Tag Archive: KBR Fraud


KBR Got Bonuses for Work that Killed

Soldiers

Link to Original:

  http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090601/scahill?rel=emailNation

 

By Jeremy Scahill

The Department of Defense paid former Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $80 million in bonuses for contracts to install electrical wiring in Iraq. The award payments were for the very work that resulted in the electrocution deaths of US soldiers, according to Department of Defense documents revealed today in a Senate hearing. More than $30 million in bonuses were paid months after the death of Sgt. Ryan Maseth, a highly decorated, 24-year-old Green Beret, who was electrocuted while taking a show at a US base in January 2008. His death, the result of improper grounding for a water pump, has been classified by the US Army Criminal Investigations Division (CID) as a “negligent homicide.” Maseth’s death had originally been labeled an accident. Bonuses were paid to KBR in 2007 and 2008, after CID investigators had officially expressed concerns about the quality of KBR’s electrical work. For its part, KBR denies any culpability for the electrocution deaths.

 

This information was revealed at a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. According to the committee’s chair, Sen. Byron Dorgan, the rewards KBR received under its LOGCAP contracts were supposed to be for work of the “highest quality” with “no deficiencies” or problems. Dorgan said KBR’s work was “shoddy” and “unprofessional.” Some eighteen US soldiers have died since 2003 as a result of KBR’s “shoddy work,” according to Sen. Frank Lautenberg. KBR/Halliburton, of which Dick Cheney was chairman and CEO from 1995 to 2000, has been the single largest corporate beneficiary of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It continues to operate globally on US government contracts.

Charles Smith, the former Army official who managed the contracts under which KBR performed electrical work in Iraq, testified that it was “highly inappropriate” that KBR received these bonuses for what he called “dangerously substandard” work. He said that the Army was well aware of KBR’s “poor performance” since the beginning of the Iraq invasion, and yet continued to reward KBR because the military was “afraid” KBR would cease work. He said there was “a culture that decided KBR was too big to fail and too important to be held to account.” The “perverse incentive is that there was no incentive” for KBR to do quality work because they received bonuses for poor work.

Senator Dorgan said there are “tens of thousands of examples” of unnecessary risks to US soldiers, including deaths that have arisen as a result of KBR’s work. “Why should [KBR] be getting more contracts now that we know all this information?” asked Sen. Bob Casey. “The Defense Department has not answered these questions.”

James Childs, a master electrician hired by the Army to review electrical work in Iraq during 2008, testified that KBR’s work in Iraq was the “most hazardous, worst quality work” he’d ever seen. He said his investigation found improper wiring in “every” building KBR wired in Iraq (of which there are thousands) and that KBR’s rewiring work in buildings that were previously safely wired resulted in the electrical system becoming unsafe. Childs said that KBR did not do any work “according to code.” He also testified that the same risks exist in Afghanistan, which he recently visited. “While doing inspections in Afghanistan, I found the exact same code violations,” Childs said.

Eric Peters, a master electrician who worked for KBR in Iraq as recently as 2009, said that 50 percent of the KBR-managed buildings he saw were not properly wired. “I worried every day people would be injured or killed as a result of this work,” Peters testified. He estimated that at least half the electricians hired by KBR–many of them cheaper-costing Third Country Nationals (TCNs)–to service the US military in Iraq would not have been hired to work in the United States, saying they were not trained in US or UK electrical standards. TCNs–from places like India, Bangladesh and Bosnia–are estimated to have done some 60 percent of the electrical work for KBR in Iraq. Peters charged that KBR allowed trainees to take notes in to certification tests, making it very easy to be cleared for work.

Peters also charged that KBR “frowned upon” any refusal to sign off on work that Peters deemed incomplete or unsafe. Peters and others who testified said that “all over theater,” meaning everywhere in Iraq, KBR would effectively double-bill US taxpayers by leaving electrical work half-done or incorrectly done and then billing taxpayers again to repair its own shoddy work.

Peters characterized KBR managers as “completely unqualified” and said he is not a “disgruntled former employee” but rather a “disgusted former employee.”

About Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute, is the author of the bestselling Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, published by Nation Books. He is an award-winning investigative journalist and correspondent for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!. more…

 

***************************************************************************************

Someone sent me this comment via email last night (6-13-09) .  I post it here for everyone’s information. -VM

 

**************************************************************

 

Posted by Brendan

 

Having worked for KBR in the past nothing in this article surprises me in the slightest. I worked next to the electricians in the plumbing shop for almost 16 months. There was one building that had electrified pipes that shocked one of our workers. The Electricians came by and cleared that building (4 hours later) and our guy went back to work repairing a drain to a sink. This time he tested the pipes with a pen like device that flashes and beeps if electricity is present. Not only was the pipe still electrified, but the electrician had not even checked in the right wing of the building. We all tested the pipes after that. Though I have to say that when dealing with a third world electrical system that exists in Iraq I have always preferred to have TCN or Bosnians as my electrical counterparts. They understand the systems better and in my experience do a better job. In my zone I had an American electrician so bad I wouldn’t go anywhere near her work unless her TCN “trainee” signed of on it to me. He was a far better electrician in my view since I have never been fried but his work, but I had been by hers on more than one occasion.

Also I think that KBR should check on the validity of the “licensed” people. In my shop we had 5 master plumbers on the books but only 2 of them had real licenses. The other 3 had been forged, and if KBR had tried to match the names and numbers with state records they would not have matched at all. I expect the same is true for the electricians since they actually get paid a lot more for having a license.

**********************************************************************

 Thank you for your comment, Brendan.  It is amazing to me in some ways that we even have to deal with this kind of contractor corruption and stupidity that you and Ms. Sparky and her readers have described.  On the other hand, given the environment of greed and corruption in federal contracting that has progressively increased during the past decade, it could be expected.  Besides noting the attendant problems that occur when people are not adequately trained for their particular job assignments, I encourage everyone to do the following:

 

Contact all of your elected politicians and support further improvements to protections for whistleblowers who are federal or private contractor employees.  The people who have been standing up the crap and corruption have been absolutely targeted by the corrupted ones for doing so.  Ethical and responsible employees should not be punished and persecuted to doing the right thing.

 

Contact all of your elected politicians and demand that real “change” in the form of cleaning up federal agencies from the very top on down to eliminate industry influence and control that is currently damaging the ability of oversight employees in the field from doing their jobs as they wish to do them – ethically.

 

Contact all of your elected politicians and demand that real “change” in the form of cleaning up industry, particularly defense contractors, be initiated immediately. 

 

Contractors, including large corporations who have government contracts, should not feel and behave as though they are in the driver’s seat.  Through lobbying, bribes and other less than ethical manipulations, such as packing government advisory committees, work groups, congressional and other political influence groups, contractors have developed an unacceptable attitude of arrogance.  These contractors do not believe they have to follow even the federal laws and requirements we do have about continuing to keep their federal contracts and the huge sums of money they are paid for that contracted work. 

 

Field oversight people who have been trying to do their jobs are hard pressed to successfully do so, with people higher in the management chain, who are corrupted, actively undermining them.  Also, careers are being destroyed on a regular basis for many federal oversight employees (and defense contractor employees) who do not just shut up and rubber stamp inspections and allow the corrupted ones to continue on corruptly. 

 

There are certain large defense contractors that few, on their own without a lot of public pressure, will stand up to take on.  Please help pressure your elected officials, particularly those you believe may be less compromised and indebted to the defense contractors, (those without large and frequent campaign contributions from defense contractors), to help clean out the thoroughly corrupted ones by holding them accountable, and forcing defense contractors to follow the rules and meet the expectations that go along with their receipt of billions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars for these contracts.  -GFS

Advertisements

From Truthout.org:  Please support Truthout!

US Army Paid Bonuses to KBR Despite Questions

Wednesday 20 May 2009

by: Thomas Ferraro  |  Visit article original @ Reuters
Pfc. Justin Shults displays his burn wounds. Shults was electrocuted in a shower facility in Iraq, and is now suing KBR. (Photo: AP)

    Washington – The U.S. Army paid “tens of millions of dollars in bonuses” to KBR Inc, its biggest contractor in Iraq, even after it concluded the firm’s electrical work had put U.S. soldiers at risk, according to a source close to a U.S. congressional investigation.

    The Senate Democratic Policy Committee plans to hold a hearing on Wednesday to examine KBR’s operations in Iraq, and question why the Army rewarded the Houston-based company.

    The panel says KBR has been linked to at least two, and as many as five, electrocution deaths of U.S. soldiers and contractors in Iraq due to “shoddy work.”

    Investigators believe hundreds of other soldiers may have received electrical shocks, the source added. The Army is investigating.

    The company denies responsibility for any of the electrocutions, saying it is proud of its work and that its employees make great sacrifices to get the job done.

    KBR was part of Halliburton Co until two years ago. Former Vice President Dick Cheney served as Halliburton’s chief executive from 1995 to 2000, when he became George Bush’s running mate.

    During the Bush administration, some critics claimed Cheney’s deferred compensation from the company represented a conflict of interest and questioned Halliburton’s winning of lucrative government contracts in Iraq.

    Military reports have criticized KBR’s work in Iraq in recent years. Yet afterward, the company received “tens of millions of dollars in bonuses,” said the source, who declined to be identified.

    “We want to know why,” the source said.

    The military was invited to send a witness to testify at Wednesday’s hearing, but the committee agreed to let it submit a written statement instead, the source said. Witnesses who are expected to attend include a former KBR electrician.

    On Tuesday, the Army had no immediate comment when asked about the bonuses.

    Threat of Fire

    A September 30, 2008, letter to KBR from an officer in the Defense Department’s Defense Contract Management Agency had harsh words for the company.

    “We cannot overemphasize the significance of the lack of sustained electrical support services being provided by KBR in Iraq to maintain the minimum life, health and safety standards in support of our warfighters,” wrote Captain David Graff, an agency commander.

    A February 2007 report by the agency also raised concerns about KBR and its subcontractors in Iraq — while acknowledging the difficulty of working in a war environment.

    “Primary safety threat, theater wide, is fire due to the inferior 220 electrical fixtures found throughout Iraq,” it said. “Improper installation, substandard equipment purchases (such as light fixtures) and heavy usage appears to be the three primary causes of these fires.”

    U.S. lawmakers have raised concerns about the U.S. military’s increased use of private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan and have said KBR and other companies should be held accountable.

    KBR spokeswoman Heather Browne said, “KBR remains proud of the work it performs in Iraq.”

    “We remain committed to engaging in a transparent and more importantly, a fact-based dialogue on this issue while pledging continued full cooperation and support to the military.”

    The Senate Democratic Policy Committee is the research arm of the Senate Democratic leadership and often conducts investigations of its own.

    ———–

    (Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

From Ms. Sparky’s Website: http://mssparky.com
2008 – KBR’s 5th Year Of LOGCAP Fraud, Waste & Abuse

Posted on December 31st, 2008
by ms sparky in Iraq Chemical Exposures, Iraq Electrocutions, Iraq Human Trafficking, KBR, KBR Employee Issues, Lawsuits Against KBR, Media Coverage, Senate & House Committee Hearings

When I first came up with this idea to do a recap of KBR activity for 2008, I didn’t think it would take me three days to do the research and compile all the info. I haven’t been following everything that KBR has been up to. That would take a full-time “staff”. I found out things I didn’t even know were going on. And after all that research…all I can really say is…if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck….it must be a freakin’ duck!
I tried to get my dates as accurate as possible. If I’m incorrect, send me an email and I will correct it. If I missed something, send me an email and I will add it.
January 2008
01/02/2008 – SSG Ryan Maseth is electrocuted in his shower and dies at Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad, Iraq due to shoddy electrical work. Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) opens investigation into manner of death.
01/??/2008 – KBR employee, Dawn Leamon was drugged and brutally raped in her room at Camp Harper in Southern Iraq.
February 2008
02/27/2008 -KBR employee Tracy K Barker was raped in Basra, Iraq. – Another of KBR’s rape victims to come forward Click HERE to read a very interesting post
March 2008
03/09/2008 – AP Exclusive – US troops may have become sick in Iraq from contaminated water supplied by KBR
03/12/2008 – Pentagon Dismisses KBR Contaminated Water: Troops Should ‘Just Drink Bottled Water’
03/19/08 – Cheryl Harris, SSG Ryan Maseth’s mother files “Wrongful Death” lawsuit against KBR in Pennsylvania.
April 2008
04/09/2008 – Former KBR employees Dawn Leamon and Mary Beth Kineston testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about their rapes in Iraq – Closing Legal Loopholes:Prosecuting Sexual Assaults And Other Violent Crimes Committed Overseas By American Civilians In A Combat Environment
04/28/2008 – Senate DPC Hearing – Contracting Abuses in Iraq:Is the Bush Administration Safeguarding American Taxpayer Dollars? – KBR employees working in Iraq stole weapons, artwork and even gold to make spurs for cowboy boots, two former company workers told Senate Democrats.
May 2008
05/09/2008 – Former KBR employee and Jamie Leigh Jones gang rape case goes to trial instead of arbitration!
05/25/2008 – 9 former KBR employees file suit for sodium dichromate exposure.
June 2008
06/02/2008 – My first blog post about KBR and the soldier electrocutions. (It’s important to me!)
06/11/2008 – The Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) finds SSG Ryan Maseth’s death was an “accident”. (CID reopens investigation 08/29/2008)
06/20/2008 – Senate DPC Hearing – The Exposure at Qarmat Ali: Contractor Misconduct and the Safety of U.S. Troops in Iraq Former KBR employees testify about how KBR knowingly exposed US Troops and their own employees to Hexavalent Chromium (Chrom-6).
06/20/2008 – Group demands that California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALPERS) dump KBR Inc stocks. What a great idea!!!
July 2008
07/01/2008 – Senator Casey expresses concerns about KBR performing own electrical inspections.
07/09/2008 – Senate DPC Hearing – Safeguarding Taxpayer Dollars in Iraq: An Insider’s View of Questionable Contracting Practices by KBR and the Pentagon Former Chief of the Field Support Command Division testifies to personally witnessing KBR submitting over $1 billion in unsupported charges.
07/11/2008 – Senate DPC Hearing – Contractor Misconduct and the Electrocution Deaths of American Soldiers in Iraq Mothers Cheryl Harris, Larraine McGee, Soldier Rachel McNeil and Electricians Debbie Crawford and Jeff Bliss testify to shoddy electrical work done by KBR. More videos and media coverage.
07/17/2008 – The H.R. HEART Act of 2008 goes into affect. KBR can no longer avoid paying millions in Social Security and Medicare taxes. To bad it’s not retroactive.
07/17/2008 – Fisher v. Halliburton – KBR Lawsuit Revived – The “Good Friday Massacre.” Friday, April 9, 2004. KBR truck drivers were sent out on convoy when KBR was told they would be attacked.
07/18/2008 – Electrical Risks at Bases in Iraq Worse Than Previously Said
07/18/2008 – Senators Want Independent Safety Review of KBR’s Electrical Work in Iraq
07/21/2008 – Larraine McGee, mother of SSG Christopher Everett file suit against KBR for his electrocution death at Camp Taqqadum.
07/30/2008 – Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hold hearings on Deficient Electrical Systems at U.S. Facilities in Iraq KBR’s Tom Bruni, the DoD and DCMA are totally humiliated by the Committee for their shoddy work and lack of oversight.
August 2008
08/??/2008 – KBR changes it’s qualification requirements for it’s electricians requiring them to be licensed. It also increases journeyman wages to $3750 base and masters to $5000 base. Finally!!!
08/12/2008 – Curtis Coffey files suit. Iraq Injury Spurs Class Action Against KBR
08/27/2008 -KBR, Partner in Iraq Contract Sued in Human Trafficking Case – Suit Alleges Slavery
08/29/2008 – The Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) re-opens the investigation into the cause of SSG Ryan Maseth’s death.
September 2008
09/??/2008 – Task Force Safe is implemented to inspect the electrical wiring at 90,000 DoD facilities including those maintained by KBR.
09/03/2008 – Former KBR Exec pleads guilty to bribery and is sentenced to seven years.
09/11/2008 – KBR issued Level III Corrective Action Request (CAR) by the DCMA in Iraq.
09/27/2008 – Electrical Review Turns Up 3700 fires Not The 483 Reported!
09/29/2008 – IBEW Urges Electrical Safety In Iraq
October 2008
10/??/2008 – KBR claims all electrical work in Iraq was done to British Standards
10/10/2008 – Former KBR employee gets 3 years for child porn in Iraq
10/24/2008 – Pentagon Finds Company Violated Its Contract on Electrical Work in Iraq – NY Times
November 2008
11/24/2008 – Contractor (KBR) for military committed serious violations-CNN
11/26/2008 – Suit claims Halliburton, KBR sickened base – Ice tainted with body fluids, rotten food and contaminated water.
December 2008
12/03/2008 – KBR involved in Human Trafficking…again.
12/08/2008 – Indiana National Guard file suit against KBR for chemical exposure at Qarmat Ali water plant.
12/29/2008 – New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds demands answers. I hope more Pension Funds SELL their KBR and HALLIBURTON shares because of the Waste, Fraud & Abuse in Iraq!!!
12/31/2008 – The last day for Contractor Immunity in Iraq
What I’d like to see for 2009
· I want to know if KBR is invoicing the DoD (and therefore the American Taxpayer) for the costs associated with defending itself in the cases of “wrongful death” of soldiers, the Qarmat Ali chemical exposures, the Human Trafficking suits, the employee rape suits and any other cases that have to do with LOGCAP.
· I would like to see the Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) finalize their investigation in the Soldier electrocution cases, file criminal charges, and send out a press release on the above!!
· I would like to see the Army Criminal Investigations Command (CID) open an investigation into the chemical exposure of our soldiers and civilians at Qarmat Ali. Is there one already? Send me an email.
· I would like to start a “grass roots” campaign to get pension funds, retirement accounts and others to sell their shares of KBR and Halliburton stocks. Yes…they are making money now. But drug cartels make money too and we don’t invest in them…at least knowingly. I could use some help here! Email me.
· I would like to see more Human Trafficking Organizations get involved in KBR’s Human Trafficking in the middle east.
· I would like to see Congress demand an all out independent audit of KBR invoices and payments.
· I would like to see Congress find out exactly what KBR charged the DoD for man hours worked. Did they charge more than straight time for overtime? Did they charge uplift for every hour worked and then only pay for 40 hours?
· And most of all, what I would like to see for 2009 is KBR senior executives sentenced to prison for their part in the negligent deaths of US soldiers and US Civilians, human trafficking of third world laborers and the fleecing of the American taxpayer.
Happy New Year
Ms Sparky