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Ryan J. Reilly – (Huffington Post) – Washington – January 24, 2013 – The Army official who signed a secret agreement that military contractor KBR claims should burden taxpayers with the bill for the company’s negligent poisoning of U.S. soldiers in Iraq resigned from the military in 2003 after a tenure marked by questions about his ties to Enron Corp.
Thomas E. White, named secretary of the Army in 2001, signed an indemnity agreement protecting KBR, the military’s largest contractor, from legal liability on March 19, 2003. KBR had asked for the agreement as part of its contract to rebuild Iraq oilfields destroyed in the U.S. invasion. White resigned a month later, on April 23, under fire for his previous role as a senior Enron executive and after clashing with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over his advocacy for a multi-billion dollar artillery system.
Neil Gordon – (POGO) – January 11, 2013 – Mark Thompson posted an interesting federal contracting-related tidbit Tuesday on TIME’s national security blog, Battleland. He looked at a list of recent Department of Defense contract awards and noticed that many of them had received only one bid.
Of the 35 contracts in the list that Thompson reviewed, 20 of them, worth a combined $257 million, either solicited or received just a single bid. On many of them, including contracts awarded to big players such as Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), General Dynamics, Raytheon, and BAE Systems , the government solicited only one bid. Federal agencies are required to award contracts on the basis of full and open competition but are permitted to award non-competitive contracts in certain situations. The U.S. Army awarded 19 of the 20 contracts, which makes us wonder if the Army is perhaps taking its old “Army of One” slogan a bit too literally when it comes to contracting.
Doyle said the agreement may mean a taxpayer “bailout” for KBR. “It’s basically saying that no matter if we’re guilty of — willful misconduct, poisoning soldiers — taxpayers have to pay to cover us as well as whatever we decide to pay on lawyers at whatever rates and all these fees,” Doyle said. “That’s a pretty good bailout.” ~Huffington Post
Greta McClain – January 9, 2013 -Portland – After being found guilty of negligence in the poisoning of at least a dozen US soldiers deployed in Iraq, KBR is insisting that US tax payers foot the bill for damages.
In November of 2012, an Oregon Federal Court awarded $85 million to twelve Oregon National Guard members who stated they were exposed to a known carcinogen at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in Iraq in 2003. The National Guard soldiers were stationed at the facility to guard against attack from insurgents.
And in typical KBR fashion, the next step after the verdict was rendered was not one of accepting responsibility, finally, but instead continue blame avoidance and misdirection. KBR struck out against the trial judge for the temerity of even permitting a public trial of KBR’s actions, the jurors for not baldly accepting KBR’s version of the facts, and our firm and clients. Not once did the company ever own up to their mistakes. Without the slightest legitimate basis for impugning the trial court or the jurors, KBR instead demanded an exception from the court’s rules for juror protection, insisting on an unsupervised “interview” by its lawyers or trial consultant of each juror to find out why such a verdict was placed in the soldiers favor. The judge rejected this demand, finding that it was unsupported and unjustified. ~By Doyle Raizner
A Q&A with KBR’s vice president for litigation, Mark Lowes
Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – January 5, 2013 – When a federal jury in November awarded $85 million to 12 Oregon National Guard soldiers and veterans who sued defense contractor KBR Inc. in court in Portland, it marked a first step in what is sure to prove a very long course toward legal resolution.