July 25, 2007

Henry Waxman held oversight hearings on the construction of the US Embassy in Iraq. To say that the testimony coming out is explosive and damning to the State Department is putting it mildly.

The Gavel:

The Oversight Committee (held) a hearing, "Allegations of Waste, Fraud, and Abuse at the New U.S. Embassy in Iraq." The hearing will examine the performance of the State Department and its contractors in the construction of the new $600 million U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The Committee will be reviewing questions regarding the embassy compound construction as well as allegations of labor abuse through improper contracting practices.

Rory Mayberry, a former subcontractor employee for First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting Company, gives opening testimony:

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Rory Mayberry: "Mr. Chairman, when the airplane took off and the captain announced that we were heading to Baghdad, all you-know-what broke out on the airplane. The men started shouting, it wasn't until the security guy working for First Kuwaiti waved an MP5 in the air that the men settled down. They realized that they had no other choice but to go to Baghdad. Let me spell it out clearly: I believe these men were kidnapped by First Kuwaiti to work at the US Embassy... I've read the State Department Inspector General's report on the construction of the embassy. Mr. Chairman, it's not worth the paper it's printed on. This is a cover-up and I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to set the record straight."

John Owens, a former employee of First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting Company, gives opening testimony:

John Owens: "This was a man-camp, and by nature not the most pleasant of places to be. But the conditions were deplorable even beyond what a working man should tolerate. Foreign workers were packed into trailers tight, with insufficient equipment and basic needs like shoes and gloves. If a construction worker needed a new pair of shoes he was told 'no, do with what you have' by First Kuwaiti managers. The contract for these workers said they had to work twelve hours a day, seven days a week, with some time off on Friday for prayers. A few people from India told me they were making $240 a month..."

More videos available on The Gavel. (thanks to Nicole for her help)

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