Army has to turn over Halliburton docs

June 7, 2006 at 2:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 7 (UPI) -- A U.S. district court judge has ordered the Army to release 14 documents, including six emails, dealing with the Halliburton oil contract in Iraq.

U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbina also ordered the Army to give to the court an additional six documents for the court to review to make a further determination.

At issue is a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, an anti-corruption public interest group. Judicial Watch believes the award of a multi-billion contract to Halliburton subsidiary KBR for the restoration of Iraq's oil fields may have been unduly influenced by Vice President Dick Cheney, who headed Halliburton for five years prior to joining President George. W. Bush's campaign.

The documents amount to 100 pages, according to Judicial Watch.

Three years ago Judicial Watch obtained and released an e-mail between the Army Corps of Engineers and another party that referenced the fact that the deal -- awarded in secret, without any competition, two weeks before the invasion of Iraq -- had been coordinated with the vice president's office.

The Army fought Judicial Watch's FOIA lawsuit, but failed to provide enough information to the court for it to make its decision. Therefore, the judge had to review the documents in person to determine whether they were exempt from FOIA requirements. Urbina was not happy.

"The court undertook an onerous in camera review of the defendant's documents in large part because of the defendant's failure to provide an accurate Vaughn index" listing the contents and relevance of each document.

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