Benjamin Carter v. Hallibuton Company; and Kellogg, Brown & Root (aka KBR)
by ItsNeverOver, Fri Jul 25, 2008 at 10:10:14 AM EDT
Two weeks ago, when I first posted my interview with Ben Carter, many people applauded him for having the courage to come forward and talk about his first-hand experience in Iraq with Halliburton subsidiary KBR. He described, in great detail, KBR's negligence in their contract to provide safe non-potable water to the troops. Hundreds and hundreds responded by e-mailing DoD Chief Financial Officer Tina Jonas, telling her not to give KBR another penny of thegovernment's money until a full public investigation was fulfilled. Note: After receiving an influx of emails from activists, Ms. Jonas blocked her email address. We have now made the action into a petition which will be delivered to her.
We also shared Ben's testimony on the Brave New Films documentary, Iraq For Sale
Not everyone was supportive though...
One angry young man responded negatively on the blogs. He said I was presenting heresy as fact, and accused me of not providing enough evidence to back up Ben's claims. I guess he wasn't convinced of Ben's story, even though it perfectly aligned with previous reports in the press, ranging from the breaking of the dirty water story to Senator Clinton's push for an investigation of KBR.
Well if it wasn't clear to everyone already, Ben Carter does not just talk the talk he walks the walk. And today, for the first time, we can show you that he's willing to put his accusations and evidence before a court. Last week, I received an email from Ben that said: "Here's the federal complaint now made public for the first time. I'd like to see this distributed far and wide." That is why I am posting a link to where I've uploaded the PDF of the entire text of the federal complaint on the Progressive Future website.
Unfortunately, in that same e-mail, Ben broke some bad news. He informed me that, because his case against Halliburton and KBR is pending, his lawyers have asked him not to give any more public statements. So I'll have to renege on my promise to deliver a breaking news story about this scandal in the form of a blog written by Ben.
But Ben's complaint speaks volumes. In case you don't want to wade through the legal jargon, I've pulled out a few highlights:
* In 2001, the Department of Defense awarded KBR a contract for supplying potable and non-potable water to military bases, and was made responsible for chlorinating/testing all water stations three time daily.
* At Camp Ramadi, where Carter was stationed, the base got its water from a point in the Euphrates River which was less than 2 miles downstream from a from a human sewage discharge point which was contaminated with many disease-causing organisms, including "total coliform, E. coli, and other bacteria, to viruses and hardy protazoa."
* Carter was hired by KBR and arrived at Camp Ramadi in January, 2005, and was promoted to acting water purification foreman in March 2005. After a fellow employee reported that he had seen an infestation in a toilet, Carter inspected the toilet and found larvae swimming around in it. He then did a chlorination test of each of the water points at the camp, and found no chlorination to be present.
* Carter then received an email from a KBR worker on leave that KBR had, in fact, exposed an entire military base to water which was roughly 2x more contaminated than the raw river water. The worker said that there had been no testing or decontamination present for the entire life of the camp.
* Carter then found out that not only had KBR not been testing or chlorinating the water, but they had also used the discarded wastewater from the reverse-osmosis purification process and supplied it to the camp as its non-potable water supply.
* (This part was reported on in Carter's previous blog): when Carter confronted KBR site manager, Susan Raku-Williams, about the problem and was told that the military was none of their concern (even though logistical support of the military was the basis on which KBR was awarded its contract.
* Carter also learned that the water testing kits which included apparatuses necessary for measuring chlorine, had never been present for the entirety of the time that Camp Ramadi existed, meaning that chlorination had never occurred at Ramadi.
So why is the DOJ dragging its feet? Again, Ben can't speak to that right now, and I can't speak for him. But I can tell you what I think. Consider just a few of these quotes from people involved with this story and those following it on the Web:
"During the nearly 4 years of war, the Department of Justice has failed to move aggressively enough in prosecuting fraud in Iraq. Today, the Inspectors General before us have opened hundreds of investigations...but so far, the U.S. Justice Department has only brought eight criminal cases involving 25 individuals over the last 3 years. The crimes in a number of these cases were committed by employees of Kellogg, Brown & Root, one of the largest contractors in Iraq--as I said, a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton. In these cases, the employees have admitted to receiving kickbacks, inflating costs, embezzling money, and stealing millions from the American people. But so far, the Justice Department has brought no legal action, civil or criminal, against KBR or Halliburton."
-Sen. Patrick Leahy, Senate Hearing: "Combating War Profiteering" 3/20/2007
"[The Republican-run DOJ] deliberately bottleneck cases that would be harmful to their corporate contributors."
-Dday on Blogger.com, 7/02/2008
"Last September, Senator Leahy asked why the Justice Department was not intervening in this category of cases. We're still waiting for the answer that we all know: because the orgy of greed and war profiteering are being enjoyed by friends of the Bush administration like Halliburton and KBR."
-Jessalyn Raddack, Daily Kos Post, 7/02/2008
And there you have it. Ben didn't come right out and say that the DOJ was dragging its feet for political purposes, but he did mention he got the feeling that the DOJ didn't want this case to see the light of day.
I'll leave you with a couple of quotes I've pulled from my email correspondence with Ben:
"I really want to stress what I feel is most important, that somebody notifies ALL the soldiers and contractors who were exposed to this dangerous water at the various bases in Iraq."
"I waited silently for the DOJ to bring Halliburton into court and demand a refund for ALL the money they had billed our government for providing unsafe water to our troops. Only to have the DOJ file motions for extensions month after month. I guess what I'm getting at is this, if the DOJ won't protect the United States government and taxpayers from Halliburton, who will?"
You can help Ben take a stand by signing our petition which we will deliver to DoD Chief Financial Officer, Tina Jonas, asking her to withhold KBR's payment until a full public investigation is pursued from beginning to end.