Tag Archive: KBR


Something I found today on POGO follows..  There seems to be a pattern of seeking no accountability for contractor’s malevolent actions.  KBR (Halliburton) has a disgraceful record in the Middle East.  Is this another such corrupt action taken by government, in this case DoD,  to hold these contractors harmless for their crimes?  Could something be in the works for other contractors? 

Read the articles posted previously on this blog regarding the unfortunate experiences of Boeing International Support Systems employee, Robin Petersen, and his being held captive by BISS and Saudi Arabia and not be allowed to return to the U.S. for medical help after he was injured while doing the job he was hired to do by this Boeing wholly owned subsidiary while in Saudi Arabia.  Boeing’s evasion of Petersen’s attorney serving Boeing/BISS the summons and paperwork for Petersen’s lawsuit is certainly interesting in light of all of this.

Think back to Druyan and Sears and the Tanker scandal and Boeing getting Eric Holder’s help in putting into place a non-prosecution agreement.  As long as Boeing offered up victims, of lower managers or employees, Boeing Corporate itself would not be held accountable or be barred from receiving contracts in the future.  Handy, yes?  Is there some other smoke and mirrors thing starting to manifest itself again?  This time it would be DoD writing off accountability for contractors and their actions.  GFS

 

POGO

Oct 01, 2010

Secret Deals May Lead to Bailouts for Defense Contractor Misconduct

We may be unknowingly bailing out defense contractors such as KBR for the harm they cause, according to Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.

This week, Blumenauer, along with Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., and Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., introduced the Accountability for Defense Contractors Act. This bill would increase transparency and accountability in defense contracting by regulating the Pentagon’s use of classified contract provisions that indemnify contractors from damage lawsuits. It would require the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress when accepting liability in excess of $1 million on behalf of a contractor. It also would prohibit indemnification in cases where the contractor acted with “gross negligence, willful misconduct, or lack of good faith” or the harm resulted from “an unusually hazardous or nuclear risk not specified in the terms of the contract and discovered on the site where the contract is performed, or that reasonably should have been discovered.”

Last year, several Oregon National Guard veterans sued KBR for knowingly exposing them to a cancer-causing substance called hexavalent chromium while protecting KBR employees who were restoring a water treatment plant in Iraq in 2003. It was discovered during the course of litigation that KBR’s Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO) contract with the U.S. Army contains a classified clause indemnifying KBR for any property damage, injury or death occurring at all KBR worksites. Similar lawsuits against KBR have been filed by current and former National Guard members from Indiana and West Virginia who were also stationed at the water treatment plant in the early months of the war. This means the Army (i.e. the taxpayer) could be hit with millions of dollars in costs and damages.

Last month, Army Secretary John McHugh refused to declassify the KBR indemnification clause in his response to Blumenauer’s inquiry, but he insisted that, apart from the RIO contract, no other Army contracts awarded to companies operating in contingency situations since 2001 contain indemnification provisions. Left unsaid, of course, is whether the other service branches and units of the Department of Defense, to say nothing of other federal agencies, are providing secret indemnity to their contractors.

“The Army considers the use of indemnification provisions only in extraordinary circumstances involving unusually hazardous risks,” McHugh wrote. He also assured Blumenauer that KBR has not yet asserted any claim—and the Army has not made any payments—under the provision.

We’re glad to see Members of Congress addressing this issue and we support the Accountability for Defense Contractors Act. But we’re not convinced that contractors need immunity for wrongdoing. We’re also still left wondering: If certain government functions require perks such as secret grants of legal immunity in order to get the private sector to perform them, why are these functions even considered suitable for outsourcing in the first place?

n      Neil Gordon

Link to original:   http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2010/10/secret-deals-may-lead-to-bailouts-for-defense-contractor-misconduct.html

 

 

 

Advertisements

The conclusion that it is all personally-manifested mental illness causing the bizarre behavior and suicides does not fly with me.  This man was a Marine, and certainly was well trained to withstand stress in a war zone.  I really do believe there are other elements contributing to this problem, both for military personnel who serve in the Middle East, as well as the civilian contractors who do the same.  It seems to me that physical causes must exist due to perhaps some exposure to something chemical or biological, (natural or man created), which may contribute to the mental/emotional symptoms.  As long as companies like KBR are allowed to spin the investigations and evidence, we may never know the truth.  Refusal to come through with the insurance in these cases, should be considered a criminal investigation by our government, and treated as such.  GFS

 

The Other Victims of Battlefield Stress; Defense Contractors’ Mental Health Neglected

Friday 26 February 2010

by: T. Christian Miller, ProPublica

Excerpt: 

Redding, California – Wade Dill does not figure into the toll of war dead. An exterminator, Dill took a job in Iraq for a company contracted to do pest control on military bases. There, he found himself killing disease-carrying flies and rabid dogs, dodging mortars and huddling in bomb shelters.

Dill, a Marine Corps veteran, was a different man when he came back for visits here, his family said: moody, isolated, morose. He screamed at his wife and daughter. His weight dropped. Dark circles haunted his dark brown eyes.

Three weeks after he returned home for good, Dill booked a room in an anonymous three-story motel alongside Interstate 5. There, on July 16, 2006, he shot himself in the head with a 9 mm handgun. He left a suicide note for his wife and a picture for his daughter, then 16. The caption read: “I did exist and I loved you.”

More than three years later, Dill’s loved ones are still reeling, their pain compounded by a drawn-out battle with an insurance company over death benefits from the suicide. Barb Dill, 47, nearly lost the family’s home to foreclosure. “We’re circling the drain,” she said.

While suicide among soldiers has been a focus of Congress and the public, relatively little attention has been paid to the mental health of tens of thousands of civilian contractors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. When they make the news at all, contractors are usually in the middle of scandal, depicted as cowboys, wastrels or worse.

No agency tracks how many civilian workers have killed themselves after returning from the war zones. A small study in 2007 found that 24 percent of contract employees from DynCorp, a defense contractor, showed signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, after returning home. The figure is roughly equivalent to those found in studies of returning soldiers.

If the pattern holds true on a broad scale, thousands of such workers may be suffering from mental trauma, said Paul Brand, the CEO of Mission Critical Psychological Services, a firm that provides counseling to war zone civilians. More than 200,000 civilians work in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the most recent figures.

“There are many people falling through the cracks, and there are few mechanisms in place to support these individuals,” said Brand, who conducted the study while working at DynCorp.”There’s a moral obligation that’s being overlooked. Can the government really send people to a war zone and neglect their responsibility to attend to their emotional needs after the fact?”  (Read on)

Link to original:  http://www.truthout.org/defense-contractors%E2%80%99-mental-health-neglected57255

  1. Link to Ms. Sparky’s webpage:   http://mssparky.com/

 

 

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

 

Ms Sparky’s Blog Updates

 

Senator Dorgan, D-ND, Chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold ANOTHER hearing on KBR’s electrical work in the Middle East. I am posting the press release here for those in the middle east who are blocked from MsSparky.com For those who aren’t you can click HERE

 

 

Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing

 

 

 

“Rewarding Failure: Contractor Bonuses for Faulty Work in Iraq”

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

628 Dirksen Senate Office Building

 

 

This hearing will examine bonuses paid by the Department of Defense (DoD) to contractor KBR in 2007 and 2008, despite the company’s grossly incompetent electrical work in Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of U.S. soldiers and significant property damage caused by electrical fires.  Witnesses at the hearing will describe how the company failed to hire qualified personnel, performed electrical work in a manner that continues to place our troops in grave danger, and failed to make repairs once hazards were identified.  The hearing, which will be the nineteenth hearing held by the DPC on contracting abuses and corruption in Iraq, will also focus on the need to reform DoD’s fee award system.

 

Witnesses

 

James Childs:  Mr. Childs, a Master Electrician hired by the Army to review KBR’s electrical work in Iraq in 2008, will testify that the electrical work performed by KBR in Iraq was the worst he has seen in his 30-year career.  Mr. Childs will testify that the great majority of the buildings KBR worked on were improperly wired.  He will also testify about the difficulty he had working with KBR to correct the problems.

 

Eric Peters:  Mr. Peters, a Master Electrician, worked for KBR at Al Asad Airbase, Camp Striker, and Camp Warrior in Iraq.  He worked in Iraq from February 2009 through April 2009, when he resigned in response to KBR’s disregard for safety and its inability to perform quality electrical work.  Mr. Peters will testify about KBR’s poor performance, which resulted in part from the substandard, inferior materials used by the company, and the lack of qualified individuals serving in management.

 

Charles Smith:  Mr. Smith, who managed the LOGCAP III contract for the Pentagon, was forced out of his job in 2004 when he refused to approve paying KBR more than $1 billion in questionable charges.  Had Mr. Smith not been ousted from his job, he would have continued to oversee KBR’s performance under LOGCAP III.  He will testify about the need to reform DoD’s award fee process.  In November 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld awarded Mr. Smith the Department of Defense’s Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service.

 

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

 

If you can’t make it to DC to watch this hearing hopefully it will be on C-SPAN. I will get the videos on Ms Sparky as soon as possible.

 

My personal thanks to Senator Dorgan, chairman of the Senate DPC, for his true “unwavering commitment” to the safety of our soldiers and civilians and financial responsibility to US taxpayers. Also…a big thanks to Holly and Leslie who made it all happen!!

 

Please forward to those who might be interested in this information. If you are in the States forward to those friends and family in the Middle East.

 

I know KBR is going to put on the pressure with threats and intimidation. That is their MO. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your family. If you need to unsubscribe all together, I get it!

 

If you have questions you can email me by replying to this Update.

 

Be safe!!

 

 

Ms Sparky

(aka Debbie Crawford)

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

 

 

 

Here is the original announcement sent out by Leslie Gross-Davis (DPC)

 

“Rewarding Failure: 

Contractor Bonuses for Faulty Work in Iraq

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

628 Dirksen Senate Office Building

This hearing will examine bonuses paid by the Department of Defense (DoD) to contractor KBR in 2007 and 2008, despite the company’s grossly incompetent electrical work in Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of U.S. soldiers and significant property damage caused by electrical fires.  Witnesses at the hearing will describe how the company failed to hire qualified personnel, performed electrical work in a manner that continues to place our troops in grave danger, and failed to make repairs once hazards were identified.  The hearing, which will be the nineteenth hearing held by the DPC on contracting abuses and corruption in Iraq, will also focus on the need to reform DoD’s fee award system.

Witnesses

James Childs:  Mr. Childs, a Master Electrician hired by the Army to review KBR’s electrical work in Iraq in 2008, will testify that the electrical work performed by KBR in Iraq was the worst he has seen in his 30-year career.  Mr. Childs will testify that the great majority of the buildings KBR worked on were improperly wired.  He will also testify about the difficulty he had working with KBR to correct the problems.

 

Eric Peters:  Mr. Peters, a Master Electrician, worked for KBR at Al Asad Airbase, Camp Striker, and Camp Warrior in Iraq.  He worked in Iraq from February 2009 through April 2009, when he resigned in response to KBR’s disregard for safety and its inability to perform quality electrical work.  Mr. Peters will testify about KBR’s poor performance, which resulted in part from the substandard, inferior materials used by the company, and the lack of qualified individuals serving in management.

 

Charles Smith:  Mr. Smith, who managed the LOGCAP III contract for the Pentagon, was forced out of his job in 2004 when he refused to approve paying KBR more than $1 billion in questionable charges.  Had Mr. Smith not been ousted from his job, he would have continued to oversee KBR’s performance under LOGCAP III.  He will testify about the need to reform DoD’s award fee process.  In November 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld awarded Mr. Smith the Department of Defense’s Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service.

Dedicated KBR/Halliburton Whistleblower, Ms. Sparky, has been the target of a weasel attack by KBR, who blocked her site on their company servers.  Anyone working overseas for the company, is now blocked and cannot read or communicate with Ms. Sparky if it goes through any of the KBR servers. 

 Ms. Sparky is still putting together information for the legal actions which are proceeding on against KBR.  Please read the following information to see if you know any of the people, or any information which may be useful in prosecuting and winning the cases currently in process.  Thanks,  GFS

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

 KBR has block MsSparky.com from their servers. I’m not surprised. What does surprise me is it took them this long.

 

KBR has blocked “Ms Sparky” from their servers May 1, 2009

As of yesterday (March 31, 2009)  MsSparky.com has been block from the vast majority of KBR’s servers and for those complaining, there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Sorry!! KBR owns the servers and therefore can censor the info you receive….kinda like North Korea! So for those KBR employees in the US, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Dubai who still want to keep up with what’s going on via MsSparky.com, here are a few suggestions.

 

1. For those KBR employees in the States, you will have to access MsSparky.com from home, Starbucks or any other system. For those in the Middle East, access MsSparky.com from the internet in your room if you have it. Be a good co-worker and copy and save it as a PDF so it can not be changed and then attach it to an email and send it to your friends via their non KBR email accounts, ie Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail etc. If KBR is even still allowing you access those. Sending a “link” for MsSparky.com won’t work. You must copy the text of the post.

2. Try accessing MsSparky.com from a non KBR computer. Try a military MWR, military office or another contractors server or a friends internet access from their room.

3. Ask someone from the States to read MsSparky.com, copy it, save as a PDF and send it to you if possible.

4. I will be setting up an email list to send out “text only” copies of my posts. Unfortunately is won’t include comments. If you would like to leave a comment on those posts, just email me your comment and I will add it myself.

5. If you would like to be on that email list, send me an email via the “Contact Us” page (tab at top on right) or mssparky@mssparky.com. I am the only one that can see your email address. Give me a couple of days to get this going. If you have a specific question ask it and I will try to answer it for you.

6. You can continue to send information to mssparky@mssparky.com or the “Contact Us” page if you have access. Or, print it and mail it to DJ Crawford, PO Box 1278, Battle Ground, WA 98604.

 

I am going to look into redirecting links and cross posting my posts at other sites. I’ll let you know. I suspect that KBR will block those as well. All I can say is….we must be doing something right.

 

Keep those cards and letters coming!! LOL

 

Ms Sparky

 

Bruce Stanski Now Works For Fluor!!

 

It’s was confirmed by a MsSparky.com reader!! Bruce Stanski former President of KBR Government & Infrastructure is to take over the Government section of Fluor. Hmmm Something just doesn’t seem right about that! If I was the DoD and Dyncorp I would just be crying foul! Here’s the comment they posted with the email trail.

 

 

Dwight said,

on April 24th, 2009 at 11:30 am edit

 

 

Ms Sparky-After I read your post I just shot out an email using the same email format as KBR. (same as My Two Cents posted) Damned if I didn’t luck out. Here’s how the email went:

 

me:

“Are you the same Bruce Stanski that was the President of KBR G&I”

 

Bruce Stanski:

“the one and only”

 

me:

“I guess that answers that rumor. Best of luck to you.”

 

I don’t think I will be hearing from him again.

I want to think he left because it was just not an ethical company to work for. But then, it all happened under his watch.

Having Stanski can only be good for Fluor.

 

Ms Sparky’s Response:

What a super sleuth! Please forward me that email!

 

 

 

We are still looking for this information!!

 

This is your chance to make a difference!! You can email them to me at mssparky@mssparky.com If you do not want an email trail, save them or print them and mail them to:

 

DJ Crawford

PO Box 1278

Battle Ground, WA 98604

 

If you are not comfortable with either one of those methods let me know and I will try to work out something that is comfortable for you.

 

I am looking for emails, information, Corrective Action Requests (CAR’s) and Corrective Action Plans (CAP’s) from 2002 to Present regarding KBR in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Dubai etc.

 

 

Any emails from DoD about KBR or a KBR subcontractor

Any emails from KBR Management

Any emails from KBR Legal

Any emails from KBR consultants

Any emails or information regarding KBR Code of Business Conduct failures

Any incorrect or inappropriate email responses from KBR

Any emails regarding the Navigant Tiger Team

Any emails or information relating to any water treatment issues

Any emails or information relating to any electrical system failures. Especially anything relating to the death of SSG Ryan Maseth, SSG Christopher Everett or any other Soldier or Civilian that has died or may have died from electrocution.

Any emails or information relating to the death of Robert Jones at Camp Falcon

Any emails or information relating to the death of any KBR employee

Any emails or information relating to any Dining Facility (DFAC) issues

Any emails or information relating to living container (CHU’s/Hooches/Trailers) issues

Any emails or information relating to Sub-Contract Workers (SCW/TCN/FN) and Human Trafficking

Any emails or information relating to “Task Force SAFE” in Iraq

Any emails or information relating to “Task Force Power” in Afghanistan

Any Emails from or pertaining to:

 

William Utt

William Jonas

Bill Walter

Tom Crum

Chris Heinrich

 

Jill Pettibone

Navigant Consulting

David Brenner

Bruce Stanski

Robert Peter Bennett

Thomas Tagle

Karen Chillcott

Kristine Burnell

Any Project Manager (PM) or Deputy Project Manager (DPM)

Any others that might admit to or document problems

Any info on the following subcontracts:

First Kuwaiti

La Nouvelle

Tamimi

 

ASCO

American General Trading

Eagle Global

Najlaa

Prime Projects International

Any Dining Facilities (DFAC)

Altanmia

Iraqi American Development Company (IADCO)

Iraqi American Telecom Company (IATEL)

Other issues:

 

Fly America Act Violation

Freight America Act Violations

Internal Audits

Board of Directors Minutes

 

 

If you have information that is not on this list that you know needs to be investigated or reported…send it and I will do the best I can to get it where it needs to go.

 

Ms Sparky

 

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

 

Here are some recent links to KBR, AIG and Middle East news article that may be of interest to you. These links do not go to MsSparky.com and you should be able to access them.

 

DoD’s New Generator Will Prevent Electric Shock

 

KBR to appeal Judge’s Decision in Soldier Electrocution

 

KBR, Inc. Q1 2009 Earnings Call Transcript – This is interesting. And on Page 7 (short pages) Bill Utt says, with regard to the increase in KBR lawsuits “I will tell you there’s a lot of stuff we see out there that appears to be opportunistic in terms of people more interested in civil suits than they are against alleged perpetrators.” All I can really say to this is…I hope the Market Analyst are smarter than that!

 

A great local article about a Task Force SAFE inspector

 

Jamie Leigh Jones fights to make KBR’s secret arbitration illegal

 

KBR face new wrongful death suits for burn it exposure

 

Third Country National Guards not protecting troops or civilians

 

KBR’s Own Memos Undermine Defense For Good Friday Massacre

 

ABC’s 20/20 Injured KBR employees on AIG’s failure to pay claims

 

Those should get you caught up. I still don’t have anything conclusive about KBR’s LOGCAP IV contracts. As soon as I get something I will let you know. If you know something let me know.

 

Please forward to those who might be interested in this information. If you are in the States forward to those friends and family in the Middle East.

 

I know KBR is going to put on the pressure with threats and intimidation. That is their MO. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your family. If you need to unsubscribe all together, I get it!

 

If you have questions you can email me by replying to this Update.

 

Be safe!!

 

 

Ms Sparky

(aka Debbie Crawford)

This is a recent post from Ms. Sparky’s (a former employee in Iraq, and whistleblower) website.  Link to her page to see this and much more: 

 http://mssparky.com/2008/09/noi-will-not-shut-up/

————————————-

NO….I Will Not Shut Up!

Posted on September 9th, 2008

by ms sparky in About Me, KBR, Media Coverage, My Interviews, Rants, Women in Construction, Working Overseas

I got this comment last night in response to  “My 100th Blog Post – How MsSparky.com Evolved”. I get these responses all the time in emails and I normal just disregard them…but not today!

This is a comment from “DC”.

the testifying, I get. But the public speaking and anything remotely related to work or even specifically describing daily recreational activities was contractually prohibited….. did they change this? It used to be grounds for immediate termination. no “please remove this…” Just one question…. window or isle?

Ms Sparky’s Response:
First, I no longer work for KBR. I just read my contract AGAIN…just to make sure and it DOES NOT say anywhere that I can’t talk about mine and others experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are countless books, websites, blogs already published by former KBR employees about their experiences in Iraq. I understand operational security (OPSEC). I understand classified information. I also understand KBR’s MO of threats, intimidation and misinformation. You can’t talk about this…you can’t talk about that. This is in violation of your contract!!! Bullshit!! My contract wasn’t even with KBR, is was with SEII. People need to talk about it and remove that KBR imposed veil of secrecy and get the word out. How long has this BS been going on now?? 5 years of Human Trafficking, Waste Fraud & Abuse, Employee Abuse, Rapes, Assaults, Unsafe Workplaces, Lack of Tools and Material? THAT’S WHY I DO THE INTERVIEWS!! And will continue to do so until the damn laws are changed so that the term “window or aisle” used as a threat is illegal even in Iraq! That’s how KBR controls it’s employees, through fear, intimidation, isolation (no more cell phones) and misinformation!

 

I will not stop until every US citizen working for any US Government funded contractor including KBR/SEII, at ANY US facility world wide is afford the same legal protections as their Stateside co-workers…. For one, DON’T THREATEN TO FIRE ME IF I DON’T SHUT UP ABOUT SAFETY ISSUES!!!!!! (Hostile workplace) And some OSHA protection would be nice as well.

So…in answer to your question NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO I will not shut up. I WILL NOT shut this blog down. I will continue to publish peoples stories and comments. I will continue to publish information I feel is important to current and former KBR employees. It’s a free country, KBR can sue me if they want. That will just give me something more to blog about! If I’m not mistaken….my first amendment rights are still in effect here! Can you say ACLU?

 

The more qualified, licensed people KBR gets over there, the less they are going to be able to get away with crap!

 

So….DC…..comment on that! And just to clarify. I have no intentions at this time to write a book on my experiences in Iraq!

Ms Sparky

 

This is unbelievable, kind of like taking a trip in “The Wayback Machine” (ala Mr. Peabody’s in Rocky and Bullwinkle) to once again see how victims of rape are treated in this country.  Have the last 40 years changed nothing?  Rape victims are abused further by their employers, the state department, and then by our legal system, in a big “blame the victim” session.  Please go view the videos.  -GFS

 

———————————————————————–

More than half of the operatives in

Iraq are private contractors.  This

is unprecedented in American history.

 

The war in Iraq has enabled the Bush

Republicans to fund the development

of their own private army, Blackwater,

which as already been deployed on US

soil.

 

Halliburton routinely provides wildly

overpriced and substandard services

including contaminated water to troops.

 

The last in the series: utter lawlessness,

if you’re a private contractor in Iraq.

 

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/370.html

 

– Brasscheck

– Brasscheck

 

P.S. Please share Brasscheck TV e-mails and

videos with friends and colleagues.

 

That’s how we grow. Thanks.

 

Link to videos about more Iraq contractor (KBR/Halliburton) “mayhem.”  http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/370.html

 

I recently mentioned a website written by a former electrician, “Ms. Sparky,” who worked in Iraq, turned whistleblower.  Please look at her most recent post below and then use the link to visit her site to see comments and lots of other interesting information.  -GFS

————————————————————————————-

Replace KBR With Qualified Electrical Contractor Says Senator Dorgan

Posted on July 18th, 2008

by ms sparky in KBR & Senate Investigations, Politics, Women in Construction, Working Overseas

Link to Original posting:  http://mssparky.com/

 

Press Release: Senators Want Independent Safety Review of KBR’s Electrical Work in Iraq

July 18, 2008

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who chaired a Senate hearing last week on the electrocution of U.S. troops in Iraq, and four other U.S. Senators are objecting to the Pentagon’s selection of contractor KBR to inspect its own electrical work in Iraq. The hearing examined reports that at least a dozen U.S. troops were electrocuted since 2004 at U.S. military bases in Iraq where KBR holds the contract for electrical work. The Pentagon asked KBR to inspect its work for hazards following those reports.

Dorgan, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) raised their objection in a letter sent Friday to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General David Petraeus. The inspections should be independently conducted by someone “both well-qualified and objective,” they wrote.

Dorgan also called Friday on Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General David Petraeus to take immediate action to suspend KBR’s contract for electrical work at U.S. military bases in Iraq and replace the company with “people who know what they are doing and whose work won’t put the lives of American soldiers at risk.” Dorgan said.

A New York Times report Friday revealed electrical problems at military bases in Iraq are much more numerous, widespread and severe than previously acknowledged. “This is a problem that requires immediate action to protect American troops,” Dorgan said. “Somebody other than KBR ought to be doing electrical work at U.S. bases in Iraq immediately. KBR’s failure is massive and American troops are dying because of it.”

On July 11, Dorgan presided at a Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) hearing which examined the electrocution reports. The panel heard testimony from the mothers of two soldiers who were electrocuted and a soldier who saw other U.S. troops being shocked. It also received testimony from two KBR whistleblowers who said KBR routinely hires non-electricians – even in supervisory posts – to perform electrical work and resists fixing known hazards.

The testimony “documented KBR’s poor performance and lax standards in hiring employees to do electrical work. Given this track record, and the fact that a number of deaths have occurred at facilities maintained by the company, it makes no sense to entrust KBR with inspecting electrical safety conditions in Iraq,” the Senators wrote.

KBR would also “have strong incentive to describe its own work in the best possible light,” the Senators noted. “In fact, KBR’s spokesperson has insisted from the outset – before KBR has even completed the inspections – that there is no evidence that KBR has done anything wrong. Thus, the company seems to be prejudging the outcome of its investigation.”

– END –

Be sure to read the letters to General David Petraeus (click HERE) and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (click HERE)

3 Comments

Electrical Risks at Bases in Iraq Worse Than Previously Said

Posted on July 18th, 2008

by ms sparky in KBR & Senate Investigations, Politics, Women in Construction, Working Overseas

Evans family, via South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Ten buildings were destroyed late last month at a Marine base near Falluja, Iraq, after an electrical fire broke out.

 

 

By JAMES RISEN

New York Times

Published: July 18, 2008

WASHINGTON — Shoddy electrical work by private contractors on United States military bases in Iraq is widespread and dangerous, causing more deaths and injuries from fires and shocks than the Pentagon has acknowledged, according to internal Army documents.

During just one six-month period — August 2006 through January 2007 — at least 283 electrical fires destroyed or damaged American military facilities in Iraq, including the military’s largest dining hall in the country, documents obtained by The New York Times show. Two soldiers died in an electrical fire at their base near Tikrit in 2006, the records note, while another was injured while jumping from a burning guard tower in May 2007.

And while the Pentagon has previously reported that 13 Americans have been electrocuted in Iraq, many more have been injured, some seriously, by shocks, according to the documents. A log compiled earlier this year at one building complex in Baghdad disclosed that soldiers complained of receiving electrical shocks in their living quarters on an almost daily basis.

Electrical problems were the most urgent noncombat safety hazard for soldiers in Iraq, according to an Army survey issued in February 2007. It noted “a safety threat theaterwide created by the poor-quality electrical fixtures procured and installed, sometimes incorrectly, thus resulting in a significant number of fires.”

The Army report said KBR, the Houston-based company that is responsible for providing basic services for American troops in Iraq, including housing, did its own study and found a “systemic problem” with electrical work.

But the Pentagon did little to address the issue until a Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Ryan D. Maseth, was electrocuted in January while showering. His death, caused by poor electrical grounding, drew the attention of lawmakers and Pentagon leaders after his family pushed for answers. Congress and the Pentagon’s inspector general have begun investigations, and this month senior Army officials ordered electrical inspections of all buildings in Iraq maintained by KBR.

“We consider this to be a very serious issue,” Chris Isleib, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday in an e-mail message, while declining to comment on the findings in the Army documents.

Heather Browne, a KBR spokeswoman, would not comment about a company safety study or the reports of electrical fires or shocks, but she said KBR had found no evidence of a link between its work and the electrocutions. She added, “KBR’s commitment to the safety of all employees and those the company serves remains unwavering.”

In public statements, Pentagon officials have not addressed the scope of the hazards, instead mostly focusing on the circumstances surrounding the death of Sergeant Maseth, who lived near Pittsburgh.

But the internal documents, including dozens of memos, e-mail messages and reports from the Army, the Defense Contract Management Agency and other agencies, show that electrical problems were widely recognized as a major safety threat among Pentagon contracting experts. It is impossible to determine the exact number of the resulting deaths and injuries because no single document tallies them up. (The records were compiled for Congressional and Pentagon investigators and obtained independently by The Times.)

The 2007 safety survey was ordered by the top official in Iraq for the Defense Contract Management Agency, which oversees contractors, after the October 2006 electrical fire that killed two soldiers near Tikrit. Paul Dickinson, a Pentagon safety specialist who wrote the report, confirmed its findings, but did not elaborate.

Senior Pentagon officials appear not to have responded to the survey until this May, after Congressional investigators had begun to ask questions. Then they argued that its findings were irrelevant to Sergeant Maseth’s electrocution.

In a memo dated May 26, 2008, a top official of the Defense Contract Management Agency stated that “there is no direct or causal connection” between the problems identified in the survey and those at the Baghdad compound where Sergeant Maseth died.

But in a sworn statement, apparently prepared for an investigation of Sergeant Maseth’s death by the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, a Pentagon contracting official described how both military and KBR officials were aware of the growing danger from poor electrical work.

In the statement, Ingrid Harrison, an official with the Pentagon’s contracting management agency, disclosed that an electrical fire caused by poor wiring in a nearby building two weeks before Sergeant Maseth’s death had endangered two other soldiers.“The soldiers were lucky because the one window that they could reach did not have bars on it, or there could have been two other fatalities,” Ms. Harrison said in the statement. She said that after Sergeant Maseth died, a more senior Pentagon contracting official in Baghdad denied knowing about the fire, but she asserted that “it was thoroughly discussed” during internal meetings.

Ms. Harrison added that KBR officials also knew of widespread electrical problems at the Radwaniya Palace Complex, near Baghdad’s airport, where Sergeant Maseth died. “KBR has been at R.P.C. for over four years and was fully aware of the safety hazards, violations and concerns regarding the soldiers’ housing,” she said in the statement. She added that the contractor “chose to ignore the known unsafe conditions.”

Ms. Harrison did not respond to a request for comment.

In another internal document written after Sergeant Maseth’s death, a senior Army officer in Baghdad warned that soldiers had to be moved immediately from several buildings because of electrical risks. In a memo asking for emergency repairs at three buildings, the official warned of a “clear and present danger,” adding, “Exposed wiring, ungrounded distribution panels and inappropriate lighting fixtures render these facilities uninhabitable and unsafe.”

The memo added that “over the course of several months, electrical fires and shorts have compounded these unsafe conditions.”

Since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, tens of thousands of American troops have been housed in Iraqi buildings that date from the Saddam Hussein era. KBR and other contractors have been paid millions of dollars to repair and upgrade the buildings, including their electrical systems. KBR officials say they handle the maintenance for 4,000 structures and an additional 35,000 containers used as housing in the war zone.

The reports of shoddy electrical work have raised new questions about the Bush administration’s heavy reliance on contractors in Iraq, particularly because they come after other high-profile disputes involving KBR. They include accusations of overbilling, providing unsafe water to soldiers and failing to protect female employees who were sexually assaulted.

Officials say the administration contracted out so much work in Iraq that companies like KBR were simply overwhelmed by the scale of the operations. Some of the electrical work, for example, was turned over to subcontractors, some of which hired unskilled Iraqis who were paid only a few dollars a day.

Government officials responsible for contract oversight, meanwhile, were also unable to keep up, so that unsafe electrical work was not challenged by government auditors.

Several electricians who worked for KBR have said previously in interviews that they repeatedly warned KBR managers and Pentagon and military officials about unsafe electrical work. They said that supervisors had ignored their concerns or, in some cases, lacked the training to understand the problems.

The Army documents cite a number of recent safety threats. One report showed that during a four-day period in late February, soldiers at a Baghdad compound reported being shocked while taking showers in different buildings. The circumstances appear similar to those that led to Sergeant Maseth’s death.

Another entry from early March stated that an entire house used by American troops was electrically charged, making it unlivable.

Since the Pentagon reports were compiled, more episodes linked to electrical problems have occurred. In late June, for example, an electrical fire at a Marine base in Falluja destroyed 10 buildings, forcing marines there to ask for donations from home to replace their personal belongings.

On July 5, Sgt. First Class Anthony Lynn Woodham of the Arkansas National Guard died at his base in Tallil, Iraq. Initial reports blamed electrocution, but his death is being investigated because of conflicting information, according to his wife, Crystal Woodham, and a spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard. (END OF ARTICLE)

I hate to say I told you so…but I will

“I TOLD YOU SO!!!! DAMN IT!!!”

Ms Sparky