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July 31, 2008

KBR's faulty wiring blamed for deaths of at least 16 soldiers in Iraq

A congressional report released yesterday blames faulty electrical work by contractor KBR for the deaths of at least 16 American troops in Iraq:

The denials leave an accountability problem that may ultimately lead to the Pentagon officials in charge of overseeing KBR.

"Who is to blame for this?" Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the ranking Republican on the committee, asked Bruni. "Was it the army? Was it the soldier responsible for taking the shower?"

"The responsibility lies with the army," Bruni said after initially dodging the question.

The army, meanwhile, remains uncertain how many soldiers have actually been electrocuted.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the multinational force in Iraq, said last month that 13 soldiers had been electrocuted. Last week the Pentagon said the number was 16. Now the oversight committee says it has documents indicating 19 deaths.

At the hearing, Jeffrey Parsons, executive director of the Army Contracting Command, said that the Pentagon is still in the process of investigating the electrocutions. Parsons also noted that Pentagon auditors lack "sufficient skill sets or expertise to perform adequate oversight of electrical work being performed by KBR." [Washington Independent]

KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton until last year, recently won yet another contract for Iraq reconstruction.

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Lindsay, as I read the linked story, there have been multiple cases of death by electrocution of American soldiers in Iraq, but the congressional report released yesterday blames KBR for only one of them. It doesn't absolve the company from responsibility for the other deaths, but, according to the Washington Independet story you quoted, The oversight committee report focuses narrowly on the Maseth electrocution, concluding that KBR installed the water pump that killed him.

Can you point me to the information in the story that supports your report that the congressional report blames KBR's work for the death of at least 16 troops?

Page 14:

Documents and information provided to the Committee indicate that as many as 19 U.S. military and contractor personnel may have died as a result of electrocution or faulty wiring since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003. This number has continued to increase as more information has been disclosed over the past six months.

Defense Department documents confirm that at least 17 U.S. military and contractor personnel have died as a result of electrocution in Iraq since the beginning of 2003.54 Two other deaths are currently under investigation, but are also believed to be a result of electrocution.55 Table A lists the 19 confirmed or suspected deaths from electrocution and faulty wiring in Iraq since 2003.

To arrive at its estimate the committee analyzed a variety of military records, including KBR's own executive summary, which acknowledges 13 deaths by electrocution. The report cites additional deaths by electrocution at KBR-maintained facilities cited DOD records to reach a total of at least 16 troops. There are also some contractor deaths and some deaths that are still investigation, so the true total may be higher.

Lindsay, I think you should consider revising your claim that the congressional report blames KBR for the electrocution deaths. The source you provide says s 19 U.S. military and contractor personnel may have died as a result of electrocution or faulty wiring since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003. This does not assign blame for any of the deaths--certainly KBR may be responsible for all of them, but as far as I can tell, the congressional report does not make that claim. It seems to me that the report says at least 16 soldiers died, but it only assigns blame for one of the deaths.

I'm not questioning the number of deaths you are reporting, merely your assertion that a congressional report blames KBR in 16 deaths.

My daughter recently returned from Iraq (third deployment). She has nothing but scorn for KBR. She confirms that at least one of those electrocutions took place in a shower at her encampment. KBR workmanship is sloppy, she says, and their personnel are arrogant and callous beyond all accountability (whereas average incomes of KBR personnel are 3 to 4 times higher than commissioned officers). Bastards!

The suicide rate in our military is disturbing (and under reported by the MSM). According to my daughter, there were also suicides at her encampment. According to Army protocol, every scrap of brain tissue must be removed from walls and returned with the body. KBR personnel refuse this detail, thus putting even more pressure on our already over-stressed and under-paid troops.

This article, Suicides in Iraq Worse Than You Thought, explains:

The rate of suicides grew in 5 years from a low of 9.1 per 100,000 soldiers in 2001 to the 2006 rate of 19.4 per 100,000 … the Pentagon did not give a number for the women serving in the war zones, but they did admit that twice as many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide as did women in the service not sent to war.

All this for an illegal war predicated on false and misleading intelligence that has killed almost 4,200 American soldiers, maimed tens of thousands more, and destabilized a country resulting a million deaths and millions of refugees. How will we ever assuage a national conscience guilty of this catastrophe?

By concealing every last transgression starting with the president and by no means ending with KBR. This is a criminal cover-up on a massive scale.

Lindsay, a CBS news story regarding the electrocution deaths in Iraq doesn't seem to support the assertion that the congressional panel is blaming KBR for all the reported fatalities:

Of the 16 cases, more than half involved contact with power lines during military or construction operations, and the rest occurred while making electrical repairs or from improper grounding of electrical equipment, according to the report.

Four deaths appear to be related to wiring problems, and one of them involved work done by KBR, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Tuesday.

Are you still standing by your claim that the congressional report blames KBR for 16 deaths?

oh man, I hate to always be the one to say but i'm going to: THIS is another tillman.

Locally, I'm watching the young folks that die, reading their stories. To a person they are awesome individuals, many who have already applied and been accepted for law enforcement positions locally and etc. Further, they are well-remembered, LOVED and highly regarded by people whom I respect.

Somewhere in this sick bastard of a war a BIGGER, SICKER bastard is using it for a dual-triple-quadruple purpose of selectively assuring that those in a position to do good won't make it home.

That's my story and I can back it up.

Please research the ones in your own locale.

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