McCollum: Take Iraq contract back from KBR

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Fourth District U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum wants Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to explain why Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. (KBR) got a $35 million construction contract in southern Iraq. The company is under criminal investigation in connection with as many as 18 electrocution deaths of servicemen such as David A. Cedergren, a navy medic from Zimmerman, Minn., who was a constituent of McCollum’s.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is examining whether Cedergren’s death in 2004 while showering outdoors at a military camp in Iraq was due to faulty wiring and construction work by KBR.
In a statement, McCollum said:

Secretary Gates should immediately rescind any new awards to KBR. It is irresponsible and negligent for the Department of Defense to grant additional contracts to a company facing such serious allegations. We recently learned, after five years of scrutiny, that a Minnesota sailor was electrocuted to death by faulty wiring. Who can trust KBR’s work? … We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety for our troops at home and abroad – not pad the pocket of a negligent military contractor.

In a separate case that was settled last week, KBR agreed to pay (along with former parent company Halliburton) $579 million in fines for bribing Nigerian officials in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

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