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Nov 25th, 2008

Contractor for Military Committed Serious Violations

Ryan Maseth, a 24-year-old Green Beret, died in his shower January 2.
Army Green Beret Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, 24

By Abbie Boudreau and Scott Bronstein
CNN Special Investigations Unit

Nov. 24, 2008

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A contractor providing services to the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan has committed serious violations of its contract, mainly by conducting inadequate inspections of electrical wiring and grounding at American bases, according to Pentagon sources.

The Pentagon findings on Houston, Texas-based KBR stem from the widely publicized death of Sgt. Ryan Maseth, a highly decorated 24-year-old Green Beret from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Maseth was electrocuted while taking a shower at his base in Baghdad.

His January 2 [2008] death was just one of many deaths now believed to be linked to shoddy electrical work done at U.S. bases, managed by U.S. contractors, according to Pentagon sources.

The Pentagon’s Defense Contract Management Agency recently gave KBR a “Level III Corrective Action Request” — issued only when a contractor is found in “serious noncompliance” and just one step below the possibility of suspending or terminating a contract, Pentagon officials said.

In KBR’s case, it means that the contractor’s inspections and efforts to ensure electrical safety for troops have been unacceptable, and must be significantly improved, Pentagon sources told CNN.

Just after Maseth’s electrocution, Pentagon officials estimated that about a dozen troops had been electrocuted in Iraq. But Pentagon officials now say at least 18 troops have been electrocuted since 2003 — many due to faulty wiring and improper grounding.

The number could be higher than that when Afghanistan is included, say congressional sources.

“I can’t make sense around Ryan’s death, that he died like that, that he was so trained. So highly trained to survive,” said Maseth’s mother, Cheryl Harris, in an interview earlier this year. “It just feels so surreal. It’s so painful to think about how he died.”

Largely because of Harris’ efforts to demand answers about her son’s death, the U.S. Senate and House have held oversight hearings in recent months in hopes of finding out how the electrocutions occurred.

“The fact that there’s an assessment made at this level — a level three — which is very serious, indicates to me, and to a lot of people, how serious this problem is,” said Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pennsylvania.

“It’s really a question in the end about justice. The only way we can have justice in a case like this for the families and for the American people is to have serious accountability. That has not happened yet. There’s still a lot of parties here that have not been held to account for what happened here,” Casey said. […]

Since CNN first reported the story about Maseth’s death last spring, the network has repeatedly asked the Pentagon and its contract agency for an interview. They have never agreed to an interview to answer questions about Maseth’s death or other similar cases. […]

There are at least two lawsuits now against KBR, including one by Maseth’s family, and they are trying to determine precisely what role, if any, KBR played in the specific circumstances that led to those deaths.

“I want KBR to be exposed. More than anything, I just want them to step up and take care of what they’re being paid to take care of, and to do the work that they are contracted to do. More than anything, let’s put the security and the safety of our troops first,” Harris said.

Video Watch Ryan Maseth’s mother discuss the case »

Pentagon officials told CNN that KBR’s initial corrective efforts have not been sufficient. KBR will now have to come up with a corrective plan that is acceptable to the Pentagon. The company could still receive fines or penalties.

So far, the company has not been held responsible in any of the deaths. The company has denied liability in the lawsuits.


Related Reports

Shocked but silent?

Wiring warning came months before soldier electrocuted


Related reports on this site

Showers Put Troops in Harm’s Way (March 26, 2009)

Electric Sacrifice in Iraq (Feb. 8, 2009)



Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Nov. 24, 2009, as reported by Reuters.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb killed one man and wounded five other people, including three policemen, when it struck their patrol in Karrada district in central Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb killed 13 female employees of the Trade Ministry and wounded seven others, including some women, when it blew up their bus in the district of New Baghdad, eastern Baghdad, police said.

BAGHDAD – A female suicide bomber killed at least five people and wounded 12 others at a checkpoint by the entrance to the heavily-fortified Green Zone diplomatic compound in central Baghdad, police said.

KIRKUK – Gunmen killed a lawyer in a drive-by shooting in central Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

5 Responses to “Shoddy Contracting Kills Troops”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Electric Sacrifice in Iraq Says:

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  5. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Electric Sacrifice in Iraq Says:

    […] Shoddy Contracting Kills Troops (Nov. 25, 2008) […]

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