Saturday, July 12, 2008
The biggest US military contractor in Iraq, KBR, was steeped in another scandal Friday as lawmakers, families and experts accused it of recklessly causing the electrocution deaths of US soldiers.
“While I had always been prepared to hear that one of my sons died by way of a firefight or a roadside bomb, I was dumbstruck to hear that my son was electrocuted while taking a shower in his living quarters,” said Cheryl Harris, mother of army Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, who died in January.
Maseth’s “burnt and smoldering” body was found under still-running, electrically charged water by a fellow soldier who kicked down the door of the bathroom at an army base in Baghdad, Harris told a hearing of the Senate Democratic policy committee.
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KBR, a former subsidiary of the Halliburton energy firm which was once led by Vice President Dick Cheney, was contracted to maintain facilities at the base and had been informed of electrical problems in the building where Maseth died.
But, said Harris, KBR showed “extreme recklessness and a total disregard for public safety” by failing to fix the problem as well as others that have caused at least 13 electrocution deaths among soldiers and civilian contract workers in Iraq.
Larraine McGee also lost her son, National Guard Staff Sergeant Christopher Everett, to electrocution at another facility maintained by KBR, which won the “elephant contract” for Iraq, under which it is tasked with providing and maintaining housing for US forces.
This article was posted: Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 3:02 am