News & Politics

Will KBR Be Held Accountable for U.S. Soldier's Electrocution in Iraq?

An army investigator accuses KBR of negligent homicide.

What's it going to take for the Pentagon to revoke KBR's multi-million dollar contract in Iraq? Will it be the company's failure to ensure clean drinking water for US soldiers? Nope. How about the fact that they gave ice containing traces of putrefied remains to US soldiers? Still no. Not even the rape of former KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones led our government to suspend KBR's contract. Indeed, accountability for the largest US military contractor in Iraq always seems just outside of our grasp.

Take the case of Sgt. Ryan Maseth, who was electrocuted while showering at the Legion Security Forces Building in Baghdad in January of 2008. All signs pointed to the fact that KBR ignored warnings about unsafe wiring. And now, CNN reports a US Army Criminal Investigations Division investigator wants the official manner of death for Sgt. Ryan Maseth to be changed from "accidental" to "negligent homicide."

This ought to do the trick, considering the CID investigator fingers KBR in the report. But no charges have been filed and the cause of death has not yet been changed officially. To top it off, the Pentagon issued KBR a "Level III Corrective Action Request" for "serious non-compliance," but didn't actually take the logical step of suspending their contract, hard to believe considering the Pentagon also found that 18 soldiers have been electrocuted for faulty wiring since 2003.

ZP Heller is the editorial director of Brave New Films. He has written for The American Prospect, AlterNet, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Huffington Post, covering everything from politics to pop culture.
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