Military contractor KBR, Inc., seems to have one of those personal permanent rain clouds hovering over its head that follows it everywhere. You almost can’t help feeling sorry for the forlorn little former subsidiary of Haliburton…or not. So far, KBR has been sued for (not an exhaustive list):
- Exposing troops to unsafe food, water, and toxic fumes. KBR allegedly loaded ice for the troops onto trucks that were still contaminated with bodily fluids and other biohazards from bodies, and allegedly mismanaged the burn pits it used to dispose of medical waste and bodies so poorly that a stray dog was seen running around a base with a human arm in its mouth.
- Health problems related to its massive burn pits. Plaintiffs alleged that their family members died as a result of exposure from toxic fumes emitted from KBR’s flaming garbage pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pretty much anything not tied down was allegedly tossed into these pits, including the aforementioned arm.
- Forcing Nepalese workers to work in Iraq, where they were kidnapped and killed. The workers were allegedly recruited in Nepal by KBR and its Jordanian contractor and told that they would be working in a luxury hotel in Jordan. However, they were taken instead to Iraq where, on the way, their unprotected convoy was attacked and all but one were kidnapped and murdered.
- KBR is also facing a criminal investigation as a result of electrocution deaths of soldiers. 18 soldiers have been electrocuted, most while showering, as a result of improperly installed or maintained electrical equipment.
Now, in the latest legal snafu, the U.S. Department of Justice has sued KBR for allegedly knowingly including impermissible costs for private security in bills submitted to the Army between 2003 and 2006. According to the lawsuit, KBR violated a service contract by failing to obtain authorization from the government for private security subcontractors. KBR, on the other hand, claims that the government was the one in breach of contract because it failed to provide adequate protection for KBR employees, requiring KBR to hire its own guns.
With all this litigation as a result of what appears to be serious mismanagement and lack of oversight, we need to question whether military contractors are providing taxpayers the best value for their money. It’s important for more whistleblowers to bring fraud by military contractors to light so we can start getting our ill-gotten tax dollars back!