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American Servicemen Dying From Shoddy Reconstruction Work In Iraq

Shortly after the 2003 Iraq War began, most Americans had hoped that questionable deals such as Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton getting a lucrative no-bidder contract for Iraq reconstruction the Pentagon would be the very worst of the questionable reconstruction deals. But then a steady drip-drip of information about shoddy reconstruction work by a number of American firms who were given reconstruction contracts began to surface in the news including leaking substandard plumbing in a major office building that made it nearly useless and it only sat empty after taxpayers paid top dollar for work that an American contractor did using the cheapest possible labor and materials.

Now shocking news that a total of 16 U.S. service persons have been killed by shoddy and dangerous electrical work in Iraq has emerged under testimony to the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

Debbie Crawford testified about her experiences working as an electrical supervisor in Iraq for contractor KBR (Kellogg, Brown and Root a now separate entity of Halliburton), and the shocking conditions that existed with some contractors who sought to cut corners with labor or materials in order to pocket the difference. In some cases, green wires that were supposed to be ground wires were used as hot leads for some electrical work, creating a hazard that would either destroy expensive electrical equipment or could case electrocution deaths and fires.

Crawford was so concerned about the shoddy and dangerous state of some of the work done by KBR that she started a website www.mssparky.com that educates the public on how billions of their tax dollars are being misspent with Iraq War contractors that are doing extremely substandard and dangerous work and pocketing much of the money that is supposed to go into higher quality labor or materials. It is indeed an important website and another bad side of the Iraq War that the mainstream media seems to often ignore. It is also important because 16 service persons have needlessly lost their lives to shoddy reconstruction work electrocution deaths.

Crummy reconstruction companies with multi-billion dollar contracts since the start of the 2003 Iraq War have proven just as lethal as some insurgents to some of our U.S. service persons.

Senator Bryon Dorgan (D-ND) has taken note of Crawford's website and was instrumental in scheduling testimony from her and starting a process of cracking down on some of these lethal Iraq War reconstruction contractors and saving American lives as well as looking out for the taxpayer who is paying billions for terrible quality work that is often overinflated in price and substandard in safety and materials.

Some Iraq War contractors think that operating outside of the U.S. means that safety standards can be ignored and they can inflate the costs of some projects as long as the taxpayer is paying the bill. With no OSHA, few permits or safety inspections operating in Iraq, it is often anything goes in reconstruction quality for many American contractors looking to pad profits with no one looking over their shoulder.

It is also the same old bunch of large GOP donors who were given these huge contracts by the Pentagon and who were big supporters of Bush and now are concerned with elected McCain. McCain claims to be a reformer, yet much of the same old crowd are right in the pocket of his campaign. It's business as usual over at the McCain Campaign.

John McCain, who claims to be a "reformer" has only so far claimed that his campaign will "review" bundled donations from such long time GOP supporters, or Halliburton and it's spinoff KBR subsidiary, or other large firms. Whether this is real commitment to not accept donations from some corporations that some claim to have taken advantage of the Iraq War with rampant profiteering and who endanger American lives with crummy work certainly remains to be seen. It will be another test of McCain's word, which hasn't been real good so far.

Another bad example of business as usual was just on August 7, a Queen's NY couple with only modest jobs and driving a 1993 Chevy Cavalier made a questionably large donation to the McCain campaign of $61,600 which is probably far more than their total yearly income combined. It all raises the question whether big corporate donors aren't using people of modest means to shield their identity to help elect McCain and drive his policies to keep more of the same old government in the White House and the huge wasteful inside deal contracts coming.

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Comments (2)


Paul, I'm no big fan of KBR, having seen their work close up, but I'd love some links or references to your allegations.

Strange sources of donations occur on both sides. Are you willing to take Obama to task for them too? Personally I think they are all crooks.

Epador, I'm certainly in favor of any new election rules that clearly ban big donors from using persons of limited means to shield their large donations.

Hillary Clinton ran into the same sort of a problems with a Chinese businessman some months back who was shielding his donations and I believe that she gave back the donations related to this donor and tightened up her campaign's rules on accepting donations.

The Obama Campaign has had the strictest donation rules so far of any campaign though, which does prove that compared to any campaign this year that he has taken the reformer role the most seriously though which is one of the reasons that I personally like him. McCain talks the "reform" game, but then loads his top campaign management up with lobbyists and now gets this big questionable donation according to public records. It's time for McCain to step up and take sides. Is he a "reformer" as he claims or just using the term in a cynical manner as a voter lure?

Politics is supposed to be about public service, unfortunately when big donors attempt to create an oligarchy government that only looks out for their interests, then the whole system becomes perverted. I find this all very disappointing myself. My best guess is that big interests buy John McCain into power and it's all just business as usual back in Washington. Oh sure, McCain will find an example of some bad program or proposal to attack here or there, but it's all window dressing for allowing 1000 other bad proposals or spending measures through.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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