This is a tale of bad coffee, and of the dirty details of government procurement that go on in our name and with our money.I had noticed that since the invasion of Iraq, we were receiving a constant, yet growing stream of web orders for coffee from soldiers (you can tell by the APO addresses).I e-mailed several and received replies saying that they were in Iraq and that the coffee was lousy.These unfortunate guys and gals were stuck in one of the least safe places on earth, doing what they believed was their duty to their country and all they got was this lousy coffee.Being a “support the troops” kinda guy, even though I think the war was based on lies and oil, we started sending the coffee and we even picked up the cost of shipping. When we tried to send the first bags, we were told by the post office that coffee couldn’t be sent because it was forbidden to send certain items to troops overseas at certain locations.
A little investigation turned up why. Apparently, that big company you love to hate (Halliburton, not Starbucks…whatever) has the no-bid contract for food services for the troops in Iraq. Hey, it was an emergency, you think the government had time to shop around for a good price and decent quality? Besides, Cheney knew this guy who knew this guy… Anyway, the rules that came out of the no-bid contract somehow state that our servicemen and women are not allowed to bring in stuff from home that might compete with whatever Big H serves up, even if it’s unpalatable swill.We were advised to write “Contents: Tea” on the packages instead of saying coffee so that the packages would get through the Halliburton/Coalition of the Willing Coffee Cops.
The last straw was when I received an email from a Halliburton (KBR) employee in Iraq asking us to donate coffee to a Welcome Center, a sort of Rec Hall/Café run by Halliburton (on our nickel) to offer rest and relaxation to the troops when they are not off being shot at or frying in the 100 degree plus heat of summertime Iraq. I e-mailed her back; wasn’t Halliburton given all that no-bid money just so that they could buy and serve decent coffee to the troops? Being a loyal employee (and probably fearing for her job) she told me that, yes, that was true, but the coffee was lousy and she had gotten some of our really good tasting coffee off another Halliburton employee who ordered for his own personal use (what's good for the goose ain't good for the gander).
“This has got to end!” I thundered. I got on Google and looked up Halliburton, surely someone in charge could do something about this insult to the troops and picking of the taxpayers’ pocket.The many folks I spoke to as I tried to navigate the labyrinthian system at Halliburton were polite and friendly, and very concerned about the troops. Yet nobody knew who was in charge of buying coffee for the Iraq project (it’s a project there, not a war).I finally found the guy…I think.But he has yet to return my phone call. Now I know how Michael Moore felt trying to see Roger.
So I have no choice but to go public with this shameful behavior.A copy of this is going to all of my state and federal representatives.And to Dick Cheney, who probably has a stash of old Halliburton tear packs for his Freedom Press in his office (we used to call them French Press before the Patriot Act forbid it).Join me in the call for Halliburton to put our money where our troops mouth is!…are!