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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Sunday, May 11, 2008

    Families demand answers in Iraq electrocutions Caused By Military Privatization

    Maseth's electrocution, the latest of 14 among service personnel in Iraq since 2003, set into motion a series of events to determine how and why these deaths occurred.

    In March, a congressional committee started an investigation into all Iraq electrocutions. A month later, Maseth's parents sued the defense contractor responsible for the Chinese electrical system, alleging it failed to meet U.S. safety standards. And now, families across the country say they want more detailed information about the earlier deaths of loved ones.

    "I want answers, not revenge," said Bart Cedergren of South St. Paul, Minn., who suspects his son died of electrocution Sept. 11, 2005, near Iskandariyah, Iraq.

    No one knows whether everyone serving in Iraq is aware of the potential for electrocution, despite warnings in an October 2004 report by Army safety specialist Brett Blount. He wrote that five soldiers were electrocuted in that fiscal year alone and advised military leaders to get electrical experts to inspect generators and electrical systems.

    Frank Trent of the Army Corps of Engineers said in the report that improper grounding was a "factor in nearly every electrocution and is a serious threat for soldiers and civilians there."

    n April, they sued KBR in federal court, alleging the firm inspected the facilities at the Radwaniyah complex where their son died. They claim the contractor knew that hazardous conditions existed from improper grounding of faulty electrical systems manufactured in China for sale only to countries outside the United States because they did not comply with U.S. electrical safety standards.

    The wrongful death lawsuit contends that the contractor knew of other electrocutions and failed to repair electrical problems, despite orders to do so from the Defense Contract Management Agency. It adds that KBR did nothing to warn U.S. troops.



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