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Hearing on Dangerous Wiring in Iraq Starts

The House oversight committee is holding a hearing this morning on faulty wiring in Iraq that has been responsible for the electrocution of 16 U.S. soldiers. The wiring was installed by contractor KBR, a former Halliburton subsidiary. Committee chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Ca.) was outraged during his opening statement, saying that Pentagon officials are about to admit in their testimony that the Defense Dept. has no way of ensuring electrical safety in Iraq. Top committee Republican Tom Davis (R-Va.), though, said soldiers could have had more safety awareness training.

Waxman is promising documents later in the hearing showing that the death of Green Beret Ryan Maseth in January, who was electrocuted while showering, could have been prevented. A report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, released this week, absolved the Pentagon, and KBR, of responsibility. The IG report also said there have been 16 electrocutions of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The previously reported number was 13.

Meanwhile, Davis just called Iraq’s infrastructure “third world” 3-4 times. “Apparently the [Saddam Hussein] regime had as much respect for building codes as it did U.N. resolutions,” Davis said. He even stated that “better safety training” could have prevented these deaths.

Stick with The Streak to see what the committee hears from Pentagon and KBR officials.

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