Monday, March 10, 2008

Halliburton Water Sickens Troops

by Dave McGill
March 09, 2008

According to an Associated Press Report today, "dozens of troops
in Iraq fell sick
" at bases using water supplied by a company that
was, at the time, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

The report went on to say that the soldiers "experienced skin
abscesses, cellulitis, skin infections, diarrhea and other

illnesses." The water, described as being "discolored and smelly,"
was being used for personal hygiene and laundry at three sites run
by the Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc.

Over two years ago, on January 22, 2006, the Boston Globe re-
ported that troops were being provided with water by Halliburton
that had approximately twice the contamination level of untreated
water from the Euphrates River. Raw sewage is pumped into
the Euphrates.

The Globe article said that employees of Halliburton had been
unable to get the company to inform the people living on the bases
of the problem, as revealed by interviews and internal company

In considering the overall extent to which Halliburton and its
subsidiaries have allegedly cheated the U.S. government and,
essentially, our troops in Iraq, the words of Elizabeth Barrett
Browning come to mind - "Let me count the ways."

Over three years ago, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), counted
the ways. The then ranking minority member on the House
Committee on Government Reform released a bulletin notifying
his constituency that government auditors had issued at least nine
reports criticizing Halliburton's Iraq work and that there were
multiple criminal investigations ongoing into overcharging and
kickbacks involving the company's contracts.

Furthermore, while some Halliburton and government employees
attempted to draw attention to the problems, and were
subsequently punished for their good intentions, others, who
committed serious crimes, were apparently protected. Three months
ago, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) said that in addition to the case of Jamie
Lee Jones, who was allegedly gang-raped by her fellow Halliburton
employees, three other women had come forward to claim they were
also sexually assaulted in Iraq while working for Halliburton's then
subsidiary, KBR.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) was also so incensed he sent a letter to
the Justice Dept. concerning the alleged rapes. One of the matters
that upset him was that the Jones evidence, in the form of the initial
rape examination kit, had been given to the victim's employer by the
military doctors and that, as a result, nothing had been done to
prosecute those involved, despite the fact that two years had gone by.

Halliburton's luster was further tarnished by accusations that it has
avoided paying its fair share of taxes and also, that it was actually
moving out of the country - yes, this country - the U.S.A.
Last Thursday, the Boston Globe reported that KBR, Halliburton's
subsidiary until less than a year ago, had avoided paying hundreds
of millions of dollars in federal, Medicare and Social Security taxes
by hiring workers through purely shell companies that occupied
nothing more than post office boxes in the Cayman Islands.

And on 3/12/07, CBS News reported that Halliburton was "shifting
its corporate headquarters and chief executive from Houston to
Dubai," an oil-rich emirate in the eastern Arabian Peninsula.

Halliburton is, of course, the company that Dick Cheney headed
before becoming vice president. Over the past five years
Halliburton's common stock has increased by over 300%.
According to Cheney's previous disclosure forms, he owned
100,000 Halliburton options, worth around $4 million, that
expired at the end of last year and that were presumably
exercised. He also owned over 333,000 options, worth about
$12.6 million, that have yet to expire. He has pledged to donate
the options to charities of his choice but the Congressional
Research Service (CRS) has concluded that even by making such
donations he could realize a substantial windfall. CRS has ruled
that these options do represent a "financial interest," as well as
the deferred payments of approximately $200,000 that the vice
president receives each year from Halliburton.

Of his relationship with Halliburton, CBS News reported way back
on September 26, 2003 that Cheney had said on NBC "I've severed
all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest.
I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't
had, now, for over three years."

A few months later, Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for Cheney, also
announced "Vice President Cheney and his office have had no
involvement whatsoever in government contracting matters since
he left private business to run for vice president."

However, Time magazine, in May of 2004, reported that a
Pentagon e-mail it had uncovered said Cheney's office
"coordinated" a multi-billion dollar Iraq reconstruction
contract awarded to Halliburton.

It is the contention of this column that the mismanagement of
monies and responsibilities in Iraq, and the potential conflicts
of interest therein, have served as a detriment to the conduct of
the war and have had a negative impact on the troops and their
ability to function effectively and safely.
The good news, at least for now, however, is that deaths among
our forces in Iraq have dropped to a very low level.

Last week the Department of Defense released the obituary of
one 24-year-old Air Force Sgt. killed in Iraq when his helicopter
crashed in a sandstorm north of Baghdad.

According to the web site
, total U.S. deaths in Iraq now stand at 3,975, including
one whose family is being notified today.

The Department of Defense also released the obituaries of two
paratroopers, ages 22 and 23, killed in Afghanistan when an
improvised explosive device detonated near them outside a
government building southeast of Kabul.

Total U.S. deaths in Afghanistan were 416 as of March 1,
according to the Pentagon.

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