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 documents. 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 http://www.icasualties.org/ , 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.
Born and raised in mid-western Chicago, a product of a religious, hard working middle class family. He wanted to become a Medical Doctor in order to fulfill a promise to his grandmother, Mrs Margaret “Margie” Holiday. His life’s dream of being a Naval Doctor was de-railed and side-tracked during his 364 days in the Republic of Vietnam from 1966 to 1967.
As a U.S. Marine Corps Field Medical Corpsman (HM3)he served with pride and distinction, receiving a field promotion and a Purple Heart while ‘in country’. He participated in 11 major offensive combat operations in 1967.
He States; "As A teenage US Marine Corps Corpsman, I left the U.S. for a tour in Southeast Asia in 1966. Those 364 days in Vietnam forever changed My life. Forty years later, at age sixty, I am still fighting... through depression, nightmares, anger and recurring flashbacks with intrusive thoughts. Writing this book has afforded me some degree sanity, with narrow rays of hope, as I continue to struggle with my inner demons. Because, “I can still hear their cries, even in my sleep.”