Afghanistan Agility/PWC/GCC Army CID* Army Criminal Investigation Command* Blackwater/Xe Burn Pits Cheryl Harris Chromium-6 Commission on Wartime Contracting David Isenberg* DCAA* DLA* DoD* DoDIG* DoJ* DoS* DynCorp* DynCorp CIVPOL* Electrocutions/Shocks Employee Issues-KBR False Claims Act Fluor* GAO Halliburton Hexavalent Chromium Holidays* Human Trafficking Indiana National Guard Iraq Jamie Leigh Jones KBR LAWSUITS Lawsuits Against KBR LOGCAP LOGCAP IV Oregon National Guard Pentagon Personal POGO Qarmat Ali Rape Reports & Investigations SIGIR Sodium Dichromate U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ)
By MARY FLOOD HOUSTON CHRONICLE – Feb. 25, 2010
The U.S. Army is trying to stop retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who once led U.S. forces in Iraq, from continuing to be an expert for KBR in a lawsuit against it over civilian truck driver deaths and injuries.
Sanchez is being paid $650 an hour and has reviewed documents and written a report that support’s KBR’s contention it should not be held legally responsible for the deaths of six civilian truck drivers and the injuries of others in a 2004 ambush in Iraq.
The suing drivers and family members contend that KBR should have stopped the convoys when it was warned that attacks would increase on April 9, 2004, the first anniversary of the day allies in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq reached Baghdad.
KBR argues that the military approved sending the convoys out and several laws protect KBR from responsibility in a wartime situation. The Army contracts with KBR to provide transportation, food services and other logistical support. Read the remainder of this entry »
By Kelly Kennedy – Staff writer – Army Times
Posted : Wednesday Feb 24, 2010 9:43:08 EST
As Veterans Affairs Department officials laid out a plan for the Institute of Medicine to look for links between certain symptoms and burn-pit exposure, they also quizzed Defense Department scientists about what they’ve already done in that regard.
“We have a particular need to solve this as best as we can,” said Victoria Cassano, acting director of VA’s Environmental Agents Service. “You tell us what the science is. You tell us what the evidence is. Do we have enough to [move] forward with a presumption or not?”
At the first meeting of the IOM’s Committee on the Long-Term Health Consequences of Exposure to Burn Pits in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cassano asked the panel to help VA determine if the symptoms of several sick service members could be linked to exposure to smoke from open-air burn pits in the war zones. Read the remainder of this entry »
David Isenberg – Huffington Post
Author, Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq (Praeger Security International)
Posted: February 21, 2010 03:08 PM
These contractors deliver fuel and supplies, construct bases, prepare meals at the DFAC (Dining Facility), clean laundry, provide interpreters, and a host of other unglamorous but vital jobs.
Most of the time they do it very well, under very difficult conditions. Many of their supporters herald this as an unprecedented achievement in American military history. Such a view has long been the sound bite for which Doug Brooks, head of the International Peace Operations Association, a leading industry trade group, is best known for, i.e., “We have the best supported, supplied military in any military operation in history.” Indeed, if you search online for Doug Brooks and that phrase you get 1,400,000 hits.
That is why this article in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week grabbed my attention. It described how numerous returning veterans have reported leukemia, lymphoma, congestive heart problems, neurological conditions, bronchitis, skin rashes and sleep disorders — all of which they attribute to burn pits on dozens of U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Items burned in the pits have included medical waste, plastics, computer parts, oil, lubricants, paint, tires and foam cups, according to soldiers and contractors. Read the remainder of this entry »
Why did Sgt. Thomas die?
By Matthew Hansen – Staff Writer
Omaha World Herald – February 21, 2010
He taught karate and earned his abs in the gym. He had survived a 2007 deployment to Iraq, even thrived during his prolonged stay in the middle of the then-treacherous Sunni Triangle. He rarely drank. He didn’t smoke. Life seemed perfect on this mid-September Thursday, if only his back would stop aching. The 25-year-old Columbus, Neb., native thought he had wrenched it playing soccer. Three months and 10 days later, he died in hospice care.
This much is known: Thomas succumbed to an unstoppable lung cancer that crushed his vertebrae, blitzed his bones and invaded his brain, dumbfounding doctors who had spent their entire careers treating the disease.
His death leaves a medical mystery, one similar to those posed by hundreds of other American military personnel battling exotic cancers or struggling with rare respiratory problems.
This mystery begins in the unlikeliest of places: Iraqi “burn pits” — large, primitive landfills where contractors set trash aflame, causing ever-present black smoke to drift over dozens of U.S. military bases.
Health experts, a high-powered defense lawyer, Congress and even the president have taken notice, asking questions like Klayton Thomas’ parents and doctors asked in the weeks after he fell ill.
Why would an otherwise healthy young nonsmoker contract a cancer that generally haunts older smokers? Why did this cancer spread like wildfire when experts say its normal path can take years?
Simply put: Why did Sgt. Klayton Thomas die?
“We were scared to death when he went to Iraq, scared of a mortar attack, an IED,” said his mother, Connie Thomas of Columbus. “But nothing like this. Not in our wildest dreams.” Read the remainder of this entry »
A range of health problems are linked to the pits on military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Toxic substances have been found in the smoke.
By David Zucchino
Los Angeles Times – February 18, 2010
The noxious smoke plumes that wafted over the military base in Balad, Iraq, alarmed Lt. Col. Michelle Franco. The stench from a huge burn pit clung to her clothing, skin and hair.
“I remember thinking: This doesn’t look good, smell good or taste good,” Franco said recently. “I knew it couldn’t be good for anybody.”
She wheezed and coughed constantly. When Franco returned to the U.S., she was diagnosed with reactive airway dysfunction syndrome. She is no longer able to serve as an Air Force nurse.
Other returning veterans have reported leukemia, lymphoma, congestive heart problems, neurological conditions, bronchitis, skin rashes and sleep disorders — all of which they attribute to burn pits on dozens of U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“The military needs to step up and address this problem,” said John Wilson of the advocacy group Disabled American Veterans, which maintains a registry of more than 500 veterans with disorders they blame on burn pits. The fumes emanating from the pits, he warned, could become the Agent Orange of the current war zone.
Items burned in the pits have included medical waste, plastics, computer parts, oil, lubricants, paint, tires and foam cups, according to soldiers and contractors. Some say amputated body parts from Iraqi patients were burned in Balad, site of a large U.S. military hospital. Read the remainder of this entry »