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Theft, hookers, melting down Iraqi gold to make cowboy spurs—all in a day's work for private military contractors in Iraq?
... testimony earlier this week of three whistleblowers before the Senate's Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) stands out for the sheer outrageousness of their accusations—namely that U.S. private contractors looted Iraqi palaces and ministries, stole military equipment, fenced supplies destined for U.S. troops, and even operated a prostitution ring that may have contributed to the death of fellow contractor.
The practice of stealing equipment and supplies destined for the U.S. military was so pervasive that KBR employees invented a slang term to describe it: "drug deals."
Perhaps more shocking than any of this was the accusation from Barry Halley, a former project manager for Worldwide Network Services, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that was working on subcontract for DynCorp. According to Halley, his site manager in Iraq, who he said was employed by a "major defense contractor," moonlighted as the leader of a prostitution ring serving American contractors in Iraq that indirectly caused the death of a colleague. "A co-worker unrelated to the ring was killed when he was traveling in an unsecure car and shot performing a high-risk mission," he told the committee. "I believe that my co-worker could have survived if he had been riding in an armored car. At the time, the armored car that he would otherwise have been riding in was being used by a manager to transport prostitutes from Kuwait to Baghdad." The prostitution ring was shut down when the company's home office learned of it, but, Halley said, the manager who controlled it retained his job, moving on to work another contract in Haiti.
Arriving nearly two weeks after the military awarded a 10-year logistical contract worth up to $150 billion to DynCorp, KBR, and a third firm, the DPC hearing was the thirteenth in a series designed to look into contractor fraud and abuse in the reconstruction of Iraq.
According to Cassaday, although contractors for KBR are trained to report irregularities, the practice is generally frowned on by managers in the field. "In Houston at the training camp that I was at for two weeks before we went over to Iraq, they told us that, 'Our door is always open. If you have a problem, just come on in,'" he said. "But what they don't tell you is there's a back door to that office. If you come in and you complain about something, you're going to be going out that back door. You're going to either be transferred someplace you don't want to be, or you're going to be fired."