Army Overseer Ousted After Rejecting Bogus Iraq Bills

Says he was replaced after vowing not to pay dubious bills
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2008 7:54 AM CDT
U.S. soldiers of Apache troop, 1-33 Cavarly, 3rd Brigade combat team, 101st Airborne Division buy sandwiches at a market stall in Al Sheet village, south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008.    (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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(Newser) – Did a top Army official lose his job for trying to save the Army money? Charles Smith was ousted from his job after refusing to pay then-Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $1 billion in charges deemed bogus by Army auditors. “They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn’t justify,” Smith tells the New York Times. “The money that was going to KBR was money being taken away from the troops, and I wasn’t going to do that.” Smith’s successor coughed up the money.

The Army says it had to pay to keep food and other necessities flowing to the troops. But lawmakers have fiercely criticized KBR, which has reaped more than $20 billion in Iraq, accusing it of capitalizing on Halliburton's ties with the Bush administration. Smith’s successor took the unusual step of hiring an outside agency to review the bills. “They ignored DCAA’s auditors,” he tells the Times. “In the end, KBR got what it wanted.” (Read more Iraq contractors stories.)