Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Iraq convoy was sent out despite threat

Unarmored trucks carrying needed supplies were ambushed, leaving six drivers dead. Records illuminate the fateful decision.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?”

“Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

T Christian Miller The LA Times  September 3, 2007

Senior managers for defense contractor KBR overruled calls to halt supply operations in Iraq in the spring of 2004, ordering unarmored trucks into an active combat zone where six civilian drivers died in an ambush, according to newly available documents.

Company e-mails and other internal communications reveal that before KBR dispatched the convoy, a chorus of security advisors predicted an increase in roadside bombings and attacks on Iraq’s highways. They recommended suspension of convoys.

“[I] think we will get people injured or killed tomorrow,” warned KBR regional security chief George Seagle, citing “tons of intel.” But in an e-mail sent a day before the convoy was dispatched, he also acknowledged: “Big politics and contract issues involved.”

KBR was under intense pressure from the military to deliver on its multibillion-dollar contract to transport food, fuel and other vital supplies to U.S. soldiers. At Baghdad’s airport, a shortage of jet fuel threatened to ground some units.

After consulting with military commanders, KBR’s top managers decided to keep the convoys rolling. “If the [Army] pushes, then we push, too,” wrote an aide to Craig Peterson, KBR’s top official in Iraq.

The decision prompted a raging internal debate that is detailed in private KBR documents, some under court seal, that were reviewed by The Times.

One KBR management official threatened to resign when superiors ordered truckers to continue driving. “I cannot consciously sit back and allow unarmed civilians to get picked apart,” wrote Keith Richard, chief of the trucking operation.

Six American truck drivers and two U.S. soldiers were killed when the convoy rumbled into a five-mile gauntlet of weapons fire on April 9, 2004, making an emergency delivery of jet fuel to the airport. One soldier and a seventh trucker remain missing.

Recriminations began the same day.

“Can anyone explain to me why we put civilians in the middle of known ambush sites?” demanded one security advisor in an e-mail. “Maybe we should put body bags on the packing list for our drivers.”

Please read the entire story here

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Oversight, Contractors Missing, Defense Base Act, Department of Defense, Follow the Money, Halliburton, Iraq, KBR, Lawsuits, Politics, Private Military Contractors, Safety and Security Issues, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KBR, Halliburton Won’t Face Trial in Iraq Convoy Driver Deaths, Judge Priscilla R Owen Says

The Defense Base Act’s Exclusive Remedy “A License to Kill”

The Exclusive Remedy was intended to be trade off to keep injured contractors from having litigate with their employers when they are injured.  As it turns out the employers are off the hook and the injured contractors fight for years for medical care and lost wages from private insurance companies, AIG, CNA, ACE

AIG has fought the survivors and families of those killed like they were common criminals for the death, medical, and lost wages that were to be provided “forthwith”.

And no one believes this could happen until it happens to them and their family.

Bloomberg  January 12, 2012

KBR Inc. (KBR) and its former corporate parent, Halliburton Co. (HAL), won’t face a jury on claims they sent unarmed civilian convoy drivers into an Iraqi battle zone in 2004, knowing the workers would be injured or killed, an appeals court ruled.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans today ruled the drivers’ claims were blocked by the Defense Base Act, a U.S. law that shields military contractors from lawsuits. The drivers were attacked and injured because of their role in support operations for the U.S. Army, which is covered under that statute, the judges said.

“Coverage of an injury under the DBA precludes an employee from recovering from his employer,” even if the worker claims the company was “substantially certain” the injuries would occur, U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla R. Owen said in a 30-page ruling by the panel.

KBR, a Houston-based government contractor, was sued in 2005 by the families of seven drivers killed while working inIraq for the largest U.S. military contractor. The company appealed a 2010 lower-court ruling that jurors could weigh the companies’ actions without second-guessing the actions of the Army.

Unarmed Civilians

U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, who presided over the case in Houston federal court, refused to dismiss Halliburton, which spun off KBR as a separate company in 2007. Miller had also ruled that the companies couldn’t name the military as a co-defendant in the lawsuits, so the Army wasn’t required to defend its actions.

The drivers and their families claimed KBR officials fraudulently recruited workers for safe jobs in Iraq and intentionally sent unarmed civilians into a recognized combat zone in April 2004. KBR’s military-supply contract gave company officials the right to refuse assignments deemed too dangerous for civilians, according to the complaints.

KBR and Halliburton argued that they weren’t liable because they couldn’t refuse Army orders to dispatch the fuel convoys under terms of their multibillion-dollar supply contract with the U.S. military. The convoys were attacked at a time when Iraqi insurgents were escalating the fight against U.S. troops that had taken over the country to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.

The case is Fisher v. Halliburton, 10-20202, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit (New Orleans).

January 12, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act, Halliburton, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments