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NEIL GORDON – (POGO) – May 24, 2012 – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) wants to know if defense contractor KBR is wasting taxpayer money in an effort to drag out lawsuits seeking to hold KBR accountable for exposing American soldiers to toxic chemicals in Iraq. This week, he sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to find out what steps the Department of Defense is taking to ensure KBR is not taking advantage of taxpayers while unnecessarily prolonging the litigation.
Members of the National Guard were assigned to the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in the early months of the Iraq war to protect KBR employees restoring the plant under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Restore Iraqi Oil (RIO) contract. While stationed there, the soldiers were allegedly exposed to dangerous levels of a highly carcinogenic chemical called hexavalent chromium (the same chemical at the center of the legal battle documented in the movie Erin Brockovich). The soldiers claim KBR was aware of the presence of the chemical but failed to warn or take steps to protect them.
When POGO first blogged about the case almost two years ago, we focused on a classified provision in the contract that requires the government to indemnify KBR for all property damage, injury or death occurring at Qarmat Ali, and all related legal expenses, even if KBR had acted with willful misconduct or lack of good faith. (After much urging from Congress, the Department of Defense finally declassified the provision in December.) As we explained in a follow-up blog post, taxpayers could potentially be on the hook for more than $150 million in damages and legal costs.
(FBI) – January 27, 2012 – HOUSTON – Delmus Eugene Scott, Jr., 34, of Humble, Texas, has pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government money, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Scott was the former custodian of public effects (COPE), which is the equivalent to a postmaster in the United States.
Scott was employed by a contractor of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for providing postal services to U.S. military personnel deployed in Kuwait. Scott’s responsibilities included conducting and reporting financial transactions at the Army Post Office (APO) on a daily basis, to include the procurement and sale of U.S. Postal Service money orders. As the COPE, Scott had full autonomy to order blank money orders directly from the U.S. Postal Service distribution center.
Michael O’Connell – (Federal News Radio) – December 27, 2011 – The drawdown from Iraq is in its final stages. We know how the troops are getting home, but how is all the stuff getting back to the U.S?
“At the height of the drawdown, we were estimating that there were probably about 44,000 containers worth of stuff still in country that needed to come out,” said Twila Gonzales, director of disposition services at Defense Logistics Agency. “We’re talking about a wide variety of a lot of things, from nuts and bolts to MRAPs [mine resistant ambush protected armored fighting vehicles].”
Gonzales joined The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris on Friday to discuss DLA’s role in processing the material coming out of Iraq.
“The military services are responsible for determining how they’re going to get the stuff out of country,” Gonzales said. “The things that they feel that need to come out, the things that were going to be shifted over to the Iraqis and then those things that weren’t worth bringing out and would be taken care of in country.”