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Notes on Cashing In After Katrina

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WASHINGTON, D.C.-While George Bush promises to take
“responsibility” for the disastrous government response to Hurricae Katrina, his
friends and former colleagues are racing to cash in on
the storm.

First out of the gate was Cheney’s old firm Halliburton.

The Navy hired it to restore electric power, repair
roofs, and remove debris at three naval facilities in Mississippi. The company will also do damage
assessments at other naval installations in New
Orleans. Joe Allbaugh, former head of FEMA, is registered to lobby for Halliburton’s Brown Root subsidiary, and he hurried down to New Orleans to get things
rolling. (More on how to cash in here.

Halliburton made the news recently when Bunnatine Greenhouse, a civilian
manager at the Pentagon who oversaw the Corps of
Engineers contracts, lambasted a multibillion contract
between the Corps and Halliburton as an example of
”the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have
witnessed.” She was demoted for “poor
performance.”

The Project on Government Oversight, a Washington
nonprofit, reports the government is opening up the
contracting spigots by authorizing rules that permit
government procurement officials to forget bidding
procedures and authorize deals on their own say-so of
up to $250,000. Normally they can only go as high as
$2,500. In the past, federal funds released under such discretion have gone
for such things as escort services and breast implants.

And on Thursday, Bush signed an executive order
permitting federal contractors working on hurricane
related deals to pay wages at below the prevailing
rate due to the “national emergency.”


Additional reporting: Isabel Huacuja

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