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KBR Secret Indemnity Agreement Signed By Army Chief Tainted In Enron Scandal

Army Secretary Thomas E. White signed an agreement giving legal indemnity to KBR in 2003. (AFP PHOTO by Luke Frazza)

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.

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KBR May Be Abusing Indemnification Provision in Iraq Contract

KBR's expert witness Barbara D. Beck, Ph.D., DABT taking a "billable" nap. Beck is testifying (or should I say napping) on behalf of KBR in the National Guard chemical exposure case at Qarmat Ali in Iraq. Beck also testified in opposition to efforts to ban lead in kids toys.

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.

Taxpayers foot the bill for KBR attorneys at $750 per hour plus other outrageous perks

Wyden: KBR is Wasting Taxpayer Money While Avoiding Responsibility for Exposure of Oregon Guard to Toxic Chemicals

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Washington, D.C. – In a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) called on the DoD to investigate the excessive expenses racked up by the legal team of Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) – a defense contractor that operated in Iraq with the contractual ability to pass all of their legal costs to American taxpayers. A lawsuit against KBR brought by a group of Oregon National Guard members assigned to provide security for KBR personnel claims that KBR management knew that the soldiers were being exposed to toxic chemicals while working at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant. Read the remainder of this entry »

Blood Money

War profiteering has never been so profitable for the wrongdoer and so dangerous for our troops and the taxpayer.  Please sign my petition (SIGN HERE)

More than 200 soldiers are suing KBR for knowingly exposing them to toxic chemicals in Iraq, whose effects started with nose bleeds and could end with cancer. KBR says that didn’t happen. But even if it did, the company isn’t responsible. Taxpayers are.

Craig Malisow – (Houston Press) – February 15, 2012

Basra, Iraq: July, 2003
Oregon National Guardsman Larry Roberta says he went to Iraq fit, and came back barely able to breathe.
Oregon National Guardsman Larry Roberta says he went to Iraq fit, and came back barely able to breathe.
Larry Roberta, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard, sat on a stack of sacks brimming with one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to man and chomped on his chicken patty.

Unsuccessful in his mission to swap his rations with any of the British soldiers, who were stocked with heavenly corned beef hash and chocolate pudding, he braved the mystery meat’s gooey coating while keeping an eye on the contractors’ trailer a few yards away. While the Kellogg Brown & Root guys ate inside the trailer, Roberta could’ve taken lunch in one of the vehicles, but he figured vehicles were prime targets for any insurgents or Saddam loyalists who might be scouring the area. Better to suffer the hundred-plus-degree heat.

Defense Department Inspector General says KBR and the military failed to respond quickly to health risks posed to Oregon soldiers

Sodium dichromate has been linked a range of illnesses

…Minutes of a June 14-15 meeting between TF RIO, KBR, and Iraqi State Company for Oil Projects representatives noted that “chemical treatment should [be] selected based on widely available nontoxic commodity chemicals.” However, e-mails between KBR personnel in late June indicated a decision from corporate headquarters in Houston to keep using “chromate” and other chemicals used previously. Three TF RIO witnesses we interviewed supported the conclusion that sodium dichromate was not used at Qarmat Ali after TF RIO and KBR personnel arrived… ~ Part II – Exposure to Sodium Dichromate at Qarmat Ali Iraq in 2003

Mike Francis – (The Oregonian) – September 28, 2011 – The Defense Department and contractor Kellogg, Brown & Root failed to act as quickly as they should have to protect those exposed to a carcinogenic chemical at an Iraqi water treatment plant in 2003, according to a report Wednesday by the Defense Department’s Inspector General.

The report was hailed as a victory for Oregon soldiers by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who was one of a group of senators who sought the IG’s evaluation, and by Oregon National Guard troops who are among those suing KBR. They accuse the contractor of knowingly exposing them to sodium dichromate, an anticorrosive compound that can cause skin and breathing problems and cancer. Read the remainder of this entry »