Jury: KBR Caused Troops' Cancer; KBR: Pay Up, America!
Remember when liberals had Dick Cheney's Halliburton to be OUTRAGED about, like common wingnuts have a black president? Well, jump in your time machine and set it for "2002," because Halliburton and its subsidiary, KBR, are whispering your name from across space and time!
Yes, now we find out through HuffPo that KBR had an operation in Iraq where they knowingly exposed US troops to sodium dichromate, a known carcinogen, and the troops died -- and a jury nailed them on it! You are perhaps going to have a spot of mild annoyance over what came next.
WASHINGTON -- Sodium dichromate is an orange-yellowish substance containing hexavalent chromium, an anti-corrosion chemical. To Lt. Col. James Gentry of the Indiana National Guard, who was stationed at the Qarmat Ali water treatment center in Iraq just after the 2003 U.S. invasion, it was “just different-colored sand.” In their first few months at the base, soldiers were told by KBR contractors running the facility the substance was no worse than a mild irritant. Gentry was one of approximately 830 service members, including active-duty soldiers and members of the National Guard and reserve units from Indiana, South Carolina, West Virginia and Oregon, assigned to secure the water treatment plant, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sodium dichromate is not a mild irritant. It is an extreme carcinogen. In November 2009, at age 52, Gentry died of cancer. The VA affirmed two months later that his death was service-related.
Well, that's just great. Different. Colored. Sand. This stuff is Day-Glo orange. Chemistry types know this stuff got phased out in labs for all but the most necessary uses in the '80s because it's such a bad boy, right? Hexavalent chromium, where have we heard of that bad boy before?
OK, bad stuff, KBR fucked up, lied, then tried to cover up, government prosecutes, jury zings the bastards for $85 million for both knowing about it and covering it up, justice is served? We wish! Turns out that KBR is whining that they have an indemnity clause in their contract with the government, which means we, the taxpayers, have to shell out for the troops' damages. Their indemnity clause is classified, but we feel like we heard about this or something like it at the time and were outraged then, so, fine, whatever, who cayuhs. Except, oh, get this: KBR says the government must pay not only the damages, but KBR's legal expenses as well. (Add 15 million clams, do not pass go.)
Pretty sure Bill Clinton calls that "brass." We call it "muuuuuurderrrrrr."