From Jeremy Scahill at The Nation today, a synopsis of explosive testimony before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee regarding contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root (former Halliburton subsidiary and by far the largest beneficiary of federal wartime funding, ever). According to the story, KBR received more than $80 million in bonuses for installing electrical writing in military facilities in Iraq — $30 million of that was paid after a soldier was killed by faulty wiring in one of the showers on base. According to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J, 18 soldiers have perished under similar circumstances.
The take-home passage:
James Childs, a master electrician hired by the Army to review electrical work in Iraq during 2008, testified that KBR’s work in Iraq was the “most hazardous, worst quality work” he’d ever seen. He said his investigation found improper wiring in “every” building KBR wired in Iraq (of which there are thousands) and that KBR’s rewiring work in buildings that were previously safely wired resulted in the electrical system becoming unsafe. Childs said that KBR did not do any work “according to code.” He also testified that the same risks exist in Afghanistan, which he recently visited. “While doing inspections in Afghanistan, I found the exact same code violations,” Childs said.
For its part, KBR denies any culpability for the electrocution deaths.
Scahill quotes a former military official once in charge of such contracts, saying the bonuses were paid out of fear KBR would cease work, that they becameÂ “too big to fail.” That’s a big reason why hearings like these — as informative and cathartic they are — never result in any real action. Behemoths like KBRÂ have too many friends in Washington, andÂ have become utterly indispensable to Long War operations in the two-front theater.
The corporate war industry — first conceived by Republicans, long acquiesced to by Democrats — now full in its glory. These lawmakers, now twisted in frustration over electrocuted soldiers, have no one to blame but themselves.