Sun, Dec 14, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Contractor served troops dirty food in dirty kitchens

AFP , WASHINGTON

The Pentagon repeatedly warned contractor Halliburton-KBR that the food it served to US troops in Iraq was "dirty," as were as the kitchens it was served in, NBC News reported on Friday.

Halliburton-Kellogg Brown and Root's promises to improve "have not been followed through," according to a Pentagon report that warned "serious repercussions may result" if the contractor did not clean up.

The Pentagon reported finding "blood all over the floor," "dirty pans," "dirty grills," "dirty salad bars" and "rotting meats ... and vegetables" in four of the military messes the company operates in Iraq, NBC said, citing Pentagon documents.

The report came as President George W. Bush fended off Pentagon reports that Halliburton-KBR overcharged US$61 million for gasoline it sold the military in Iraq. Dick Cheney ran Halliburton for five years until becoming vice president.

The company feeds 110,000 US and coalition troops daily at a cost of US$28 per troop per day, NBC said.

The Pentagon found unclean conditions at four locations in Iraq, including one in Baghdad and two in Tikrit. Even the mess hall where Bush served troops their Thanksgiving dinner was dirty in August, September and October, according to NBC.

This adds up to "a company that arrogantly is overcharging when they can get away with it and not providing the quality of service that they agreed to do," Representative Henry Waxman, Democrat of California, told NBC.

Halliburton-Kellogg Brown and Root told NBC that "hostile conditions" pose special challenges as they served the 21 million meals so far to the troops at 45 sites in Iraq.

"We have taken quick action to improve," the company said.

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