02
Jun
09

Related Newswires Articles on Fiscal Discipline from the Huffington Post

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Related Newswires Articles on Fiscal Discipline from the Huffington Post:

Pakistan Embassy: US Plans Massive Billion-Dollar Mega-Structure
from The Huffington Post | By Saeed Shah and Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers

ISLAMABAD — The U.S. is embarking on a $1 billion crash program to expand its diplomatic presence in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan, another sign that the Obama administration is making a costly, long-term commitment to war-torn South Asia, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The White House has asked Congress for — and seems likely to receive — $736 million to build a new U.S. embassy in Islamabad, along with permanent housing for U.S. government civilians and new office space in the Pakistani capital.

The scale of the projects rivals the giant U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which was completed last year after construction delays at a cost of $740 million.

Senior State Department officials said the expanded diplomatic presence is needed to replace overcrowded, dilapidated and unsafe facilities and to support a “surge” of civilian officials into Afghanistan and Pakistan ordered by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

KBR Inc. Bonuses Paid Out Despite Soldiers’ Deaths
from The Huffington Post |  KIMBERLY HEFLING | AP

The chief executive of the military contractor under scrutiny in the electrocution of U.S. troops in Iraq said Wednesday the electrical codes it used in the buildings it maintained in the war zone “were known and thought to be acceptable” by the Pentagon.

William P. Utt, the chairman of Houston-based KBR Inc. told The Associated Press in an interview that the company was not expected to meet the U.S. electrical code in a wartime environment. He said the company was striving to meet the British electrical code, which was more in line with the Iraqi electrical system.

Earlier Wednesday, Jim Childs, an electrical inspector hired by the Army to help review U.S.-run facilities in Iraq testified before the Democrats’ policy committee that 90 percent of KBR’s wiring in newly constructed buildings in Iraq was not done properly, meaning an estimated 70,000 buildings where troops lived and worked were not safe.

“When I began inspecting the electrical work performed by KBR, my co-workers and I found improper electrical work in every building we inspected,” Childs said.

US Army Paid KBR Bonuses Despite Soldiers’ Deaths Resulting From Shoddy Work
from The Huffington Post | Full News Feed by The Huffington Post News Editors

The U.S. Army paid $83.4 million in bonuses to KBR Inc., its biggest contractor in Iraq, despite accusations its wiring work has been linked to the electrocution of at least four soldiers and one contractor, a congressional investigative panel said on Wednesday.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee said it also determined that more than half of the bonuses — $48.9 million — were awarded after the Defense Department sounded an alarm in early 2007 about what the panel described as pervasive problems with KBR.

Chairman Byron Dorgan opened the hearing by ripping into the Houston-based company and accusing the Army of “stunning incompetence” in rewarding it for its work.

The Senate Democratic Policy Committee is the research arm of the Senate Democratic leadership and conducts investigations of its own.

Dorgan said his panel’s probe “led us to internal Pentagon documents showing that in 2007 and 2008, KBR received bonuses of $83.4 million for work that, according to the Pentagon‘s own investigation, led to the electrocution deaths of U.S. troops.”

KBR Wins $35M Pentagon Contract Despite Criminal Probe Into Electrocution Deaths
from The Huffington Post | Full News Feed by The Huffington Post News Editors

Defense contractor KBR Inc. has been awarded a $35 million Pentagon contract involving major electrical work, even as it is under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

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.

Security Problems At US Bases In Iraq Cause Serious Concern
from The Huffington Post |  RICHARD LARDNER | AP

U.S. military officials want to know if an employee for a private security contractor was fired for telling investigators about serious deficiencies in training and equipment for Ugandan guards hired to protect an American base in Iraq.

Information about John Wayne Nash’s sudden departure from Iraq after he met with staff from the Commission on Wartime Contracting was forwarded by U.S. Central Command to the office of the Pentagon inspector general.

The inspector general’s military reprisal investigation unit is reviewing the material to determine if a full inquiry is warranted, according to a defense official who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to publicly discuss the matter.

The military relies on hired guards at bases in Iraq so troops are available for combat duties. Overall, there are five companies providing security at bases in Iraq under contracts with an estimated value of $250 million.

Human Rights Inquiry Set For Warehoused Asians In Iraq
from The Huffington Post | By Adam Ashton | McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military and defense contractor KBR are investigating possible human-rights abuses at a compound near the Baghdad airport where a Kuwaiti company housed about 1,000 Asian men it recruited for jobs in Iraq that didn’t materialize.

About 400 of the men continue to wait for flights back to their home countries more than a week after officials from Najlaa International Catering Services said they were planning to repatriate the men. The others were sent home, a Sri Lankan who’s still living on the grounds said Friday.

“We’re tired of their drama. We just want to leave,” said Manoj Kodithuwakku, 28.

McClatchy and the Times of London first reported on the men in the compound Dec. 2, when they started to protest their living conditions in the three windowless warehouses where they’d spent the past two to three months.

Accompanying Related Video:

US Troops in Iraq talk about Halliburton & KBR

Interviews with US troops and Halliburton employees explain what is happening in Iraq.

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