I usually think of Army officials as the type of people that run a tight ship -- the kind with little tolerance for law-breaking, bending the rules, and failing to do the best for your country. "Be all you can be," right?
Combine that aura of Pentagon culture with the law-and-order mantra of conservative politicians, and you'd think today's Army would be a whip-cracking hell for those who dare to abuse the public trust through fraud and abuse.
Unless, apparently, you happen to be a politically-connected corporation caught over-charging tax-payers to the tune of $250 million, as the New York Times reports today:
The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.41 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq, even though the Pentagon's own auditors had identified more than $250 million in charges as potentially excessive or unjustified.
The Army had what they thought was a perfectly reasonable explanation for their action:
Under the type of contract awarded to the company, "the contractor is not required to perform perfectly to be entitled to reimbursement," said Rhonda James, a spokeswoman for the southwestern division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, based in Dallas, where the contract is administered.
How far from "perfectly" can one be? As Rep. Henry Waxman, ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, said in a statement:
"Halliburton gouged the taxpayer, government auditors caught the company red-handed, yet the Pentagon ignored the auditors and paid Halliburton hundreds of millions of dollars and a huge bonus."
So much for law and order.