Thursday, December 09, 2010

Another US soldier dies in Iraq

A US soldier has been announced dead by the military becoming the first soldier killed in Iraq this month. Xinhua quotes from the statement: "A soldier assigned to United States Forces-Iraq was killed on December 8 while conducting operations in southern Iraq." Bushra Juhi (AP) notes the death and that 2 police officers died this morning while on a Baghdad patrol.

Meanwhile Anthony Welsch (WBIR -- link has text and video) reports the war contractor EOD Techonolgy had their Lenoir City and Roane County offices raided by federal agents last night: "Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, and agents from the office the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction combed through offices at EOD's Roane County facility, loading up large boxes and hauling them to a back room." Josh Flory (Knoxville News Sentinel) adds, "As many as a dozen agents, most wearing blue, Federal Agent windbreakers, were on site during the day, going in and out of the buildings. Agents were seen unloading equipment from unmarked vehicles and carrying paperwork between the various buildings on the EOD Technology campus. The agents also were seen escorting several occupants of the buildings to their vehicles."

At this point, no one's explaining the raids. Previous work examining war contractors has been done by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. Last week, Senator Byron Dorgan, Chair of the DPC, gave an overview on the Senate floor of what the DPC has encountered.

Senator Byron Dorgan: We've had whistle blowers come in. A woman came in and she told us she was working at a recreational facility in the war theater -- and that is, at the base, there's a recreational facility where you can go in and play pool and play ping pong and do various things. It was a facility with many different rooms. Well you were to -- She worked for Kellogg Brown and Root and she was to keep track of how many people came into the facility because they got paid based on how many people came into the facility. She said, "What they told me to do was to keep track of how many people came into each room and that's what we billed the government for." If somebody came in and went through three rooms, the government got billed for three visits by soldiers. And she said, "I went to the people in charge at our base and I said, 'This is fraud. We can't do this. We're defrauding the government'." She said, "They put in detention, in a room under guard, immediately and sent me out of the country the next day." It is the story at virtually all of the hearings that we have had. Now the point of it is two-fold. One, as I said, to protect America's soldiers and to do right by the men and women who've gone to war because this country has asked them to. But the second thing is, on behalf of the American tax payer, to decide if we are deep in debt, if we are choking on debt and deficit, to continue doing what we know is wrong, shoveling these contracts out the door without adequate accountability, is something we have to pay attention to.

Senator Dorgan did not run for re-election this year and will be leaving the Senate. This afternoon he will deliver a Farewell Senate Address:

For Immediate Release CONTACT: Barry E. Piatt

Wednesday or Jennifer Bronson

December 8, 2010 PHONE: 202-224-2551

Senator will review his work in Congress, discuss America’s current and future challenges

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) --- U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) is scheduled to deliver his farewell address in the U.S. Senate at approximately 2:00 PM EST (1:00 PM CST) on Thursday, December 9.
Dorgan is retiring from the Senate at the end of his term on January 3, 2011. His farewell address will be one of his final appearances on the Senate floor after 30 years of service for North Dakota in Congress.
The address can be viewed live via cable television on C-SPAN2. The speech will also be posted on the Senator’s official Web site at some point following the address.
During the address, Dorgan will review his work for North Dakota during his 18 years in the Senate and 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He’ll also discuss America’s current and future challenges.
The Senator currently serves as Chairman of the Senate’s Democratic Policy Committee; Committee on Indian Affairs; Energy and Water Development Subcommittee; and Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security. He is a senior member of the Appropriations, Commerce and Energy Committees.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends