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Casey pushes crackdown on government contractors
By Robin Acton
Saturday, October 3, 2009
One month after the latest electrocution in Iraq, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has proposed an amendment to a defense appropriations bill that would hold government contractors accountable for the safety of overseas military personnel and civilians working abroad.
The legislation would close a loophole that allowed shoddy electrical work and other problems on American military bases to go uncorrected, the Scranton Democrat said. It would require the Department of Defense to review contracts to ensure they include language requiring contractors to immediately correct deficiencies, such as improperly grounded facilities or equipment, that could cause death or serious injury.
Casey’s amendment also seeks to ensure safe and sanitary water systems, and establish and enforce strict standards for preventing and prosecuting instances of sexual assault.
He has been an outspoken critic of the government’s defense contracting procedures since the Jan. 2, 2008, electrocution of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, of Shaler. The Green Beret collapsed and died when a rooftop pump shorted out and sent a lethal electrical current along water running through metal pipes into his shower in the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Iraq.
Maseth is among 10 service members and civilian contractors in Iraq who died from electrocutions that could have been prevented, according to Casey.
The most recent occurred Sept. 1 when Adam Hermanson, 25, of Muncy collapsed and died in his shower at Camp Olympia inside Baghdad’s Green Zone. The Air Force veteran, who completed four tours of duty in Iraq, was working as a civilian contractor for Triple Canopy Security Service.
“We’ve had lots of investigation and lots of reviews, but, in my judgment, not enough in the way of answers,” Casey said. He said the Defense and State departments are obligated to provide families with answers about how the electrocutions continue to happen.
Maseth’s parents, Cheryl Harris and Douglas Maseth, filed suit in federal court against defense contractor KBR Inc., alleging shoddy electrical work killed their son. KBR denies responsibility for the soldier’s death, which brought national attention to the electrocution issue and prompted government inspections of facilities military personnel use.
Hermanson’s widow, Janine, said she does not know much about her husband’s living quarters or what he was doing in connection with the war effort because he was not permitted to talk about it. The dental assistant, who is staying with her parents in Muncy, said she learned about his death when she got a phone call at work.
“When he didn’t show up for work, they got worried, and a co-worker went to check on him. He was found in his room in the shower,” she said.
She described her husband as a strong, family-oriented man who did everything he could for his family and friends. They met while serving in the Air Force as they were preparing for deployment to Iraq and would have celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary five days after his death, she said.
“I never had to worry about anything when he was around,” she said, her voice cracking with emotion. (click HERE for original article)
I ‘ve said this before, but I am going to say it again…..”WHAT THE HELL!” I am disturbed there has be been a law passed to enforce a DoD contactor to produce potable drinking water. I can hear KBR now. “You said make water!! You didn’t say it had to be drinkable!! Now make sure we get those 100’s of millions in award fees!!” What the hell!!! DoD you are freakin’ FIRED!!
And as for sexual and other assaults….”You must now prevent and prosecute those!” No more LaVena Johnson’s out there. Is the Army CID actually going to have to investigate and recommend charges against someone who rapes and or assaults someone else.
You can bet you bottom dollar the attorney’s for KBR, Fluor (aka KBR east), Dyncorp and other DoD contractors are scanning this bill to see how they can get out of having to do what they are contracted to do……and still get paid!
There were a whole lot of “I don’t knows” going on yesterday July 30, 2008. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform conducted a hearing on “Deficient Electrical Systems at U.S. Facilities In Iraq”. The following people testified before the committee.
- U.S. Senator Bob Casey, (D-PA)
- Gordon S. Heddell, Acting Inspector General, U.S. Department of Defense
- Don Horstman, Deputy Inspector General for Policy and Oversight, U.S. Department of Defense
- Charlie E. Williams, Jr., Director, Defense Contract Management Agency
- Keith Ernst, Former Director, Defense Contract Management Agency
- Jeffrey P. Parsons, Executive Director, Army Contracting Command, U.S. Army
- Tom Bruni, Theater Engineering and Construction Manager, KBR, Inc.
I spent most of last night watching the Hearing video and going over the supporting documents. All I can say is…..what the hell??? There is so much material I can’t possibly put it all my my website. Do yourself a favor and go to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform website and if you do nothing more…..download the video… and watch it. You will be rewarded for your patience when at the end of the video…Tom Bruni, Theater Engineering and Construction Manager for KBR, Inc. blames the Army. I hope I didn’t ruin the movie for you. Click HERE for video. (I have to find a new video link this one no longer works) Read the remainder of this entry »
I have been listening to and reading the news about this hearing. I know the news media can only print so much, but they are leaving out many important details. So I am posting the testimony of each person that testified. I want to make sure you know the truth about what was said before the rumors start. If you have any questions feel free to email me. When and if a final transcript is available, I will post that as well.
All witnesses were asked to be at the Dirksen Senate Office Building at 9am on Friday. When I got there the hearing room was relatively empty and non threatening, similar to an empty court room. At 9am the witnesses were ushered into a conference room and briefed by DPC staff members.
The witnesses for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) Hearing “Contractor Misconduct and the Electrocution Deaths of American Soldiers in Iraq” are: Read the remainder of this entry »
Senator Bob Casey from Pennsylvania just released this statement:
I am deeply troubled to learn that now thirteen Americans have lost their lives in this manner. One death by electrocution is too many; the Department of Defense has an obligation to ensure that no future electrocutions occur on U.S. military installations in Iraq.
Not only that but:
Senator Casey also has learned that the Pentagon has ordered KBR to conduct theater-wide inspections of all maintained facilities to ensure that similar problems do not appear elsewhere.
Now what is wrong with this picture? KBR is inspecting their own areas of responsibility. Where is the independent oversight? How can we be certain the inspections are actually being done. How can we be certain the inspections are adequate and accurate? Will KBR report anything that makes them look less than favorable? I am deeply concerned about this!!
Click HERE to read Senator Casey’s original press release.