The Daily Show: Rape-Nuts

TDS: Al Franken proposes getting rid of the old “it’s OK if you get raped” clause in government contracts, but 30 Republicans object..

Gotta love the party of “values”…

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Civilian Contractors, Water, U.S. Soldiers, KBR, and Wastewater Pouring Out of Showers…

Stories of short supplies have haunted the U.S. military throughout the war in Iraq—things like inadequate body armor or unshielded Hummers. But while many soldiers say they had good access to water and even Gatorade, the 11 News Defenders discovered that others, stationed all over the country and during all phases of this desert war, say something else was often missing.

“We were rationed two bottles of water a day,” said Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Robey, referring to 1 to 1.5 liter bottles.

In this report, Robey talks about running out of water and forced to drink water out of faucets in Iraq homes, because that was the only water around.  The problem with that is, most Iraqi water is untreated and can cause illness. As a result, dysentery spread rapidly through his unit, affecting between 50 to 60 men.

They had to resort to stealing water from civilian contractors by taking unsafe routes, with road bombs, to the airport to find pallets of water that had not been distributed.

Another problem facing the soldiers was – unclean water in the sinks and showers in Iraq.

Turns out, at many similar bases, the water was supposed to be processed by Houston-based company KBR. In an internal KBR report, the company sites “massive programmatic issues” with water for personal hygiene dating back to 2005. It outlines how there was no formalized training for anyone involved with water operations, and one camp, Ar Ramadi, had no disinfection for shower water whatsoever.

“That water was two to three times as contaminated as the water out of the Euphrates River,” said former KBR employee Ben Carter.

Carter, a water purification specialist, was the one to blow the whistle on it all. He said he first noticed a problem when he found a live maggot in a base toilet at Camp Ar Ramadi. He subsequently discovered that instead of using chlorinated water, the soldiers’ sinks and showers were pouring out untreated wastewater.

I did some digging and found that this problem goes back to 2004, it was first reported by ABC News in 2006.

Continue reading

Federal Judge Upheld Lawsuit Against KBR

KBR gambled that the decisions made by the Army, would prevent them from being prosecuted.  Well, the good news is, they thought wrong.   A federal judge denied their request, for dismissal of a lawsuit by a mother, whose son was electrocuted in the shower while serving in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth

Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth

The lawsuit, filed by Cheryl A. Harris of Cranberry, accuses Houston-based contractor KBR of failing to maintain the electrical infrastructure at the former estate of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Ms. Harris’ son, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, an Army Ranger and Green Beret, was electrocuted as he showered on Jan. 2, 2008, while stationed there.

“This case does not involve claims arising from active military combat operations,” Judge Fischer said in her 56-page ruling. “The issues presented by [Ms. Harris’] claims involve the alleged negligent performance or non-performance of KBR in providing maintenance services to the United States Army.”

The lawsuit, she said, “asks this court and a jury to determine whether the work that KBR actually performed at the [complex] was substandard, negligent work that resulted in Ryan Maseth’s death.”

KBR attorneys used the excuse,  this could be a “potential embarrassment to the Army” as just cause for the lawsuit to be dismissed.  The judge had an excellent response for that argument.

Judge Fischer, however, noted that “the Army has not sought to intervene in this action nor expressed any concerns to this court.”

Former Haliburton Exec Pleads Guilty

As a Haliburton executive Albert “Jack” Stanley is well known in the world of Big Oil for his ability to secure billion dollar contracts in third world countries.

In the wake of his admission in a guilty plea last week that he had resorted to bribes, kickbacks and high-level corruption to secure deals in Nigeria, however, Stanley now lies at the center of a widening scandal in the oil industry that has implications for corporations and governments across the globe.

Stanley’s case is the first in what federal officials believe will be a string of indictments in coming months against U.S. corporate executives who have participated in bribing foreign officials in recent years.

Previously Stanley had said that Vice President Dick Cheney, who was CEO of Halliburton at the time, had no knowledge of the bribes. At the time though Stanley was not a cooperating witness. Stanley’s sentence will be determined based on his compliance with the plea agreement. Stanley’s attorney, Larry Veselka, has said that his client will cooperate fully in any investigation. Cheney’s office has refused to comment citing continuing litigation.

And the FBI is actively involved in this case so this case is not likely to disappear into the realm of the Justice Department.

The active involvement of the FBI is particularly worrisome to such people. In contrast to white-collar investigations handled by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI is believed to be prepared to use techniques more familiar to investigations of organized crime, including wiretapping and undercover agents.

There is much, much more to this story from ProPublica and PBS’ “Frontline”.

HT joe cantwell

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