Anyway, the latest news you haven't read is that a (surprise!) Halliburton subsidiary has not only botched the delivery of clean water to civilians and US troops, but has threatened its own employees when they tried to go public with the information. Let's take a closer look, because the odds are you're much more likely to read about this on LiveJournal than you are to hear about it on the news or in the paper.
WASHINGTON - The Pentagon's official watchdog will investigate allegations by Halliburton Co. water experts that their company endangered U.S. troops in Iraq by failing to provide safe shower and laundry water.
Support our troops!
The most serious allegation came from the company's water treatment manager in the war zone whose internal report said troops and civilians in Iraq were left vulnerable to "mass sickness or death."
Hey, but nobody died, so what's the big deal, right?
A former Halliburton water expert who found contamination at the Ar Ramadi base a year ago said he was told by superiors not to advise the military or senior company officials of his discovery.
They've got other things to worry about, like staying alive long enough to collect their bonus checks.
Byron Dorgan, who has held hearings on the water issue, said the risk to U.S. forces in Iraq "should not include behavior by contractors who cut corners and whose incompetence fails to manage a program that is supposed to deliver safe water supplies."
Obviously, "Comrade" Dorgan is not familiar with the concept of free enterprise.
The internal company report, obtained by The Associated Press, was written last May by Wil Granger, the "Theatre Water Quality Manager" for Halliburton's KBR subsidiary. The report cited confusion between the military and the company over their water treatment responsibilities, a lack of training and the absence of records that might have provided warnings of contamination.
But, you know, other than THAT, they're doing a great job!
The report said company water treatment units "had been on site for a considerable amount of time without assembly" due to resistance from a KBR foreman, who believed if they had been operating, "it would expose his weak knowledge base."
So, in other words, they had machinery to purify and treat the water, but they didn't bother putting them together, so that no one would realize how incompetent they were. Dick Cheney's America, ladies and gentlemen.
Granger wrote that the problems were not confined to Ar Ramadi. "Countrywide, all camps suffer to some extent from all or some of the deficiencies noted," Granger wrote in the May 2005 report.
Well, at least they're not just singling out one place. Bright side! Bright side!
Halliburton said it has "worked closely with the Army to develop standards and take action to ensure that the water provided in Iraq is safe and of the highest quality possible."
It doesn't matter who it's from: you can smell the aroma of bullshit PR talk a mile away.
In an interview, [KBR water expert Ben] Carter said he resigned after KBR supervisors at the base "told me to stop e-mailing" company officials outside the base and warned that informing the military "was none of my concern."
Hey, you're a water expert, not an informing-your-superiors-of-massive-incompetence-and-corruption expert!
He said he threatened to sue if company officials did not let him be examined to determine whether he suffered medical problems from exposure to the contaminated water. Granger's report confirmed that KBR officials at Ar Ramadi tried to keep the contamination from senior company officials. "The event that was submitted in a report to local camp management should have been classified as a recordable occurrence and communicated to senior management in a timely manner," Granger wrote. "The primary awareness to this event came through threat of domestic litigation."
That's the free market in action, see? It's the genius of the system! It's entirely self-regulating, and if a company does something like, say, provide poison water to soldiers, informed consumers will be able to eventually do something by threatening a lawsuit! Maybe!
Granger's report cited several countrywide problems.
Remember that: KBR is providing the water for the entire nation of Iraq. If you ever want to know what America will look like if the libertarian/Randroid/free-market right get their way and all industry is deregulated and privatized, look to Iraq: here's what you're facing when the water supply is placed entirely in private hands with no government oversight.
Lack of training: "Theatrewide, there is no formalized training for anyone at any level in concerns to water operations."
NO formalized training for ANYONE at ANY level. Thank you and good night.
Confusion between KBR and military officials over their respective roles: Each assumed the other would chlorinate the water at Ar Ramadi for any uses that would require the treatment.
Well, the important thing isn't who did it, but that it got done. Oh, wait.
Inadequate or nonexistent records that could have caught problems in advance: Little or no documentation was kept on water inventories, safety stand-downs, audits of water quality, deliveries, inspections and logs showing alterations or modifications to water systems.
I work for a small private company that provides parts for auto and small engine manufacturers, and we have to document everything, down to the minutest level. This is a company charged with providing safe water for an entire country AND several occupying armies, and they are keeping "little or no documentation" on pretty much every important aspect of the operation. But hey, at least they're getting a multibillion-dollar no-bid contract to do it!
Relying on employees the company identified as semiskilled labor and paid as unskilled workers.
See also the fact that, while Iraqis are unemployed in massive numbers, American firms are importing labor from the Phillipines, because it's cheaper. I'm sure that's not fuelling the insurgency at all, that foreign invaders are bringing in workers from halfway around the world and leaving the local men jobless, hopeless and pissed off.
Remember, this is just ONE INSTANCE of what is a systemic problem in the whole country. This drives me crazier than anything -- than the insurgency, than the lack of planning, than even the widespread casualties. Why is it that when American corporations are collecting billions of dollars to do absolutely nothing, it's not making a ripple in the headlines? Must be that liberal media again.