Americans working in Iraq for Halliburton spin-off KBR have been outraged by the massive fraud they saw there. Dozens are suing the giant military contractor, on the taxpayers' behalf. Whose side is the Justice Department on?
On first meeting him, one might not suspect Alan Grayson of being a crusader against government-contractor fraud. Six feet four in his socks, he likes to dress flamboyantly, on the theory that items such as pink cowboy boots help retain a jury's attention. He and his Filipino wife, Lolita, chose their palm-fringed mansion in Orlando, Florida, partly because the climate alleviates his chronic asthma, and partly because they wanted their five children to have unlimited access to the area's many theme parks.
Grayson likes theme parks, too. Toward the end of two long days of interviews, he insists we break to visit Universal Studios, because it wouldn't be right for me to leave his adopted city without having sampled the rides. Later he sends me an e-mail earnestly inquiring which one I liked best.
He can be forgiven a little frivolity. In his functional home-office in Orlando, and at the Beltway headquarters of his law firm, Grayson & Kubli, Grayson spends most of his days and many of his evenings on a lonely legal campaign to redress colossal frauds against American taxpayers by private contractors operating in Iraq. He calls it "the crime of the century."
His obvious adversaries are the contracting corporations themselves—especially Halliburton, the giant oil-services conglomerate where Vice President Dick Cheney spent the latter half of the 1990s as C.E.O., and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, now known simply as KBR. But he says his efforts to take on those organizations have earned him another enemy: the United States Department of Justice.