The CBS Evening News(12/22, story 8, 3:30, Smith) reported that on since the beginning of the war in Iraq, may be facing yet another scandal." CBS added, in April, 2003, James Gentry of the Indiana National Guard arrived in southern Iraq to take command of more than 600 other guardsmen. Their job: Protect KBR contractors working at a local water plant. Guardsman Gentry stated, "We didn’t question what we were doing. We just knew we had to provide a security service for the KBR." Today Gentry is dying from a rare form of lung cancer which he believes was caused by months of inhaling hexavalent chromium, an orange dust which is part of a toxic chemical found all over the Iraqi plant. At least one other Indiana guardsman has already died from lung cancer and others are said to be suffering from tumors and rashes consistent with exposure to the deadly toxin. CBS "has obtained information that indicates KBR knew about the danger months before the soldiers were ever informed. … A new internal Army investigation obtained exclusively by CBS News says the Army’s medical response was prompt and effective. But even after a briefing today, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh says that KBR has a lot to answer for." KBR has been paid more than $28 billion by our government since the beginning of the war in Iraq [that’s BILLION not million!]. You may recall that KBR is an offshoot of VP Cheney’s old firm, Haliburton, and that the administration awarded the $28 billion to KBR on a no-bid basis. It is outrageous that KBR knowingly exposed our brave troops to a deadly toxin. This is a perfect example of why this country needs a tort system that is free of over-regulation by the government. Because, if the current administration had its way, injured citizens like Guardsman Gentry would be out of court. KBR would either be immune from liability or the federal government would be deemed to have preempted the plaintiff’s right to sue for damages. I encourage everyone to read the Seventh Amendment. The framers put it in the Constitution for a very good reason.
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