July 28, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) Halliburton, the transnational oil field services company formerly run by former Vice President and accused war criminal Dick Cheney, is under public scrutiny again after it was revealed its former subsidiary is suing Iraq War veterans for $850,000.
Cheney self-approved major bids for his former company and its subsidiaries, which received massive government contracts in Iraq—funded by the American taxpayer—totaling over $39.5 billion. The U.S. war in Iraq has caused the loss of an estimated 1 million lives and Halliburton profited in the billions from contracts that facilitated the bloodshed. One of the lesser known repercussions from the war was the toxic nature of oil work and waste disposal that resulted in the poisoning of untold numbers of American soldiers and Iraqis alike.
In 2012, a federal court in Portland, Oregon, awarded $85 Million in reimbursements to twelve Oregon National Guardsmen who had been exposed to and fell ill from the cancer-causing toxin sodium dichromate at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in Iraq. One veteran described his current health situation, saying that his children “saw me go from being such a big, strong soldier to just a crumpled down man dying of cancer.”
The Qarmat Ali water treatment plant was operated by KBR (a subsidiary of Halliburton at the time). The 9th Circuit Court threw out the2012 judgement on appeal, announcing the veterans must sue the company in Texas, the state where KBR’s headquarters is located.
The case against KBR is being filed again in Houston, but KBR is now attempting to sue the veterans for $850,000 in legal fees from the first case—a thinly veiled attempt to punish the veterans for seeking justice for their severe mistreatment.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has expressed concern over the latest developments in this case. In a letter addressed to the Department of Defense, he said, “[W]e are concerned about the possibility of the DoD — and ultimately the American taxpayer — footing the bill for this seemingly endless and expensive litigation. In light of recent developments, and the potential for taxpayer dollars to enable the bankrupting of war veterans, we urge you to take control of this litigation and reach and equitable settlement.”
According to Military.com, “[T]he company (KBR) has argued in court that it can’t be held liable for wartime decisions made by the U.S. military, and that it was essentially following orders given by the government when it created the burn pits.”
Hundreds of other veterans have launched similar lawsuits against Halliburton, KBR, and several other military contractors in 42 states for negligence in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One veteran, David Montoya, who is suing both Halliburton and KBR after he fell ill to cancer, summed up this situation best:
“You just kind of feel betrayed by corporate America, you know? Regardless of your beliefs on the war, when it comes down to corporate America profiting so much and the amount of money they make, they can take the time and right steps to ensure the safety of the service member.”
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