Monday, April 28, 2008

Waste, Fraud & Abuse hearings; the results

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee met today in Washington for the 13th time to examine contracting abuse in Iraq and to hear the testimony of former contractors in Iraq, KBR, WWNS & CAPE Environmental.

Senator Dorgan called the current behavior of contractors in Iraq the "the greatest waste, fraud and abuse in the history of this country" and insisted that we have got to stop the fleecing of the American taxpayer.

In his opening statement the Senator from North Dakota again suggested that an oversight committee based on the Truman Committee that performed oversight during WWII. He reminded us that that Committee held 60 hearings a year and saved the US taxpayers $15 billion at a cost of $15,000. He closed by reminding us that he had:
"proposed the creation of such a Committee three times in the 108th and 109th Congresses, and regrettably the vote each time was almost exactly along party lines.
But I still believe that we need to establish a bipartisan Truman Committee, with subpoena power, to exercise the oversight that these abuses demand, and I will continue to push until we create one."
The statements of each of the witnesses, as well as video of the testimony are posted here. Take a few minutes, if you dare, to see just exactly how your tax dollars are being spent. Here are a few highlights (or would that be lowlights?) from the day.

The contractor who worked for WWN & CAPE Environmental, Barry Halley said:
While I was working with this same defense contractor, the site manager was
involved in bringing prostitutes into hotels operated by the contractor. A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was traveling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission. I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by a manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad. There were other employees involved in the prostitution ring as well.
Although the activities had been going on for some time, nothing was done to stop it until the contractor’s home office was informed about the prostitutes. Instead of firing the ring leader, however, the contractor merely transferred him to another project in Haiti.
Linda Warren, a former employee of Halliburton/KBR gave her testimony:
From the first day I was in Baghdad, I noticed something happening which I felt to be very wrong. KBR employees who were contracted to perform construction duties inside the palaces and municipal buildings were looting. Not only were they looting, but they had a system in place to get the contraband out of the country so it could be sold on eBay. They stole art work, rugs, crystal and even melted down gold to make spurs for cowboy boots. At first, I just watched as these KBR employees pilfered, but when I was asked if I wanted some of the items, I became very outspoken about what was happening, and informed the looters that what they were doing was stealing, and that those items belonged to the Iraqi people. I was ostracized because I started objecting to the actions of my co-workers, and was very vocal in my belief that they were looting, trafficking, and stealing antiquities.
Former KBR employee, Frank Cassaday told a compelling story of Marines being denied ice-
During my time as an ice plant operator at Camp Webster, I witnessed numerous
illegal activities and rules violations by KBR managers and employees. Ice was a very valuable commodity in Iraq that was regularly stolen and bartered for other goods. One day a convoy of U.S. Marines was going out of the area for several days and they wanted 28 bags of ice. The ice was used to keep their food and drinks cool. I watched as the ice plant foreman refused to give the troops the ice they requested and offered them only 3 bags of ice. The foreman told the troops that he was only allowed to give them 2 pounds of ice per person per day, but in fact it was the foreman who made that rule. KBR had plenty of ice that could have been provided to these troops who were going off the base into the desert.

One Marine asked me, “Why won’t this man give us ice, you do?” I told the Marine that he should tell his superior officer because the ice foreman was cheating the
troops out of ice at the same time that he was trading the ice for DVDs, CDs, food and other items at the Iraqi shops across the street.

I could go on, but I have provided the links to the full testimony and video of the hearing held today, so the ball's in your court. April 15th was less than 2 weeks ago, a day where our taxes re-filled the governments coffers, and these examples of waste, fraud & abuse is how your tax dollars are being spent. It's not okay with me. What are you doing to raise your voice to say, STOP IT AND STOP IT NOW?

Where do you start? How about your member of Congress or one of members of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee Hearing?
  • Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Chairman, Senate Democratic Policy Committee
  • Senator Richard Durbin, Assistant Majority Leader
  • Senator Jeff Bingaman
  • Senator Maria Cantwell
  • Senator Robert Casey
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • Senator Claire McCaskill
  • Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
It's your tax money, is this okay with you?

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