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Ex-Army official says he lost post in KBR flap

June 17, 2008|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The senior civilian official who managed the military's largest contract in Iraq says he was reassigned in 2004 when he refused to approve more than $1 billion in charges to KBR until the Houston company provided credible spending records, the New York Times reported.

"They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn't justify," retired Army official Charles M. Smith said in a story on the newspaper's website Monday night. "Ultimately, the money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn't going to do that."

Smith said most of the payments he questioned were later approved. Army officials denied that Smith was replaced because of the dispute and said blocking the payments could have eroded services to troops.

"We could not let operational support suffer," Jeffrey P. Parsons, executive director of the Army Contracting Command, told the Times.

The KBR contract with the Pentagon has cost more than $20 billion so far, the newspaper said.

KBR, formerly known as Kellogg, Brown & Root, was a subsidiary of Halliburton, where Vice President Dick Cheney previously served as chief executive.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) told the paper: "KBR has repeatedly gouged the taxpayer, and the Bush administration has looked the other way every time."

Heather Browne, KBR spokeswoman, said in a statement that the company had not behaved improperly.

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