Saturday, May 16, 2009

Carrying Water for KBR

TomB over at They Gave Us a Republic just linked to a story that I'm amazed hasn't gotten more play in the news or the blogosphere. And if this story doesn't give us liberals the ultimate argument as to the evils of unrestricted, unrestrained, unregulated capitalism, then nothing will.

Here's TomB's source material for this story about our soldiers in Iraq who had to, get this, ration and even steal water in order to survive. Those of you in the know will remember that former Halliburton subsidiary KBR was responsible for giving our troops potable drinking water.

KBR, among its other evils, also electrocuted at least two of our soldiers to death while they were taking showers and didn't set up water decontamination stations so our troops were also drinking contaminated water directly from the Euphrates. Halliburton, for good measure, also got a huge contract to feed our men and women and much of the food was inedible and even riddled with bacteria.

But this latest revelation to come out of Iraq just defies belief. It was revealed by former Staff Sergeant Dustin Robey, and he had some pretty incredible stories to tell CBS affiliate KHOU in Houston, Texas.

Among them:
  • Our troops had to get water they could find from Iraqi water faucets.

  • Some troops vomited and suffered other symptoms of dehydration.

  • When SS Robey complained they didn't have water, he was told to find some. They found it, at a storage facility of a private contractor who was supposed to disburse entire palettes of bottled water to our troops yet hadn't been.

  • SS Robey claims to have passed hundreds of kidney stones since his return from Iraq, another symptom of dehydration.

  • The "water" that came out of the US military water taps was a yellowish, foul-smelling liquid.

  • This is beyond heinous, beyond inexcusable. While we've been tamping down the throats of companies like KBR and Halliburton countless billions in cost-plus, no bid contracts, they are so obsessed with profits that they cannot even give our brave men and women an elemental necessity such as adequate drinking water. A former KBR engineer, Ben Carter, who'd come forward years ago reported to KHOU that the taps were spewing out "untreated wastewater", a slight euphemism for sewage.

    Meanwhile, one Congress after another, including the last two that have been led by Democrats, have not launched one single investigation or made a major move toward establishing some Congressional oversight over corporations such as KBR. When the allegations of the foul drinking water first came out, KBR smugly pointed to a Pentagon Inspector General Report that said, "KBR has (since) satisfied applicable water standards," and that "the DoD has not found any illness which it attributes to water in Iraq."

    Try to remember who the DoD Inspector General was back then and you'll begin to see why no incriminating findings were ever discovered.

    Senator Byron Dorgan, after meeting with Pentagon officials and KBR executives about the allegations of untreated, untested water from former KBR employees, said afterwards, "Instead of the Pentagon taking the attitude that these are serious charges, they acted like this was part of the buddy system. (KBR and the Pentagon acted as if) there was nothing going on here. We now know they were both in a position to know what they were saying publicly was wrong. KBR was not doing its job. Our troops were provided with water that didn't meet Army standards."

    It's obvious by now that the Pentagon is merely the hired muscle that protects the interests of corporate war profiteers. We saw that during the David Brooks/DHB Dragonskin armor clusterfuck, in which the Pentagon threatened to strip dead soldiers and their families of SGLI death benefits if they were literally caught dead wearing anything but Brooks' crappy body armor.

    Much closer to home, we saw much the same thing in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, with precious water and ice on Wal-Mart trucks being diverted by FEMA from where it was needed to where it was needed less while George W. Bush pretended to care about black people by offering food and water when they really needed clothes.

    If any wingnut tells you you're unAmerican and unpatriotic because you're criticizing Bush or Cheney or torture or indefinite incarceration or the Iraq War in general, if they ever accuse you of not supporting the troops, then tell them this story and tell them the party they're standing up for is responsible for this. KBR was a subsidiary of a Cheney company and Cheney and the rest of that pack of upholstered jackals silently stood by while our troops were parched and reduced to thievery.

    A tragic postscript to this story is that SS Robey, after suffering from kidney stones, was discharged by the Army for medical reasons. After his discharge, they fell behind on their mortgage and now face foreclosure.


    At May 17, 2009 at 2:07 PM, Blogger Bukko_in_Australia said...

    All the facts in the world won't do a damn thing to change anybody's mind. When you tell a right-winger anything bad about the state of American affairs (unless it's how Obama's an Islamogaysocialist) they refuse to believe it.

    I use my crustaceo-Republican mom as a barometer for that mindset. She swears she does not listen to Limpballs and the like on Reichwing radio, and I believe her on that. But somehow that ideology sinks into her increasingly foggy brain. She alluded once as to how she's getting the Washington Times delivered, and she watches the Fox free-to-air station out of D.C., but she doesn't have cable so that she could watch the REAL Fux "News."

    Because I believe in telling people the truth, and also because I'm a bit of a bastard, I toss stories like this in her face from time to time when I Skype her. The response basically boils down to "I don't believe you. Yes, I know you can cite the exact publications and authors and dates of articles that have research and quotes and specifics. But that's just your opinion. I don't have any facts to refute the details you just gave me, sonny, and when you ask me why I believe what I believe, I can't explain. But I have my opinion. And it's every bit as valid as yours."

    About half the time, it winds up with me in the role of prosecutor, relentlessly cross-examining her, pounding with question after question, making her squirm. It's not about unresolved teenage anger. At least I think not.

    It's just that I fucking hate right-wingers so much, and my mom is the only one of them who I can pin to the wall verbally. I don't meet many reichys in real life, especially not down here, so I've got all this venom stored up. I shouldn't rub her face in her wrongness, because it's like picking on a cripple. She wasn't always so bad politically, but the closer she gets to the grave, the more reactionary she's chosen to be.

    I know when I started writing this, I had some point that I wanted to make in response to your most excellent blog post. Then it wandered off into Bukko's familial psychodrama. I'm on my last midnight shift of this fortnight, and I'm aggro from sleep deprivation. It brings out the maniac in me. It also gives me insight into why my mom hasn't sent anything for my birthday.

    Anyway, if you haven't seen it, here's an interesting tidbit from an obscure Arab publication which talked to Sy Hersh about Dick Cheney's death squads. (H/T to your former blogpartner for unearthing it.) Hersh mentions how SEALs are unhappy about being used as murder teams in the desert. Imagine that!

    Of course, dear old mom would NEVER believe in such moonbattery.

    At May 17, 2009 at 2:12 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

    Hersh mentions how SEALs are unhappy about being used as murder teams in the desert. Imagine that!Gee, thank you to you and Suze for that welcome trip down Memory Lane.


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