WASHINGTON, DC- Following a Democratic Policy Committee hearing today on the electrocution of troops in Iraq and bonuses paid to KBR, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released the following statement:
“We held this hearing today because we are looking for accountability and trying to seek justice. The only way we can do this is to arrive at the truth. After more than a year of searching, we still have a ways to go.
“KBR was awarded over $80 million dollars in bonuses in 2007 and 2008. Some of these bonuses were paid after the death of Ryan Maseth and after there was ample evidence that KBR performed shoddy work. Some of these bonuses may have been paid for work that may have led to Ryan Maseth's death.
“This business as usual approach is unacceptable. KBR should not be rewarded for endangering our troops, they should be punished.
“It is also troubling to hear confirmation of reports that our troops are experiencing similar electrical problems in Afghanistan.
“The electrocution threat facing our troops probably would not have come to light if not for the brave and persistent advocacy of Cheryl Harris. After her son was electrocuted in Iraq, Cheryl has been deeply concerned that no other family will have to endure the pain she has. We should all be guided by her commitment and her example.
“Our brave troops have met every test and shown that they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. They, however, should not have to make that sacrifice while they are taking a shower or washing a Humvee.
“Over the past year, after learning about the tragic and senseless death of Ryan Maseth, I have been engaged in a continuous dialogue with U.S. military leaders, including Secretary Gates and General Petraeus, on the need to demand accountability for the 18 U.S. military personnel who have died by electrocution.
“Our efforts have resulted in some important progress on accountability. In January, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division reclassified the death of Ryan Maseth from an ‘accident’ to possible ‘negligent homicide,’ focusing on the roles played by two KBR personnel in failing to carry out their contractual requirements. In the wake of that disclosure, the U.S. Army CID has reopened four other electrocution cases for further investigation.
“I have been told repeatedly that the U.S. Army is doing everything it can to rectify this situation. A dedicated Task Force SAFE was established to implement actions to reduce the risk of electrocution, shocks and electrical fires and launch a comprehensive information campaign to educate U.S. military personnel on the risks. General Petraeus deployed a team from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center to perform an independent analysis of past electrical incidents. And U.S. Army personnel were instructed to correct such basic flaws as overloaded circuits and uncertified electrical devices.
“We can at least take some solace in that this hearing continued to shed light on this recurring problem. I am determined in my resolve to find the truth and help create the safest environment possible for our fighting men and women.”