The Rewards for Killing Our Troops

4KBR In March, House Oversight Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) announced that he was investigating the accidental electrocution of troops in Iraq and pressed Defense Secretary Robert Gates for uncensored details on at least a dozen deaths since 2003. Contractor KBR is at the center of the probe, with questions about whether it irresponsibly ignored wiring problems.

Today, The New York Times has more details on this malpractice, including the fact that senior KBR and Pentagon officials repeatedly ignored warnings by KBR electricians:

One electrician warned his KBR bosses in his 2005 letter of resignation that unsafe electrical work was “a disaster waiting to happen.” Another said he witnessed an American soldier in Afghanistan receiving a potentially lethal shock. A third provided e-mail messages and other documents showing that he had complained to KBR and the government that logs were created to make it appear that nonexistent electrical safety systems were properly functioning.

KBR itself told the Pentagon in early 2007 about unsafe electrical wiring at a base near the Baghdad airport, but no repairs were made. Less than a year later, a soldier was electrocuted in a shower there.

John McLain, the electrician who in 2007 told a visiting defense contracting agency official about his concerns over the logs, was fired shortly after the incident. Another employee “said his KBR bosses mocked him for raising safety issues.”

This sort of refusal to acknowledge and correct errors seems to be standard operating procedure within KBR, unfortunately. Former employee Jamie Leigh Jones revealed that after she was gang-raped by co-workers, not only did the company place her “under guard in a shipping container,” but warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she would lose her job. In an opposite situation, a KBR employee who was “busted by the military” for looting in Iraq was “given a promotion.”

Similarly, Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse, who oversaw contracts for the Army Corps of Engineers, told the Senate in 2005, that KBR represented the “most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.” Reflecting the Pentagon’s efforts to protect KBR, Greenhouse was demoted almost two months to the day after voicing that critique.

Despite all these irresponsible, unethical actions (as well as providing contaminated water to troops and evading millions in taxes), KBR recently announced that it had tripled its first quarter net profits and received new contracts worth up to $150 million for 10 years to provide assistance to the U.S. military overseas.

Inserted from <Think Progress>

There you have it.  If your company kills US troops through fraudulent contracting practices, you will reap the rewards of record profit and more no-bid contracts from the Bush/McBoomBoom/GOP Reich.  This is especially true is a good chunk of those profits end up in the pockets of ChickenHawk Cheney.

How do they get away with it?  Despite many requests for a DOJ investigation into KBR’s illegal activities, the DOJ has ignored all such requests.  This will not go on indefinitely.  With a Democrat in the White House and an honest AG, the investigations will proceed.  Under a statute from WWII, the federal government can sue them for treble damages.  Unfortunately, they have foreseen this.  As I explained on March 12, 2007,  Halliburton relocated their corporate HQ to Dubai to place themselves out of reach of US courts.  In addition, they spun-off KBR, so it is now a subsidiary.  They can raid the KBR for its assets and let it fail should the judgements pile up.

Bush/McCain: The Arlington Plan

30Vets On April 9, Spc. Jon Town was featured on the cover of The Nation, in an article that told how he was wounded in Iraq, won a Purple Heart and was then denied all disability and medical benefits. Town’s doctor had concluded that his headaches and hearing loss were not caused by the 107-millimeter rocket that knocked him unconscious but by a psychological condition, “personality disorder,” a pre-existing illness for which one cannot collect disability pay or receive medical care.

Soon Town became a national figure, the human face of the 22,500 soldiers discharged with personality disorder in the past six years. His story was picked up by the Army Times, Washington Post Radio and ABC News’s Bob Woodruff. It was dramatized in a May episode of NBC’s Law & Order. And rock star Dave Matthews began discussing Town’s plight at every stop in his spring concert series.

Further investigation by The Nation has uncovered more than a dozen cases like Town’s from bases across the country. All of the soldiers interviewed passed the rigorous health screening given recruits before being accepted into the Army. All were deemed physically and psychologically fit in a second screening as well, before being deployed to Iraq, and served honorably there in combat. None of the soldiers interviewed during this eleven-month investigation had a documented history of psychological problems.

Yet after they returned from Iraq wounded and sought treatment, each was diagnosed with a pre-existing personality disorder, then denied benefits. As in Town’s case, Army doctors determined that the soldiers’ ailments were pre-existing without interviewing friends, family or fellow soldiers who knew them before they were wounded in combat.

In this article you will hear from Army doctors who say wounded soldiers are routinely misdiagnosed. One says he was pressured by superiors to diagnose personality disorder in cases where soldiers were physically wounded or suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, acting surgeon general of the Army, was briefed on the problems with the Army’s personality disorder discharges. Instead of correcting cases like Town’s, she buried them. The surgeon general released a series of memos filled with fabrications. Pollock then informed wounded soldiers that their cases had been thoroughly reviewed by an independent panel of health experts when in fact no such review was conducted.

“This is not the way the government ought to work. It’s not the way they should be responding to veterans,” says Representative Bob Filner, chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. He first heard Town’s story in April and began working soon afterward to bring the soldier to Washington. There Town would get his chance to tell Congress everything: about his diagnosis, his discharge and the work of Surgeon General Pollock… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <The Nation>

Amazing Places 1071475. This is just the introduction to a major five page article, and I urge you strongly to click through and read the rest. I have watched with growing frustration as Democrats in Congress have put forward measure after measure to improve the lot of our troops and veterans only to see them either vetoed by the ChickenHawk-in-Chief or fall to GOP filibusters, in which the GOP could always count on John McHypocrite to vote against our nation’s troops and vets.

GW Bush, McConJob, and the GOP have a formula for supporting our troops and vets. I call it The Arlington Plan. If that isn’t clear, see the graphic.

All articles cross-posted from Politics Plus

The Reward for Betrayal

24petraeus_bush Under a plan announced at the Pentagon on Wednesday, the two commanders most closely associated with President George W. Bush’s current strategy in Iraq would be elevated into new posts with responsibilities extending into the next administration over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

General David Petraeus would take charge of all military affairs across the Middle East and Central Asia, and would be succeeded as the senior commander in Iraq by Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, who returned to Washington in February after serving 15 months as Petraeus’s deputy…

…The previous Central Command chief, Admiral William Fallon, chose early retirement in March after rankling the Bush administration with public comments that seemed to suggest differences with the White House. If Petraeus and Odierno were to win Senate confirmation to their new posts, Gates said, they would take over in late summer or early fall… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <IHT>

No single military leader is more responsible for the crisis we now face in Iraq as a result of backing one Shia militia against another that that lying sycophant, Petraeus.  His willingness to goose-step behind the failed policies of Bush, McDubya, and the GOP has cost the loves of hundreds of US troops and thousands of innocent Iraqis.  Bush and the GOP are rewarding him for betraying our troops for political favor and trying to lock November’s winner into extending their failed war for oil an conquest.  He must NOT be confirmed.

House to Investigate Defense Contract

28ammo A lengthy investigation published Thursday reveals that the Pentagon gave an inexperienced 22-year-old a $300 million contract to provide ammunition to Afghanistan. The shady deal resulted in decades old, substandard munitions being delivered to US and Afghan troops fighting on the front lines of the war on terror.

Following publication of a lengthy New York Times article, the House Oversight Committee announced it would investigate AEY Inc., a fledgling company that thrived after 2003 as the US government began handing out billions of dollars to private defense contractors. Chairman Henry Waxman invited company officials as well as representatives of the State and Defense departments to testify at a hearing next month, according to a news release.

The results of that investigation, which sent seven reporters across three continents, were published Thursday.

But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur. With the award last January of a federal contract worth as much as nearly $300 million, the company, AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces. Since then, the company has provided ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging, according to an examination of the munitions by The New York Times and interviews with American and Afghan officials. Much of the ammunition comes from the aging stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO have determined to be unreliable and obsolete, and have spent millions of dollars to have destroyed. In purchasing munitions, the contractor has also worked with middlemen and a shell company on a federal list of entities suspected of illegal arms trafficking.

The company’s president was 22-year-old Efraim E. Diveroli, who ran the company with a 25-year-old from Miami Beach, Florida. Waxman has requested that Diveroli testify, along with company vice president David M. Packouz and Levi Meyer its general manager… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Raw Story>

It’s still too early in this investigation to know specifically how this travesty occurred, but this is just too far afield for me to believe it’s nothing more than standard Bush/McConJob/GOP incompetence. I have no doubt that, when the smoke clears we will find that the GOP has once again corruptly sacrificed the lives of our troops for profit.

Cross-posted from Politics Plus