DOD Inspector General Finds Multiple KBR And Military Failures In Electrocution Deaths

Last January, Sens. Dorgan and Casey and the Democratic Policy Committee pushed the Department of Defense to investigate multiple issues with electrocution deaths in Iraq.

The IG’s office delivered its initial report yesterday (PDF).  As Sen. Byron Dorgan says:

U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) said Monday a new Defense Department Inspector General investigation confirms findings of a hearing he chaired a year ago: the electrocution death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth was the result of poor-quality electrical work by contractor KBR and that the Army failed to adequately oversee KBR or hold the company accountable.

“This is a damning report,” Dorgan said Monday. “The conduct of both KBR and the Army is unacceptable.”

In the report, the Inspector General concluded that KBR failed to ground equipment which contributed to the electrocution death of Staff Sgt. Maseth. . . .

“KBR has repeatedly denied any responsibility for what happened to Sgt. Maseth and other soldiers who were shocked and electrocuted in Iraq. This report makes it impossible for them to do that any longer,” Dorgan added. “Instead of cutting corners and issuing denials, KBR needs to get very serious, very quickly about doing quality work that protects soldiers rather than endangering them.”

The IG report is blunt: KBR failed to ground a water pump that provided water to showers where Sgt. Maseth was stationed, and Army supervisors failed to set baseline standards, inspect negligent work, or hold anyone accountable for shoddy work product — and even for deaths of its own servicepeople — until forced to do so by a public shaming.

Huge kudos to Sen. Dorgan and the other members of the DPC for continuing to force this issue.

Because otherwise, it would have simply disappeared, with family members having been told on multiple occasions that their loved ones either died of natural causes or died of self-inflicted electrocutions.  Beyond shameful conduct from multiple actors in this.

Thus far, the ongoing IG review has found that at least 9 electrocution deaths of US troops in Iraq can be attributed to shoddy electrical work and failure to follow proper safety procedures, and failures on multiple layers of supposedly required military inspections which should have caught the errors.

Worse, I’m told there is still a lot to inspect and review, which means that this ongoing investigation may not have caught all the shoddy work as yet.  I am currently trying to verify this with DOD sources.

American troops are risking their lives in uniform. Who knew they’d also be risking their lives in the shower because of faulty contracting work?

They deserve a hell of a lot better than that. 

And so do we all, since we’ve paid "$83.4 million in bonuses that the Pentagon paid KBR under LOGCAP III Task Order 139 for its shoddy electrical work," per Sen. Dorgan’s press release on the IG report.  That’s your taxpayer dollars, folks. (more…)

President Obama’s Speech At Joint China/US Economic Strategy And Dialogue Session

Thought some folks might be interested in this, considering that the Chinese economy and ours are so intertwined at this point.  Lots of nuance here, as usual with anything dealing with the Chinese, diplomacy and the economy. 

But it’s especially touchy at the moment given the worldwide recession issues and how much US debt the Chinese are currently holding — which, in my mind anyway, diminishes our ability to leverage them on any concessions on trade imbalance, human rights or otherwise.  (Especially given our own recent track record on the same.) 


btw, this transcript comes directly from the WH — this is their transcription, not mine. Just fyi.

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Washington, D.C.
9:35 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good morning. It is a great honor to welcome you to the first meeting of the Strategic Economic Dialogue between the United States and China. This is an essential step in advancing a positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship between our countries. I’m pleased that President Hu shares my commitment to a sustained dialogue to enhance our shared interests.

President Hu and I both felt that it was important to get our relationship off to a good start. Of course, as a new President and also as a basketball fan, I have learned from the words of Yao Ming, who said, "No matter whether you are new or an old team member, you need time to adjust to one another." Well, through the constructive meetings that we’ve already had, and through this dialogue, I’m confident that we will meet Yao’s standard. (more…)

Quelle Surprise: Dr. Tiller’s Murderer Links Himself To Operation Rescue

Scott Roeder, who shot Dr. George Tiller, links himself to Operation Rescue in a jailhouse interview.  Color me shocked:

In a phone interview Friday, Roeder said he was upset at the president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman, who had condemned the killing and said his organization had nothing to do with Roeder.

“He said that I never was a member and I never contributed any money,” Roeder said. “Well, my gosh, I’ve got probably a thousand dollars worth of receipts, at least, from the money I’ve donated to him.”

Do tell, Mr. Roeder. What other connections did you have with Operation Rescue through the years? From whence did you draw your inspiration to drive over to Dr. Tiller’s church and shoot him in cold blood?

For a real taste of the illogical and convoluted internal justifications, the NYTimes Magazine had a lengthy piece on how Dr. Tiller’s murder has diminished fundraising hopes for pro-life groups because some of their ardent supporters now think murdering someone for performing a legal medical procedure is the more effective solution. 

Boo hoo, cry me a river, because that’s both sane and logically consistent, isn’t it?

Especially since Randall Terry, Operation’s Rescue’s attention-seeking mouthpiece, says he’s not responsible for people thinking they are murdering for the lord.  That’s despite statements out of his own mouth, as recent as last week wherein Terry "exalt[s] in warning of “random acts of violence” and violent "reprisals against those deemed guilty"" for daring to think about putting reproductive services in a health care bill.

No contraception for you, slutty womenfolk.  But the viagra is still a-okay!

McJoan points out the political non-penalty for Terry and his ilk:

There’s a larger issue than just Terry’s dangerous crazy here, though. He’s doing the Republican’s dirty work. If any liberal organization went anywhere near this crazy, you know Democratic members of Congress would be falling all over themselves to apologize from the floor of the House. Look what happened with MoveOn and the "Betrayus" ad. When are Republicans going to denounce this?

I’m not holding my breath. Because I’m not exactly seeing journalists — or Democratic leadership, frankly — asking about the GOP’s accountability for using people like Terry to push their political agenda forward. 

As always, Digby nails it:

Controlling other people’s sexual lives and women’s bodies is the agenda. There’s no point in pretending otherwise. You can search for common ground but I can’t find any with people who believe these things. And every inch you give them only encourages them to take another mile. It’s a losers strategy.

It’s no one’s damned business what goes on in someone else’s bedroom — or what difficult choices individuals have to make in incredibly painful situations in their lives. (more…)

Sunday Cuppa

I know I’ve been on a bit of a cello kick lately, but this performance by Yo-Yo Ma of Dvorak’s Silent Woods (YouTube) is incredible. Very moving and lush. Sometimes, you just have to pause and be thankful for the beauty in the world, too.

Saturday Potluck

Starting off with a bit of Jacqueline du Pre, her cello and Elgar’s Cello Concerto, First Movement. I know this piece is associated with her, but I do think this performance from Yo-Yo Ma (YouTube) gives her a serious run for her money. See what you think…

For most of the day yesterday, my internet connection was out.

Pull Up A Chair…

Happy birthday, Auntie Jane! Momma says it’s that time again.  And she doesn’t mean markdowns at the Eames store, either.

Friday Muppet Blogging

During the guest stint of Brooke Shields on the Muppet Show when she was still a youngster, they did a whole, trippy take on Alice in Wonderland.

It’s a must see episode if you can find it on DVD.

It was episode 506 of the show, FYI.

The Peanut thinks this wacky take on the Jaberwocky poem is a hoot.

So that’s today’s selection for everyone.


Health Care: A Little Arm Twisting On The WH Menu This Morning?

According to the official WH schedule, President Obama is having Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Max Baucus over to the WH for a meeting this morning. You think health care might come up? My favorite touch on this is that Reid and Baucus will be meeting in the Oval Office. Talk about your home court advantage.

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