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We haven’t forgotten you Ryan!

SSG Ryan Maseth was electrocuted and died in his shower in Baghdad, Iraq on January 2, 2008. R.I.P. Ryan. ~Ms Sparky

Ryan we haven’t forgotten you

SSG Ryan Maseth was electrocuted in his shower in Baghdad and died January 2, 2008

The war in Iraq is all but over and our troops have pulled out.  It’s been four years today since 24 year old  SSG Ryan Maseth was electrocuted and died while showering in his living quarters at Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad. Ryan’s courageous mother, Cheryl Harris continues to fight, not only for the rights of her son, but for the safety of soldiers everywhere.

Cheryl filed suit against KBR for the death of her son. Although this suit drags on in the US courts at an agonizingly slow pace.  KBR has pulled out all the stops in attempts to have this case dismissed in US courts, but much to KBR’s dismay, it hasn’t.

I will write every year I’m able to remind people of Ryan’s death, the product of corporate greed and corruption, and heroes like Cheryl Harris. We need more heroes like Cheryl!

You can read more on Cheryl’s case against KBR at Cheryl Harris vs KBR.

Below are links to past posts I’ve written and published on the anniversary of Ryan’s death.

SSG Ryan Maseth – You must be very proud! (2009)
Does anyone know what day this is? (2010)
3rd anniversary of the electrocution death of SSG Ryan Maseth (2011)

Cheryl, I pray the next post I publish about Ryan is how you succeeded in holding KBR accountable for his senseless death!

Ms Sparky

Scandal in Mistreatment of Silent Service Members

Scott J. Bloch – September 28, 2011 – I like representing heroes. I did it in the federal government, helping whistleblowers who were taking it on the chin for protecting us. One of the more rewarding things I had the privilege of doing in government as U.S. Special Counsel was protecting the jobs of heroes returning from National Guard or reserve duty under USERRA. Now back in private practice, I have been privileged to protect the rights of our silent service members – private contractors who work in Iraq and Afghanistan and Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

While about 150,000 troops from America have served in Afghanistan and Iraq at any given time over the last few years, we don’t hear much about the 200,000 private contractors, about 100,000 from America, the rest from England, South Africa, Australia and other countries such as Kuwait, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, South America, Uganda and so on. There have been several thousand deaths among these contractors, and over 50,000 injuries, some catastrophic, some psychological, sometimes both.

Many of them are decorated veterans of the two current wars, Operation Desert Storm, the Bosnian conflict, or Vietnam, some with purple hearts, silver and bronze stars and other combat medals and awards. Many have been in the special forces of their countries’ armed services. They believe in helping America fight terrorists and defend freedom. They have placed their lives on the line as security personnel, carrying guns, or as combat drivers, as firefighters on bases where they are attacked, bombarded by mortar fire, shot at, and subjected to extremes of war and heat, during long work days usually seven days a week. These are not“mercenaries,” with all of the negative connotations contained in the word. They are patriots.

Many of these ordinary heroes have suffered physical and mental injuries, including having their limbs blown off, contracting brain injuries from concussion blasts of roadside bombs, or severe post traumatic stress disorder from being subjected to horrifying scenes of dismemberment, death, and threats of same every day. What has the American government done for them, and what have the insurance companies being paid billions done for these men and women?

Judge says American defense contractor can sue Rumsfeld personally over torture allegations (Updated 08/10/2011)

Donald Rumsfeld

Here is a link to U.S. District  Judge James S. Gwin’s  ruling  Opinion (PDF)

Here is a link to the Circuit Court’s ruling  and article on Nathan Ertel and Donald Vance’s case.  They worked for Shield Group Security when the alleged incident happened.

Nedra Pickler – Associated Press – WASHINGTON – Aug 3, 2011 – A federal judge has ruled that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld can be sued personally for damages by a former U.S. military contractor who says he was tortured during a nine-month imprisonment in Iraq.

The lawsuit lays out a dramatic tale of the disappearance of the then-civilian contractor, an Army veteran in his 50s whose identity is being withheld from court filings for fear of retaliation. Attorneys for the man, who speaks five languages and worked as a translator for Marines collecting intelligence in Iraq, say he was preparing to come home to the United States on annual leave when he was abducted by the U.S. military and held without justification while his family knew nothing about his whereabouts or even whether he was still alive.

The government says he was suspected of helping pass classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces get into Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime, and he says he never broke the law and was risking his life to help his country.

Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused while being held at Camp Cropper, a U.S. military facility near the Baghdad airport dedicated to holding “high-value” detainees, then suddenly released without explanation in August 2006. Two years later, he filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to courts in violation of his constitutional rights.

Chicago attorney Mike Kanovitz, who is representing the plaintiff, says it appears the military wanted to keep his client behind bars so he couldn’t tell anyone about an important contact he made with a leading sheik while helping collect intelligence in Iraq.

“The U.S. government wasn’t ready for the rest of the world to know about it, so they basically put him on ice,” Kanovitz said in a telephone interview. “If you’ve got unchecked power over the citizens, why not use it?”

Read the remainder of this entry »

Sad day in appellate court for Mr. Smiley

Court Upholds Firing of ‘Touchy/Feely’ Supervisor
TIM HULL  – (CN) – October 14, 2010 – The Federal Circuit upheld the firing of a Defense Department supervisor who argued that his sexual remarks and uninvited physical contact with women were “harmlessly amorous” and stemmed from his decade-long immersion in Italy’s “touchy/feely” culture.

The Defense Logistics Agency fired Thyrman Smiley from his supervisory position in Pennsylvania in 2009. According to the ruling, female employees claimed that he had “inappropriate uninvited physical contact with them and that he had, over a course of time, made numerous sexual comments referring to the physical assets of the women and revealing [his] considerable sexual appetite and his desire to share that appetite with the women.”

The Merit Systems Protection Board affirmed the firing after an investigation “unearthed detailed recollections from the women in question recounting the occasions on which Mr. Smiley had made unwanted physical contact or directed sexual comments to them,” the ruling states.

In his defense, Smiley, who described himself in his brief as “charismatic, likeable, hard working, [and] harmlessly amorous,” argued that he “should have been given credit for an ‘unusual’ mitigating circumstance, which was the fact that he had lived and worked for 10 years in Italy, where it was customary for people to be ‘touchy/feely’ with each other.”

Smiley also claimed that the agency had coerced employees into portraying him as a “monster,” pointing to statements made by other employees that “they had never heard Mr. Smiley make any sexual statements.”

The panel was unconvinced, however, and upheld the board’s decision.

“At the end of the day, the deciding official concluded that the nature of the offenses, his lack of trust in Mr. Smiley’s ability to act as a supervisor, and Mr. Smiley’s slim chance for rehabilitation counseled in favor of removal as the appropriate penalty,” the three-judge panel concluded.

“The testimony of the women involved … belies his claim to being harmlessly amorous, and the record is devoid of evidence to support a charge that the agency coerced anyone to testify against him.”  (Click HERE for original article)