It seems that the continued push by the Democratic Policy Committee regarding allegations of shoddy electrical work from KBR have finally opened the Pentagon investigative door. From a DPC press release (PDF):
Two U.S. Senators today are requesting a meeting with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the mother of a U.S. soldier who has been informed by an Army investigator that her son’s death by electrocution at his base in Baghdad has been re-classified by the Army from “accidental” to “negligent homicide” by contractor KBR and two of its supervisors….
Dorgan noted the Army originally told Harris her son was electrocuted because he carried an electrical appliance into the shower. The Army later retreated from that account, saying Staff Sgt. Maseth was electrocuted by wires hanging above the shower, an account that was also inaccurate….
“Those who receive contracts to serve our soldiers have an obligation to do so responsibly,” Dorgan said. “We want to know what Secretary Gates intends to do to ensure that contractors are acting responsibly, particularly in light of the Army’s reported finding that KBR and its supervisors may have been criminally negligent. We also want to know why the DOD has not pursued a process to debar contractors who are fleecing our taxpayers and putting soldiers at risk.”
Last July, the DPC held hearings regarding the deaths of American soldiers serving in Iraq due to shoddy electrical work done by contractor KBR — work which was known to be substandard at the time of the deaths, but which was not corrected. Since then, the investigation shifted away from allowing KBR to audit itself to having independent forensics be done by DOD personnel…but the contract with KBR for continued electrical work continues because it’s been dubbed too big to terminate.
Would that Staff Sgt. Maseth had been able to make that argument rather than be electrocuted by shoddy, negligent electrical work.
The American public deserves solid answers on this, since our taxpayer dollars are still pouring out to KBR. Good for Sens. Dorgan and Casey (PDF) for continuing to push for accountability.
(YouTube — Sen. Dorgan from the presser on this issue.)