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If you were watching Countdown tonight, you saw Keith Olbermann in his "Bushed" segment report that at least 12 service members have been electrocuted in Iraq due to faulty wiring at facilities maintained by Halliburton spinoff company KBR. As appalling as that is, the details are even worse.

I was so outraged after the story that I did a quick check and found this March 19 story in the Houston Chronicle. Read it all for yourself; I'll simply hit the high (or low) points:

The investigation was prompted by the death of Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, 24, of Pennsylvania, who was electrocuted Jan. 2 while taking a shower in his living quarters in the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad.

Initially, Maseth's mother, Cheryl Harris, was told her son — serving in the Army's Special Forces — had a small, electrical appliance with him in the shower.
Maseth, according to a memorandum written by Army investigators and obtained by the Chronicle, was living in a building that had been refurbished by local Iraqis.

The investigation referenced is by Henry Waxman's committee--an investigation that of course would never happen if the Republicans still controlled Congress. As you see in the story, these electrocutions go back to at least 2004.

It gets worse. Here's the money quote--literally.

KBR's contract, the memo said, "only required KBR to fix the building (plumbing and electricity) as things broke. KBR did an initial survey of the building upon assuming responsibility and noted several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices.

"The contract did not cover fixing potential hazards so those issues were never addressed," the memo said.

Yes, you read that right. KBR failed to remedy conditions hazardous to our fighting men and women because doing so would have negatively impacted their bottom line.

Update: Thanks for putting this diary on the rec list. Credit should go to Olbermann for breaking this story--I just filled in some details. I was just so outraged after seeing the story that I wanted to spread it further.

Here's more:

Houston Chronicle and New York Times stories from March 20

Maseth's entry in the Washington Post Faces of the Fallen series

Associated Press stories as published January 8 in Military Times and March 20 in Washington Post

Huffington Post entry by Greg Mitchell, author of So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits--and the President--Failed on Iraq, who's been on this story from the beginning

IGTNT diary by monkeybiz

Pray for our troops--with Bush in charge, they need all the help they can get.

Originally posted to laviolet on Fri Mar 21, 2008 at 06:06 PM PDT.

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