CBS News, By Joel Roberts
A senior Army contracting officer who had criticized a contract given to Halliburton had been subjected to a racist and sexist work environment, her former supervisor, a retired general, said in an affidavit.
The affidavit by retired Lt. Gen. Joe N. Ballard demonstrated the integrity of Bunnatine Greenhouse, said her attorney, Michael Kohn. Greenhouse, chief contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers, has charged that the Army showed favoritism to Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, and that she was frozen out of decisions affecting it.
That work environment “just made it that much more difficult for Ms. Greenhouse to take the action she took. She was under immense pressure to cave in,” Kohn said Sunday.
In the affidavit, Ballard said “Ms. Greenhouse’s race (African-American) and gender ruffled a lot of feathers in the Corps command and also contributed to the disparate and highly critical treatment she has received.”
The affidavit was filed last year as part of disciplinary proceedings against Greenhouse in which she was exonerated, Kohn said. A copy was obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.
An Army spokesman said the Pentagon’s inspector general’s office was investigating the Halliburton contracting issue and referred a call seeking comment Sunday to the Defense Department. Spokesman Jim Turner said he wasn’t aware of the affidavit and if the inspector general is investigating, the department wouldn’t have a comment.
Time magazine, reporting on the affidavit in this week’s issue, quoted a Corps spokesman as saying “Army policy is to treat all employees fairly and with dignity and respect.”
The FBI is investigating Halliburton’s no-bid work and has asked Greenhouse’s lawyers for an interview with her.
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has repeatedly said that the Pentagon showed favoritism to Halliburton, wasting reconstruction funds. The Bush administration has rejected the charges.
At a rally in Tampa Sunday night, the Democrat drew a parallel with Halloween.
“In the Bush-Cheney administration, that means tricks for the American people, and treats for Halliburton, right?” Kerry said, promising an end to favoritism for Halliburton. “The mask is coming off, the treats are over, and the tricks will end.”
In his affidavit, Ballard said Greenhouse strictly followed contracting regulations and maintained high ethical standards in her work, but was subjected to hostility by Corps officials.
“I did not believe that females and minorities are always treated fairly at the corps because of long-standing ‘good ole boy’ mentality by a number of members of the command,” he said.
He said at times women and minorities were disciplined for offenses that weren’t as serious as those committed by white men.
Kohn said he was unaware of any actions taken by the Corps in response to Ballard’s claims of sexism and racism.