


The really sad thing is that this won't get the extreme media coverage it deserves because it's no surprise at all anymore.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:38 AM on August 30, 2005


Man, I can remember how crooked I thought Whitewater was.

Why can't the rest of the Republicans? Where are your principles, guys?!
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:42 AM on August 30, 2005


Productive work requires the support of your team mates. Without that support, they can make your life a miserable, traffic jammed, morass hell. Then you lose because due to your unproductivity. I think, I'm not positive, that there's a good measure of "workers" out there whose jobs is just to jawbone and bellyache until they put other people out of work. Their productivity is measured in terms of (employees fired * avg salary).
posted by nervousfritz at 8:43 AM on August 30, 2005


This is my surprised face.
posted by wakko at 8:44 AM on August 30, 2005


nervousfritz writes "I think, I'm not positive, that there's a good measure of 'workers' out there whose jobs is just to jawbone and bellyache until they put other people out of work. Their productivity is measured in terms of (employees fired * avg salary)."

They're called Operators. The others are called Things.
posted by OmieWise at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2005


While I don't believe KBR/Halliburton are as innately evil as some people do, this is really, really shameless.

Blegh. Screw peak oil, PEAK DOOM.
posted by fet at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2005


There is a federal whistleblower statute that prevents the firing of whistleblowers in retaliation for their whistleblowing. If she really believes she was fired for that, and not for some other valid reason, she should file suit under that statute.
posted by dios at 8:49 AM on August 30, 2005


When does the round-the-clock coverage on CNN start? I can't wait.
posted by chunking express at 8:52 AM on August 30, 2005


When does the round-the-clock coverage on CNN start? I can't wait.

About 5 minutes before another pretty white girl is discovered missing.
posted by mkultra at 9:02 AM on August 30, 2005


If she really believes she was fired for that, and not for some other valid reason, she should file suit under that statute.

Well, dios, the article says she was fired for poor performance. Perhaps she missed too many days at work because she was busy testifying in front of Congress, or being interviewed by the FBI? Why should the burden be on her - a private citizen - to file suit against the government when this so obviously smells like massive corruption at the highest levels of government?
posted by three blind mice at 9:07 AM on August 30, 2005


I just hope that FoxNews reads on the air this traitor's home address, allowing a well-ordered militia of pitchfork-wielding patriotic citizens to deliver adequate punishment
posted by matteo at 9:11 AM on August 30, 2005


Why should the burden be on her - a private citizen - to file suit against the government when this so obviously smells like massive corruption at the highest levels of government?
posted by three blind mice at 9:07 AM PST on August 30


Because, tbm, the United States has a legal system which requires plaintiff's to petition for and prove a legal cause of action before they can recieve a remedy.

If she was fired because of that, she should sue. The burden is on her, the person with the complaint. We don't have some organization that sits around looking for injustices in this world that dispenses justice for disinterested plaintiffs.
posted by dios at 9:12 AM on August 30, 2005


We don't have some organization that sits around looking for injustices in this world that dispenses justice for disinterested plaintiffs.

Actually, there is. It's called the Justice Department.
posted by three blind mice at 9:18 AM on August 30, 2005


We don't have some organization that sits around looking for injustices in this world that dispenses justice for disinterested plaintiffs.

Unless, of course, the disinterested plaintiffs are unborn. Or comatose. Or Iraqi. Or...

I agree that we shouldn't have some organization that sits around looking for injustices in this world and dispenses justice for disinterested plaintiffs. Unfortunately, it appears we do have just such an organization.
posted by scottreynen at 9:18 AM on August 30, 2005


Dios - What's your point? She is suing, of course. The fact that she has legal redress doesn't at all change the sliminess factor. You're a conservative and/or a Republican--you, more than anyone, should be outraged by this corruption in your party.

I would also like to add that Bunnatine is a really cool name and that she's my new hero.
posted by footnote at 10:23 AM on August 30, 2005


There is a federal whistleblower statute that prevents the firing of whistleblowers in retaliation for their whistleblowing. If she really believes she was fired for that, and not for some other valid reason, she should file suit under that statute.


Bunny is already working with a whistleblower's group.

I'm astonished at what appears to be one of the most politically unsavvy things the Corps has ever done. "Pork" is the Corps' middle name, and keeping folks on the Hill happy is the game. The Corps used to be the most politically astute agency in Washington, with patrons on both sides of the aisle, working the Hill like the best K Street lobbying firms, and being rewarded amply for it.

So glad I left five years ago.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:26 AM on August 30, 2005


We don't have some organization that sits around looking for injustices in this world that dispenses justice for disinterested plaintiffs.

Uh, yeah we do. I think it's called the ACLU.
posted by Jon-o at 10:41 AM on August 30, 2005


Bunnatine for Senate.
posted by effugas at 10:41 AM on August 30, 2005


ereshkigal45, I think it is more like "Pork" is the Corps' middle name, and keeping folks on the Hill Haliburton happy is the game. As long as Haliburton is happy the (stinking, corrupt, disgrace to America) Republicans in Congress are happy.
posted by three blind mice at 10:44 AM on August 30, 2005


We don't have some organization that sits around looking for injustices in this world that dispenses justice for disinterested plaintiffs.

Ahem.
posted by odinsdream at 10:54 AM on August 30, 2005


I think you all are misconstruing what I was saying (probably out of a desire to show me up). What I said was correct: we don't have an organization that dispenses civil justice. So please keep your justice department, federal authorities comments to yourselves. That is criminal law. Of course we dispense criminal law. And the ACLU suggestion shows a misunderstanding: the ACLU doesn't dispense justice, they help people who are seeking it.

My point was, correct, and innocent: its her burden if she has a civil complaint to file one. Then she will have to prove she was fired for blowing a whistle, and she will recieve her damages if she can prove it. She has protection if that is what she was fired for. The United States Code protects her. Let the justice system work before you get all up in arms.
posted by dios at 10:59 AM on August 30, 2005


And the real issue, that of Halliburton getting billions of dollars in no-bid contracts is ignored by Big Media for another day in a long series of days in which Halliburton's dealings are ignored by Big Media.

Ol' Dick's "pension fund" is probably just about full with loot from all his hard work securing these no-bid contracts.

Whitewater? Whitewater was nothing compared to this. Same thing for the blowjob compared to Iraq. Methinks the GOP has a problem with understanding the scope and scale of corruption and misdeeds.
posted by fenriq at 11:00 AM on August 30, 2005


Sadly, I dont think the level of corruptuion WRT Iraq and all the contracts will be discovered until we get a Democrat in the WH, if at all. Bush and other republicans will do nothing to shame their own party at this level (ie billions of tax dollars abused by large corporations that were large donors to the election campaign), nor will they, by inaction, allow it to be shamed. If nothing else, firing her puts off the bad press until after the 2006 midterm elections. And that is good enough for now, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
posted by SirOmega at 11:09 AM on August 30, 2005


Once again, people are jumping down dios' throat when he is making a rational point with respect to how the law works.

Look at yourselves. Are you attacking dios because you disagree with the contents of his argument in this thread, or because you don't like his political POV?
posted by Vidiot at 11:12 AM on August 30, 2005


False dichotomy.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:14 AM on August 30, 2005


Vidiot - Dios is not making a "rational point with respect to how the law works." He's trying to reframe and defuse the issue, as if Bunnatine just slipped and fell in a department store and now has to wait for her settlement to come through. The scale of the events here are much, much larger than mere civil procedure.

And anyway, he is also sort of wrong about automatic civil justice -- schemes like workers comp and the vaccine injury act do operate automatically.
posted by footnote at 11:29 AM on August 30, 2005


ereshkigal45, I think it is more like "Pork" is the Corps' middle name, and keeping folks on the Hill Haliburton happy is the game. As long as Haliburton is happy the (stinking, corrupt, disgrace to America) Republicans in Congress are happy.


Perhaps I wasn't clear. I was trying to make the point that for decades the Corps has been a pet agency to both parties, and used to be pretty astute about walking that fine line between humoring both Congress and the administration (whichever administration it might be). However, with this latest move, they seem to be spitting in the face of Dems on the Hill in order to give this administration what it wants.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:30 AM on August 30, 2005


Look at yourselves. Are you attacking dios because you disagree with the contents of his argument in this thread, or because you don't like his political POV?

Vidiot, if dios doesn't want to see anything criminal in this that is his point of view. Violating federal law seems to me to be prima facie a matter of criminal law. At the very least, the Department of Justice should investigate to see if no criminal statutes were violated... oh, but then the person who does that might loose their job.
posted by three blind mice at 11:32 AM on August 30, 2005


they seem to be spitting in the face of Dems

Impossible. That would require the Democrats to actually look up. For the last decade the Democrats have been on their hands and knees searching for that lost contact lens known as an clue. It's been so long since they've been in the game they are irrelevant to its outcome.
posted by three blind mice at 11:37 AM on August 30, 2005


And anyway, he is also sort of wrong about automatic civil justice -- schemes like workers comp and the vaccine injury act do operate automatically.
posted by footnote at 11:29 AM PST on August 30


I don't know anything about the Vaccine Injury Act, but I do know that workers compensation is not automatic. They Workers Comp commission isn't out there monitoring every employee and sending checks to them. People still have to make a filing (petition) to trigger coverage. Why are people so goddamn invested in trying to nitpick things I type?

As to the rest of your point, I'm ignoring it because I too goddamned tired of such petty crap.
posted by dios at 11:38 AM on August 30, 2005


The way the post is written is a little deceptive. Your last three sentences seem to say that first they threatened to demote her, then they offered her retirement, and now they've fired her completely.

What actually happened was that they went through with the demotion that they threatened her with, she wasn't completely fired.

There was a slightly more informative article (reg required) on this in yesterday's NY Times. It also brings up the point that they did this even though there was an inspector general's investigation pending on the matter.

Fired or not, this is still pretty slimy.
posted by NormieP at 11:38 AM on August 30, 2005


By the way, "goddamn" is the word of the day. TIA.
posted by dios at 11:39 AM on August 30, 2005


"Are you attacking dios because you disagree with the contents of his argument in this thread, or..."

Most likely reflex. It's hard to separate the ideas from the package it comes in. Tone as well. Not that folks shouldn't.
dios is correct, she has a recourse.


I don't see the political angle here. I know there is one. I don't understand how corrpution is political. There is right and wrong and the law.
There are some excellent reasons to break the law to do what is right.
Political expediancy isn't one of them.
And I just don't get how someone could go along with it, putting poor performance evals on her record, just for...what?
They must know they are breaking the law.
They certainly can't think they're doing the right thing.
What kind of world do they then think this is going to make? What's the goal?
Everyone likes money, but I'd rather have my soul intact. But conscience aside, do they think everyone works this way? Do they think some of us are suckers for playing it straight?
/'Ha ha, look at those idiots trying to keep us all from drowning!'

Corruption is corruption. Just because your team is doing it doesn't make it right.

Hopefully she gets enough money in punative damages to sink the entire company and drown it's subsidiaries. Doubtful though. Even Heracles needed back up to take out a Hydra.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:03 PM on August 30, 2005


Dios - My point was that those are no-fault instruments of justice, not that they work magically.

Here's a question for you: taking the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, what do you think about this case? What would it mean to you as a Republican if she really was fired unlawfully? How can you, presumably a fiscal conservative, not be outraged? These aren't petty questions but rather an honest attempt to understand you.
posted by footnote at 12:03 PM on August 30, 2005


Just working on my masters degree in Obvious.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:05 PM on August 30, 2005


Here's a question for you: taking the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, what do you think about this case?

That it is too early to tell. We don't have all of the info. Innocent until proven guilty, etc. My bet is that she was fired, or recieved adverse employment action (which also triggers protection under 10 USC 1034(b)) because of blowing the whistle. So my bet is that she should get damages for the violation of employment law.

What would it mean to you as a Republican if she really was fired unlawfully?

I'm a Republican? I didn't know that, thanks for telling me. Guess I have been wrong all these years. Maybe I should have actually voted that way since you know that I am one. Oops. Guess I was lying to everyone when I told them in the last election "I could never vote for a party or candidate who supports tort reform." Am I to the right of Metafilter? Yes. But so was Clinton. Was he a Republican?

How can you, presumably a fiscal conservative, not be outraged?

I am a fiscal conservative. I guess. If that means "free market" believer and believe in a small government.... but what are you suggesting I should be outraged over? I'll answer you directly, I just don't know if you are referring to her firing or something else.

These aren't petty questions but rather an honest attempt to understand you.
posted by footnote at 12:03 PM PST on August 30


If you really want to know specific things about me, feel free to email me. If you are being honest, then don't start off by casting aspersions at me.
posted by dios at 12:22 PM on August 30, 2005


What would it mean to you as a Republican if she really was fired unlawfully?

Speaking as one of the apparently few Republican MeFites, I would bloody well FREAK. As should any Republican worth of the affiliation.

Given the information thus far I'm inclined to side with Bunny. As a result, I'm beginning to fume. Fume, I say!
posted by caporal at 12:23 PM on August 30, 2005


Hmmm. That UN food for oil thing just keeps coming up in connection with Halliburton.

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/print.html?path=HL0410/S00132.htm



http://archive.democrats.com/preview.cfm?term=Halliburton



http://www.agonist.org/story/2004/10/24/161141/35


That could 'splain a lot. Motivation-wise. Also explains the politicization of it. (At the very least - the fact the opposition party is into it)

Haliburton (et.al) tend to get no-bid contracts because they are the only outfits that can do the job.

On the other hand, not sawing the job into parcels for subcontractors so Haliburton can use it’s subsidiaries is sort of a self-fufilling prophecy there.

Part of the problem is the way the system is structured. Hell, Ike was hollering about the coziness of the MI complex since the end of WWII.
It’s like the phone company was to the feds back in the 60s. Pretty much a government sponsored corportation. For you ‘free trade’ folks, that is what should really piss you off.
Of course if one is more politically bent, perhaps we need our pet corporations in there losening things up. We can’t simply trust these huge projects to someone with their own ideas.

Of course, again, that can be fixed by sawing jobs into bite size chunks....

Again (as per my post above) why would someone just roll over and screw a person who is not only apparently honest, but for all intents and purposes pretty much just like yourself in order to make someone else some long green?

Perhaps one thinks you get it on the back end, but isn’t it obvious when you’re poisoning the well?

How does such a dumbass become a Major General?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:55 PM on August 30, 2005


/Whoa, grammar nightmare there.
(lousy work computer makin' me type 1/2 on screen 1/2 on document...grrrr)
*shakes fist*
posted by Smedleyman at 12:56 PM on August 30, 2005


I'm a Republican and a fiscal conservative, and if the lady's allegations are proved true, I'll be well and truly pissed.

Another commenter asked why this is an issue of fiscal conservatism? Because it looks as if a large amount of taxpayers' money has been wasted in Iraq. That means, at the least, a bigger deficit, less work done there than otherwise would have been done, and/or more danger to our troops.

Someone else asked why, after a long history of courting both parties, the Corps of Engineers would do something like this. Pure speculation -- I'm guessing it has to do with the GOP's ongoing effort, aided by the Democrats, to render the Democrats irrelevant. Google "K Street Project" to learn more.
posted by lexalexander at 1:19 PM on August 30, 2005


If she really believes she was fired for that, and not for some other valid reason, she should file suit under that statute.

dios -- and I am not just taking a swipe at you here -- I believe the significance of this case is not that one lady lost her job, or your remedy might be appropriate. The significance is that it gives every appearance of being yet another instance of the government and the public cofffers being entirely at the disposal of Halliburton. Her bringing suit wouldn't begin to address that. High-level corruption -- if that is what this is -- requires something like... oh, I don't know... the kind of special investigation that Whitewater received?
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:25 PM on August 30, 2005


Someone else asked why, after a long history of courting both parties, the Corps of Engineers would do something like this.

I didn't ask why it was happening, I expressed surprise that it was happening. I worked at Corps Headquarters for ten years.

I'm familiar with the K Street project.

Let me reiterate my point. I'm shocked that an agency which was once the most politically astute agency in the federal government has allowed itself to be outmaneuvered and sucked into partisan politics.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 1:32 PM on August 30, 2005


Why are people so goddamn invested in trying to nitpick things I type?

Because you insist on deliberately obfuscating the point of the original post with tangents. There are seven links up there. Your blanket response to all of them was essentially a moot point about procedure.

If there had been reports of Haliburtun lining up their employees and shooting them in the head, complete with pictures and video taken from the ground and from circling helicopters and televised nationally, making the comment, "Well, let's just wait and see what happens after the trial" is a little bit disengenuous and a whole lot of stupid.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:38 PM on August 30, 2005


good post
posted by mert at 5:21 PM on August 30, 2005


haha I love how the first response makes capitalism out to be some sort of child-eating bogeyman.
posted by nightchrome at 5:26 PM on August 30, 2005


"Well, let's just wait and see what happens after the trial" is a little bit disengenuous and a whole lot of stupid.

Hear hear!
posted by qwip at 6:21 PM on August 30, 2005


Obligatory Halliburton post for this hour.
posted by cpchester at 7:11 PM on August 30, 2005


haha I love how the first response makes capitalism out to be some sort of child-eating bogeyman.

Capitalism isn't bad. Democracy and the Republic aren't bad. However, the extreme influence that capitalism (in the form of huge multinational corporations) has on the current U.S. government IS a child-eating bogeyman.
posted by ensign_ricky at 9:42 PM on August 30, 2005


I'm having flashbacks to Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War, which I just finished last week.

This is exactly what almost happened to Boyd a half dozen times during his career; he'd come this close to getting sacked, and avoid it by the skin of his teeth for doing just what Greenhouse did: telling the truth. It's a great read if you're starting to feel like there's no hope for true reform within our government or armed forces.
posted by joshuaconner at 10:43 PM on August 30, 2005


ensign_ricky, I will totally agree with you that the influence play between big government and big business is way evil. That has nothing to do with capitalism though.
posted by nightchrome at 10:50 PM on August 30, 2005


dios: ... Then she will have to prove she was fired for blowing a whistle, and she will recieve her damages if she can prove it.

Fat chance of either.

Here's how this sort of thing usually works in the corporate world -- I have good reason to believe that the process is similar in gov't:

Someone -- let's call 'em X -- (usually a finance person, because finance departmens are full of people with a strong belief in order) calls attention to problem[s] that people farther up the food chain don't want to know about. S/he gets a pat on the back, a "let me handle that," and the higher-ups cross their fingers, mop their brows and say "glad s/he won't be bothering us anymore."

X doesn't just let it go, though. S/he either follows up, or continues to dig, and finds more. S/he brings it to the attention of the higher-ups. They get irritated, and communicate to X that s/he needs to narrow his/her focus and not find inconvenient things.

X has a case of conscience, and narcs out the company or goes over her superiors' heads.

X, at this point, is screwed. Superiors, even if they're glad to find out, won't trust X ever again to put the company's interest first, and so they'll turn the other way as the process unfolds to get rid of her -- or they might actually order it.

Here's how that might work:

They might start going over X's performance with a fine-toothed comb. Things that are tolerated in others will become subject to remediation in X's case. Maybe s/he comes in a little late several days a week because s/he has to put kids on the bus. That was OK at some point; now, suddenly, it's not. Maybe s/he puts the wrong coversheet on her TPS reports. Whatever. X goes on probation, and so gets even closer scrutiny. Eventually, s/he might get demoted, or her group gets re-organized so that she is now in a position to which she's not very well suited. (American corps will reorganize departments or even divisions at the drop of a hat.)

Meanwhile, X's performance is still under unusually close scrutiny. S/he might be subject to remediation, or she might not. But eventually, they either drive him/her out or s/he gets fired.

One way or another, they get her, and it's all down to "performance", with no documentated traceability to the whistleblowing. This is how this works. I've seen it personally. I've read many accounts of it. I've known of it happening to friends, and had friends give me their direct-observer accounts of it happening.

Bottom line: If a large employer wants to screw you for whistleblowing, they will, and it will be very hard for you to do a damn thing about it.

So, dios, given the tendency that many (if not most) people have to accept the outcome of court cases as proof of "guilt" or "innocence", what hope do you think that leaves for whistleblowers?
posted by lodurr at 6:15 AM on August 31, 2005


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