Category Archives: iraq war electrocutions 12 dead since 2003 waxman gates

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.


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?


the full-text of the letter, then:

March 19,2008

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
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]. . .