Electrocute U.S. servicemen, win $35.4 million Iraq contract


Last week, we told you about David A. Cedergren, a Navy medic whose death five years ago in Iraq was initially ruled "natural causes" but has now been reclassified as negligent homicide because he was electrocuted by faulty wiring in the shower.

Cedergren's death is among 18 electrocution deaths that are being investigated by the Department of Defense Inspector General.

Now it turns out that KBR, the company contracted to do the electrical work that may have killed Cedergren and other U.S. servicemen, has been awarded a new $35.4 million contract in Iraq.

And yes, the contract does involve plenty of electrical work:

The announcement of the new KBR contract came just months after the Pentagon, in strongly worded correspondence obtained by The Associated Press, rejected the company's explanation of serious mistakes in Iraq and its proposed improvements. A senior Pentagon official, David J. Graff, cited the company's "continuing quality deficiencies" and said KBR executives were "not sufficiently in touch with the urgency or realities of what was actually occurring on the ground."

"Many within DOD (the Department of Defense) have lost or are losing all remaining confidence in KBR's ability to successfully and repeatedly perform the required electrical support services mission in Iraq," wrote Graff, commander of the Defense Contract Management Agency, in a Sept. 30 letter.

Graff rejected the company's claims that it wasn't required to follow U.S. electrical codes for its work on U.S. military facilities in Iraq. KBR has said it would cost an extra $560 million to refurbish buildings in Iraq used by the U.S. military, including Saddam Hussein's palaces, which among other problems are based on a 220-volt standard rather than the American 120-volt standard.

KBR announced last week it won a new $35.4 million contract from the Army Corps of Engineers to design and build a convoy support center at Camp Adder in southern Iraq. It will include a power plant, electrical distribution center, water purification and distribution systems, wastewater and information systems and road paving.

So, whose to blame for this mess? The same Dick that's responsible for most of the Iraq debacle: Cheney.

KBR was previously owned by Halliburton Co., the oil services conglomerate that former Vice President Dick Cheney once led. Democrats have long complained it benefited from ties to Cheney.

This is not change we can believe in.