Judge orders Army to release KBR records

U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina late last week ordered the Army to release nearly 100 pages of records it had attempted to withhold from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request sought by Judicial Watch, which announced the development yesterday.

The documents are in connection with a multibillion-dollar, no-bid contract awarded in 2003 by the Army to KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., to fight oil-well fires in Iraq and restart oil production.

Noting Vice President Cheney’s prior relationship to Halliburton Co., Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request to obtain documents pertaining to the lucrative no-bid contract. Cheney was Halliburton’s CEO before becoming vice president.

The Army sought to withhold the documents from Judicial Watch citing “Exemption 5” in the FOIA law, which protects certain “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters.”

However, after concluding its review of the documents, the court ruled that exemptions invoked by the Army did not apply to some of the documents, according to a Judicial Watch press release.

Judicial Watch previously uncovered e-mail correspondence suggesting that the no-bid contract was coordinated with the vice president’s office and that a top Pentagon contracting official objected to the no-bid KBR contract.