Justice Dept. Weighs Probe Into Halliburton Contracting

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The Justice Department is deciding whether to pursue an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing over how a division of the Halliburton Co. was awarded a contract in Iraq.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., released a letter Friday from Defense Department Assistant Inspector General John R. Crane that said the department's Defense Criminal Investigative Services is investigating the allegations and "has shared its findings with the Department of Justice."

The letter also said the Justice Department is in the process of considering whether to pursue the matter.

Last year the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' top procurement official criticized Iraq-related work awarded to Halliburton by the Corps of Engineers. Bunnatine H. Greenhouse said her main objection was the issuance to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root of a no-bid, five-year contract to restore Iraqi oil fields shortly before the Iraq war began in 2003.

Greenhouse detailed her concerns when she testified in June before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, which Dorgan chairs. In August, she was removed from her position for what Corps of Engineers officials called poor job performance. Her lawyer, Michael D. Kohn, has said the demotion was in retaliation for her public criticism.

Dorgan said that the referral of the allegations for criminal investigation "add to the growing cloud of scandal that surrounds too much of the contracting effort regarding reconstruction in Iraq."

Halliburton spokeswoman Melissa Norcross said in a statement that the company continues to cooperate fully with the Justice Department's investigation of certain issues pertaining to its work in Iraq. "As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time," Norcross said.