MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST: Senator Byron Dorgan held a press conference in the US Senate to discuss a recent report by the inspector general, a report that found that US contractors had been delivering contaminated water to US troops in Iraq. The report cited KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton.
March 10, 2008
BYRON DORGAN, US SENATOR (ND-D): So the Pentagon is saying, well, no, Senator Dorgan and those that are disclosing this are inaccurate. Halliburton is saying it’s inaccurate; the Pentagon is saying it’s inaccurate; everthing’s just fine. Here’s what the inspector general said. Things aren’t fine. The water was not treated as it was supposed to have been treated. Contaminated water was provided to the troops. Some troops got sick. In some cases, this water that was twice as contaminated as raw water from the Euphrates River was flowing as non-potable water to these military bases. When we got the information from the Halliburton corporation whistleblowers, Halliburton denied it, and so too did America’s military. Now we know that the inspector general says, no, no, that’s exactly what was happening. Exactly what was happening is this corporation’s being paid to provide good-quality, disinfected water to the troops, and the fact is they weren’t doing the job.
While most of Senator Dorgan’s complaints focused on private contractors, he also took issue with the Department of Defense.
DORGAN: Who’s going to be standing up for American soldiers if it’s not going to be the Pentagon? And who’s going to be standing up for the American taxpayer’s interest here? Who’s going to stand up on behalf of the American taxpayer if this government doesn’t? If we’re paying a company to treat water and make certain that water’s good quality water and they’re not doing it, then there ought to be consequences. We’re spending billions, tens and tens of billions of dollars on these kinds of contracts. And the question is: who’s doing the oversight? Who’s looking over the shoulders to find out (A) the taxpayer’s being properly served and (B) someone’s protecting American soldiers? In this instance, the answer is no one. No one seemed to give a damn.
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