why is staff sergeant ryan d. maseth, special forces, dead? chairman waxman wants to know about electrocutions.

not surprisingly, the name of KBR,
a second-tier subsidiary of the formerly-
dick-cheney-led halliburton multi-national
defense contracting empire surfaces, pro-
minently in the inquiry as to whether KBR
completed any electrical design-
flaw-remediation work, it had apparently
been paid to evaluate, and undertake.

shocked. i am simply shocked, to learn
that kellog, brown & root might have been
involved in some way, in some sub-standard
iraq war contracting efforts — and that such
efforts have put our people in harm’s way.

a g a i n.

[END, UPDATED PORTION.]

it is as if the simple waste of billions
in taxpayer funds is not enough reason
to seek more meaningful iraq-construction
contract oversight. no, now we
learn, this morning, from rep. henry waxman’s office:

at least 12 u.s. servicemen have been
electrocuted since 2003
, in iraq, while,
for example, taking a shower — due, it
seems, to poor electrician-grounding-de-
sign-errors — in barracks/quarters con-
struction/retro-fitting, by contractors.

one might expect to die in a hail of
gunfire outside (or even in) the green
zone, these days, but one would think
that one’s shower-faucet would not be
an instrument of deadly-electrocution.

where is the iraq-contractor-oversight?

where?

the full-text of the letter, then:

March 19,2008

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary
U.S. Department of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Mr. Secretary:

As part of the Oversight Committee’s ongoing oversight of Iraq contract management, I am writing to request documents relating to the Department of Defense’s management of contracts for maintenance of electrical systems in facilities occupied by military and contractor personnel in Iraq. This issue was brought to my attention by Representative Jason Altmire, who requested that the Committee initiate an investigation into the death by accidental electrocution of Staff Sergeant Ryan D. Maseth, a Special Forces soldier from Pennsylvania.

According to the Army and Marine Corps, at least 12 service members have died in Iraq as a result of electrocution since 2003. In fact, in October 2004, the Army issued a safety publication noting that five soldiers died from electrocution in 2004 alone and warning that improper grounding of electrical wires is “a factor in nearly every electrocution” and “a serious threat” for soldiers in Iraq.

On January 2, 2008, Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth was electrocuted while taking a shower in his living quarters in the Radwaniyah Palace Complex in Baghdad. According to a memorandum issued by the Army Criminal Investigative Division, Staff Sergeant Maseth’s death was due to improper grounding of the electric water pump which supplied water to the building’s pipes. When Staff Sergeant Maseth stepped into the shower and turned on the water, an electrical short in the pump sent an electrical current through the water pipes to the metal shower hose, and then through Staff Sergeant Maseth’s arm to his heart.

The Committee has also been informed that the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) contracted with KBR Inc. in 2007 to perform maintenance of the building and that KBR may have submitted reports documenting safety hazards relating to the improper grounding of electrical devices. It remains unclear whether KBR was responsible for repairing these deficiencies.

Given the history of electrocutions in Iraq, I request that you provide copies of the following documents to the Committee in unredacted form:

(1) All documents, including incident reports, investigative reports, forensic reports, psychological reports, witness statements, and correspondence, relating to the circumstances of Staff Sergeant Maseth’s death;

(2) All contracts, along with task orders, amendments, modifications, and revisions thereto, issued to KBR for the maintenance or repair of electrical systems at Camps Slayer and Victory;

(3) All technical reports submiued by KBR to DCMA identifying electrical deficiencies, including the need for rewiring, in facilities maintained by KBR;

(4) All reports and communications regarding improper electrical grounding in facilities in Iraq used by U.S. military or contractor personnel or maintained under contracts with the U.S. Government; and

(5) The name, rank, current or last known address, and severity of injury for all U.S. military or contractor personnel injured or killed as a result of electrocution in facilities in Iraq maintained under contracts with the U.S. Government.

Please provide these documents by April 4, 2008.

The Committee on Oversight and Govemment Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. An attachment to this letter provides additional information on how to respond to the Committee’s request.

If you have any questions, please contact Theodore Chuang or Margaret Daum of the Committee staff at (202)225-5420.

sickening. my prayers are
with these soldiers’ families. . .
what a senseless way to have
sacrificed at the altar
of freedom
” [in the time-
less coinage of abraham lincoln]. . .

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11 responses to “why is staff sergeant ryan d. maseth, special forces, dead? chairman waxman wants to know about electrocutions.

  1. Thank you so much for writing this.. Ryan Maseth was a wonderful person and gave a life full of sacrifices to keep America Free and Safe. Its ashame to see rich Capitalistic War Profiteers such as KBR cheat our country, our tax dollar, our economy, and ultimately my best friends life. Please support your soldiers and freedom protectors and not such COs like KBR who give America a bad image and rob the American Economy…..PEOPLE BECOME AWARE OF SITUATIONS AND LEARN ABOUT KBR AND THEIR CORUPTION”

  2. i am honored to have anyone
    who knew this fine young man
    visit this humble blog.

    thank you for commenting, anon.

    may his passing not be in vain.

    we should all remember him in our
    own ways — and may anyone res-
    ponsible for any negligent-wiring
    in the servicemens’ showers be
    brought to justice — to answer
    for it. our men and women deserve
    the best we can get them, not this.

    p e a c e

  3. UPDATE on Ryan’s case:

    . . .Yesterday, in a quest for someone to be held accountable, Sgt. Maseth’s parents sued KBR Inc., the multibillion-dollar contractor hired to maintain and repair the electrical infrastructure at the Radwaniyah Palace complex in Baghdad, a former estate of Saddam Hussein, where Sgt. Maseth was killed.

    Attorney Patrick K. Cavanaugh said the military and the contractor had known about the electrical problem since February 2007, yet it went uncorrected.

    “The Defense Contract Management Agency, we believe, authorized [the contractor] to the tune of millions of dollars to make the repairs. And they never made the repairs,” Mr. Cavanaugh said. “And we don’t know why. A simple repair — just ground the building — and Ryan would be alive today. . .”

  4. I knew Ryan, I went through MOS-Q and I graduated with him, why are you using his tragic death to protest the war that he fought? He was a great SF operator and loved his country; I don’t think he would appreciate being used as a tool pawn of protest. it is unfortunate that he met such an unfortunate end but a large number of people die every day from accidents, a large number of people in Iraq die from accidents as my uncle did, but it does not honor the fallen to use there death to protest the war that they fought.

    The community has lost a great asset and we will greave him as we greave all of our own

  5. hey, anon. no. 2 — (yes, you,
    anonymous commenter no. 4 —
    the person who posted from
    Kellog Brown & Root, yep,
    in Arlington, Virginia!). . .

    did you read what anon. no. 1,
    the first commenter above, wrote?

    it seems he also was a friend of
    ryan’s. so, it seems there is a
    divergence of opinion, here.

    and i think that is healthy.

    it is healthy for our demo-
    cratic republic.

    i have been very careful — in
    my post, to simply report what
    the family has shared with rep.
    waxman’s office — and, in my
    UPDATE (comment 3, above) — not
    to go beyond what the family’s
    attorney had to say, to the media,
    in public remarks. i take it you
    would agree that ryan’s family
    sould be able to speak about
    their views, on their son’s death.

    i do not mean to disrepsect
    you — but i do mean to suggest
    that you may not hold a mono-
    poly
    on what ryan would
    have wanted. . .

    and, i will admit that the more-
    suspicious part of my nature finds
    it an entirely fascinating co-
    incidence
    that you posted from
    a computer at KBR, and that KBR
    is the one ryan’s family is now
    suing — in connection with his
    accidental electrocution, in iraq.

    but as i say — i think dissenting
    views, from whatever source, add to
    the richness of our understanding
    of complex events, like this one.

    feel free to offer your counter-
    points, here. . . i will honor
    your, and your father’s, service
    to our republic — that counts,
    in my book.

    i will listen. i promise.

    p e a c e

    — nolo

  6. Please take a moment to learn about the maintenance system that the US Govt. has imposed upon KBR. Most of the KBR employees are former career military folks. They love the military. However, it is strictly forbidden to do Level A maintenence on a Level B structure. Please don’t be quick to hang this Heroe’s tragic and uneccessary death on KBR. There are other areas that KBR doesn’t achieve the standard, this is not one of them. Any loss of human life over here hits deep. Most of us have just recently hung up our uniforms, we still consider ourselves part of the military family not the civilian family. KBR for the most part, strives to bring the highest quality of life to our military as contractually possible. Thank you.

  7. fair enough, spartacus. i do not
    fault individuals, so much as the
    entity KBR. KBR bid this contract,
    took it, and promised to perform.

    that, it seems, it did not do.

    this is less about KBR’s rank-and-file,
    whose honor and integrity were never
    in question — and more about a government
    that hasn’t done enough to police the wide-
    spread use — and over-employment, if you will,
    of dick cheney’s former subsidiary to reap
    billions in iraq.

    said another way, why wouldn’t troop-quarters
    be a level A priority for safety and maintenence?

    p e a c e

  8. Spartacus said…

    Please take a moment to learn about the maintenance system that the US Govt. has imposed upon KBR. Most of the KBR employees are former career military folks. They love the military. However, it is strictly forbidden to do Level A maintenence on a Level B structure. Please don’t be quick to hang this Heroe’s tragic and uneccessary death on KBR. There are other areas that KBR doesn’t achieve the standard, this is not one of them. Any loss of human life over here hits deep. Most of us have just recently hung up our uniforms, we still consider ourselves part of the military family not the civilian family. KBR for the most part, strives to bring the highest quality of life to our military as contractually possible. Thank you.

    2008/04/12 at 7:26 AM

  9. fair enough, spartacus. i do
    not fault individuals, so
    much as the entity KBR.
    KBR bid this contract,
    won it, took it, and
    promised to perform.

    that, it seems, it did not do.

    this is less about KBR’s rank-
    and-file employees, whose honor
    and integrity were never in
    question — at least, not by me — and
    much much more about a government
    that hasn’t done enough to police
    and monitor and oversee the wide-
    spread use — and over-employment,
    if you will, of dick cheney’s
    former subsidiary — to reap
    billions in iraq.

    said another way, why wouldn’t
    troop-quarters be a level “A” TOP
    priority for health, safety and
    maintenence?

    thank you for sharing your views,
    and thank you for serving. . . .

    p e a c e

  10. A casualty of friendly wire.

  11. odd. i haven’t been in here for a bit,
    but i’ll let all the comments stand.

    this is a first amendment zone.

    talking ill of the dead — good or bad,
    though one may believe them to be, is
    in fact — very low class. very.

    and he was serving his country. he
    is no longer here to defend himself.

    keep that in mind, and please be civil.

    these are just my opinions.

    but they should be yours, as well.

    – nolo, site admin.

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