by Public Citizen to Appeal Freedom of Information Act Request –
WASHINGTON, DC — Public Citizen has appealed the US Army’s denial of its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for written justifications and approvals of decisions that limited competitive bids for reconstruction contracts in post-war Iraq. In denying Public Citizen’s March 25 request, the Army asserted that no relevant information was available.
The Army awarded at least one contract in Iraq to Kellogg Brown & Root Services (KBR), a division of Halliburton, to repair and rebuild Iraq’s petroleum production, refining and distribution systems. Letters from the Army Corps of Engineers to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) state that the Corps awarded the KBR contract following approval by Army headquarters. However, in the FOIA denial, the Army attested that it has no documents concerning the approval of the contract.
“The Army’s determination that no responsive records exist is plainly erroneous,” Public Citizen’s appeal letter states. “The only possible explanation for this determination is either that an inadequate search was conducted or that the search was unreasonably restricted to exclude the bodies of records that would be expected to contain the records requested.”
Public Citizen appealed the Army’s denial of relevant records due to the clear conflict between the information provided by the Army to Congress about KBR’s contract in Iraq and the Army’s claim that it lacks information on how that company landed the contract. Public Citizen made its original FOIA request after media reports suggested that the Department of Defense was circumventing competitive bidding procedures in awarding procurement contracts to rebuild post-war Iraq.
This is one of two outstanding Public Citizen FOIA requests pending regarding the awarding of contracts in post-war Iraq. Public Citizen filed a second FOIA with the US Agency for International Development (US AID), which has awarded a number of no-bid contracts. US AID continues to process Public Citizen’s request.
The letter of appeal can be read online at http://www.citizen.org/documents/armyfoiaappeal.pdf.
The original Freedom of Information Act request can be read online at http://www.citizen.org/documents/DoDFOIAiraq.pdf.
Two Army letters rejecting the FOIA can be read online at http://www.citizen.org/documents/armyfoia.pdf and http://www.citizen.org/documents/armyfoia2.pdf.