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On January 2nd, yet another American soldier died in Iraq. But Staff
Sergeant Ryan Maseth, a highly-decorated Green Beret, didn’t die from a
roadside bomb or an al Queda sniper. He was killed by his shower.
More accurately, Sgt. Maseth’s killer was privatization. That’s the out-of-
control policy of turning over essential military support systems to a
sprawling, unregulated network of for-profit corporations and letting them
get away again and again with shoddy – even deadly – work.
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Sgt. Maseth was safely inside his Army base in Baghdad when he
reached for the shower faucet. Electricity instantly shot through the pipes,
through the water itself, and through his entire body, electrocuting him. His
mother, stunned, pressed the Army for details, but got only hemming and
hawing at first, then she got a lie: she was told that her son had a “small
appliance” with him in the shower. She knew better and kept pushing,
finally learning that the facility’s water pump had not been properly
Worse, Army documents reveal that Halliburton, under contract to
inspect such systems, had found serious electrical problems in this facility
nearly a year before Sgt. Maseth’s last shower. Why wasn’t it fixed?
Because Halliburton’s contract did not cover “fixing potential hazards,”
instead requiring only that it fix equipment already malfunctioning.
Meanwhile, the Army itself should have known about this death trap, but
under the Pentagon’s convoluted privatized system, the danger that
Halliburton found was not red-flagged and was never reviewed by a
“qualified government employee.”
At least a dozen of our soldiers have been killed by improper grounding of electrical equipment, but Halliburton coldly claims that it is not part of the Army and has no contractual obligation to prevent the electrocution of American Troops.
“Green Beret electrocuted in shower on Iraq base,” www.cnn.com, May 28, 2008