KBR

A Tangled Web

Posted on December 15, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

25th of 25 in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day:

  • DDLS, Esq. = Dumpster Diving Legal Scavenger, par excellence.  Archaic:  slime bucket (Yep.  I made all that up.)
  • quash = declare in a court of law that something is not valid (MS-XP dictionary)

ONCE UPON A TIME, we had a model court system, a forum of relative fairness that allowed all parties equal time and opportunity to explain their respective sides of a dispute.  That forum had a referee (a judge skilled in court room procedure) with the outcome decided by vote of a panel of citizens (the jury) who should be hearing the details of the case for the very first time in this fair and orderly arena structured by the law of the land…   once upon a time.

Today, you can buy a $1.00 cup of HOT coffee, leave the vendor’s premises and pour it all over yourself, then sue the vendor who subsequently pays you $3,500,000, even though the only thing he did wrong was to sell you that $1.00 cup of coffee exactly the way you ordered it.

Today, you can take up a habit that YOU KNOW is socially objectionable and unhealthy to you AND bystanders, and, when you get the news that YOUR body (cough, cough) is checking out of this world because of your CHOSEN and rigorously ADHERED TO decision, you sue the manufacturer because of your REALLY BAD DECISION to be a cool, smoke blowing crowd follower.  Subsequently, you…   well, your survivors, anyway…   get millions of dollars from the tobacco manufacturer, who has been legally conducting business under the free enterprise system for a couple of centuries.

Today, as a private contractor, you can agree to back up your government in a war effort, with the expectation of receiving the same exclusions from war-zone related loses (by third-party interests) as the government that hired you.  That would be the very same exclusionary treatment enjoyed by every insurance underwriter and every service provider in the world regarding the unpredictable occurrences and results of ACTS OF GOD and ACTS OF WARAnd, your government writes that exclusion into your contract.

But, that government, in CONTRAVENTION of its CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT TO SHIELD YOU from such liability, allows you to be sued for millions of dollars under non-applicable rules governing private activities in a peace time environment as if war-zone losses/injuries were not the result of, nor under the influence of, combat operations.

The Judiciary (that third branch of GOVERNMENT, in case your civics and history classes are but a dim memory) should have honored the war powers of the Executive and Legislative branches and quashed such lawsuits from the outset as not subject to civil judicial review.

But it did not.  Enter the Doyle Raiznor law firm, and the anti big-contractor blogger, Ms. Sparky.  While the millions awarded by the civil jury (finding against KBR) sounds astronomical, it is probably little more than a bug-bite to that global contractor, who, most certainly, has no need of my services to “defend” it.  But, there is much more to this civil case than ungodly settlement amounts.  There is legal precedent.

A relic of the old fairy tale jury system is the taking of depositions to provide an attorney the means to ensure a fair appraisal of the available facts in a case.  If subpoenaed to provide this out-of-court testimony, an individual must appear or be guilty of contempt of court and subject to court penalties.  It is coerced testimony in the interest of fairness.  It is testimony to be used in case preparation and as a bench-mark for testimony given later in court.  “In court” being the operative term here.

KBR’s antagonist, the Doyle Raiznor law firm, has taken such coerced testimony from KBR employees and altered it to sound like a news documentary or opening/closing statement for the jury.  Had it been kept in-house for case preparation, no foul.

Amazingly, these actors decided on a different course.  Aided and abetted by one Ms. Sparky (a self-described hater of big contractors), that coerced testimony was cut into sound- and video-bytes and woven into a story line concocted by the law firm to bolster their non-existent claim.  Neither evidence supporting their allegations nor context of the questioning was provided, simply 5 minutes (out of 6 hours testimony, according to Ms. Sparky) of cut-and-pasted testimony surrounded by 5 minutes of barrister Doyle giving a monologue interspersed with silent-movie era dialogue cards.  Put up on the anti-KBR blog site (Ms. Sparky.com), this travesty of legal ethics was on display (… and I am guessing…) about 2 years, well ahead of the eventual court date.  The only way to describe this action is “a deliberate smear campaign against the reputation of KBR,” just to be certain the prospective jury pool (the public) leaned in favor of the plaintiffs…  before jury selection even started.

I do not think this action was necessary given the track record of juries in regards to finding against big business — big corporations are always found to be negligent.  When it comes to sticking it to big business, juries have been very accommodating.

The damaging legacy of this pre-trial smear is that no one in the judiciary called Doyle Raiznor on the carpet for what I can only characterize as unethical conduct.  If this is allowed to stand, then everyone called to give depositions in any civil litigation is subject to having their testimonies altered to fit the litigators’ story lines, then subsequently displayed on-line without the opportunity to present opposing or mitigating arguments.  To get to the targeted business’s coffers, the litigator can freely smear the employee in the public eye (just as KBR’s employees were) without contradiction so that the prospective jury will be conditioned against the business well before court time…   and vote appropriately at trial.

Bye-bye fair and equal treatment in a court of law…

…say hello to the NEW ORDER, the litigator controlled Litigation Nation.  (Hey, Doyle!  Feel free to use my made up acronym DDLS, Esq. on your business cards.  I won’t sue for copyright infringement.)

Next up:  Something just a little less strident than this has been.

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, deposition, sue, litigator

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A Martyr For The Looting Cause

Posted on November 7, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

24th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices.

Your words for the day (Yeah! MY definitions):

  • martyr = someone who dies so someone else can cash in
  • death = life’s other bookend — everybody gets one at birth (which is the first bookend)

Take any group of 1,000 people, and over a span of 5 years several of them will have died or be in the process of dying, succumbing to either accident or disease, the causes of which may be self-evident while some may be vaguely indefinable.

Take any group of 1,000 soldiers who have spent time in one of the recent tropical combat zones and over a span of 5 years a number of them will exhibit various sets of symptoms, and, be afflicted with vague, maybe debilitating or chronic maladies, and, yes, even death.  These veterans are provided medical care for disabilities for years after contraction.

These veterans can rightfully feel that their conditions are “not my fault.”  Yet, most of them accept that it follows from their commitment to serve their country in the military.  And, they know that war is unforgiving:  their mission is to kill, capture, and destroy, and, that means running the risk of injury, maiming, death or capture.  It is a contract between them and their government that they honor.

Civilian contractors sharing the same environment with those soldiers are subject to the same types of risks in performing their service to that same government.  Just as the soldiers are no longer playing war games under controlled conditions in the backwoods of Tennessee, the contractors are no longer doing business in the ordered environment of the good old USA, looking for ways to appease the gods of EPA and OSHA.  For both types, civilian and soldier, an entirely new set of rules apply:  survive the day, while making the military high command happy.

Ms. Sparky claims that a field grade national guard officer was poisoned by chemicals at Qarmat Ali.  (I am fairly certain that Ms. Sparky is not a licensed medical doctor and is simply and gleefully following the litigator’s lead.)  Doyle Raiznor is apparently representing that officer and several national guard units in a suit against KBR.  That officer has physical problems that Raiznor is attributing to chemicals at Qarmat Ali.  In a last interview by Raiznor (according to a sympathy-inducing dialogue card inserted into the video, the officer has since died) the colonel, at Raiznor’s prodding — and prepping, no doubt — states that the KBR employees had it easy because they had armed soldiers with them at all times.  The insinuation is that the soldier, standing in the same place as the civilian, had a much harder time…   than…   the civilian…   standing in the same place…   as the…   soldier?…    Huh!  If an RPG exploded within 15 feet of the civilian, that civilian would have exactly the same amount of protection with or without the soldier nearby.  You know…   NONE.

Let it be noted that there are a host of other soldiers and civilians who were NOT at the water plant who are also plagued with vague and serious physical maladies.  Viet Nam, the first Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq — all producing their shares of afflicted personnel.  There is obviously a general medical downside to crawling around in the tropics and the Mideast at any time, with or without a civilian contractor to scapegoat.

Playing the exposure game.  How come Raiznor has only one body to tout if he has hundreds of clients claiming exposure and injury?  How come that one body is that of a desk jockey (who rarely ventured from the comfort of the office) and not that of a combat grunt who spent days and weeks trampling around with the civilians in a supposedly toxic environment?  (I did my military service at several Army headquarters; I know where the brass hangs outIt isn’t in the foxholes.)

Raiznor’s martyr ploy is as weak as his “it didn’t happen in war” ploy and his phony “rebuttal witness” ploy.  But, in spite of all that, his quest for the spoils of war will continue, win or lose this round.  After all, his website touts him as a giant-corporation killer:  “Bring me your COPD, your hangnails, and irritable skin and I will get you some mo’ M-O-N-E-Yat very reasonable attorneys fees.”  Just watch for Sparky to revive the “shocking deposition” video after the current trial is over.

Next up:  FINALLY!  The summation

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, deposition, litigator, sued, cluster

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Just Your Head, Jack

Posted on November 6, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

23rd in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices.

Your words for the day (redux):

  • witness = (verb) to see first hand; (noun) one who saw first hand
  • first-hand = one is on the scene to witness an occurrence
  • weasel = be evasive or try to mislead

And what about Weasel #2, ol’ head of security Jack Alvarez?  He showed up for this KBR roast as directed by the subpoena.  Doyle  turned on the camera, shoved a “document” into his hands, asked him to read it, and then asked Jack to speculate on what he just read.  Now, we don’t know what the paper had on it.  Doyle keeps secrets; we obviously are to assume  it is some hush-hush communique from within KBR.  In response to those questions from Doyle, Jack cautiously said “this looks like KBR might have  known before hand about the bad chemicals.”  Doyle also asked, “IF KBR knew, what reason would it have to delay reporting the problem to the Army.”  Jack offered, “Well, they might lose incentive  money for finishing before a certain date, and clean-up operations could cause them to shut down the work until it was done.”  (I paraphrased that stuff.)

Be it noted that Jack acts very tentative about what he is saying.  Why?  Because he doesn’t know anything about the water plant task order.

Here we go again with the flim-flam.  Doyle is trying to whiz two things right past our ears:

  • KBR is working on a COST-PLUS basis.  The more things they can find to do in fulfilling the army’s requirements, the more they get paid.  The deadlines they are working toward are the Army’s operational time lines.  Dragging their feet on HAZMAT would be counter-productive and gain them nothing.
  • The reason someone from “security” is being questioned on contract fulfillment.  It is not established that Jack was at the water plant or exactly what kind of security he was the “head” of:  Document security?  Gate Security?  Motor pool security?  Office supplies security?  Yeah, I know.  He shows up in this video only because he was the Head of Something at KBR, and Doyle thought he could pass him off as an authority by shading what he answered in a negative tint toward KBR.

The KBR personnel testified straightforwardly without a hint of uncertainty, confident of their actions and knowledge.  Doyle attempts to refute them with dialogue cards, his own monologue, and a slovenly looking former “manager” (whom he tried to pass off as the head of a corporate department) who could only repeat speculation and rumor.   Poor ol’ Jack was maneuvered into analyzing a document he had never seen before and putting it in the context of a matter about which he had no first-hand knowledge.

Yeah, ol’ Super Dan has some big salt shakers…   but, I think this litigious entrée he has carefully served up is just a bit too salty to ingest.  One can only hope the eventual jury panel at trial is carefully watching its intake of salt.

Next up:  What price martyrdom?  (Honest, folks!  Just 2 more of these things)

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, sued, deposition, litigation, cluster

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You Can Only Testify To What You Know

Posted on November 5, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

22nd in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your word vocabulary list for the day (mostly from MS Word Dictionary):

  1. witness = (verb) to see first hand;  (noun) one who saw first hand
  2. first hand = one is on the scene to experience an occurrence
  3. hearsay = one was not on the scene, but, allegedly, heard about the alleged occurrence from another
  4. rebut = to deny the truth of something, especially by presenting arguments that disprove it
  5. whistle-blower =  (a Raiznor-implied hot-button) = informant; someone in the know who exposes wrongdoing, especially in an organization.
  6. turncoat = a traitor; someone who abandons a group or a cause and joins its opponents
  7. traitor = someone who is disloyal or treacherous
  8. evasive = not giving a direct answer to a direct question, usually in order to conceal the truth
  9. weasel = (1) sly or underhanded person;  (2) be evasive or try to mislead

Super Dan relies so much on the HOT BUTTON CRUTCH that he could qualify for a “Handicap Parking Permit.”  Six hours of testimony (according to Sparky) boiled down to a 10-minute video which includes 5 minutes of Doyle Raiznor doing monologues or flashing dialog cards, so, all he got was 5 minutes of KBR words that he thought he could paint in a negative tone. 

Doyle’s crutch is hot buttons.  Mine is sarcasm.  In keeping with that , I will characterize his “rebuttal” dudes as “weasels” (see word 9 above).  Why would I do that?  B’cawz neither of ’em is a witness (and, therefore, cannot be a whistle-blower) to the events they are touted to have information about.  The best Super Dan could get out of six hours of testimony is one smirking retelling of a rumor and one stammering stab at speculation.     …and, a lot of camera time for himself.

Elucidation you demand, elucidation I remand (not an exact usage, but it does rhyme).  One of the ploys arising from Super Dan’s epiphany was to remove the water plant incident from that infernal combat theater to the placid, conniving realm of corporate USA.  Our boy Ralph (Weasel #1) fills the bill for location, but, is he believable?  Well, if he is highly placed in the organization, then, ostensibly, he would have access to “privileged” information.  We are not told what Ralph’s position was in KBR, but, Doyle’s slick dialogue places him in the Health, Safety, and Environment Department from which K. Tseng worked — at corporate headquarters in Houston.  Sparky and Doyle  use different approaches to his title, but, both slide in the word “manager,” one with the capital M and the other, a lower case m.  Neither uses the definitive articles “a” and “the” but, the implication is clear.  Without saying so, the dynamic duo is letting the viewers conclude that Weasel Ralph is THE head of H-S-E department.  This should make his rumor believable to the unquestioning public…   so long as they don’t question.

This is the essence of Doyle’s questions to Ralph, the manager of something or other in Houston:

  • Now, Weasel #1, did KBR back in Houston know about the chemicals there before Tseng went on his assessment?  (Smirk) Oh, yeah!
  • Well, Weasel #1, before he left for Iraq, did Tseng make a list of those chemicals?  (Smirk) He didn’t have to (smirk).  He already knew.
  • Good boy, Weasel #l.  So, it was Tseng’s job to make a list of chemicals to check?  “Oh, yeah…   as I understand it.”

As…   I…   understand…   it…   !!?????????  What part of eye-witness are we having trouble with, Doyle?

Middle management!  That was Ralph.  How do I know?  Well, Doyle is leaving it up to my imagination to figure all this out.  My imagination proposes:

  • Ralph doesn’t know anything about the water plant;  he was stuck in Houston.
  • H-S-E consists of 3 different disciplines, hence 3 different sections to the department.
  • You got your Top Dog (i.e., THE Manager), 3 Section Chiefs, numerous unrelated middle managers.  And, Tseng.
  • Top Dog would KNOW what was going on in each section.  A Section Chief would KNOW what was going on in his section, but, not necessarily what other sections were doing.  A Middle Manager would KNOW what he and his subordinates were doing, but, not necessarily what other sections and associated middle managers were doing.
  • Ralph DOESN’T KNOW what Tseng was doing.  ERGO:  Ralph IS NOT the Top Dog, Section Chief, or even Tseng’s manager.
  • RALPH IS SPECULATING AND PASSING ON RUMOR OF SPECULATION.  HE JUST DOESN’T KNOW ANYTHING.

But, just showing up and moving your lips while Doyle writes the music to your words makes you thirsty.  In one frame, Ralph has no water.  An instant later, a half-consumed bottle of water shows up in front of him.  Magic?  Or proof of the old saw that lying will make your mouth dry?  Hey, Doyle’s the one who left me alone with my imagination and cynicism.  It’s not my fault if I’m overly abusive critical.

Next up:  Doyle wanted only his  head

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, sued, deposition, litigation, cluster

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Mary L. Wade, A Toast

Posted on October 13, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

21st in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day (definitions by TheDean01):

  • agreement = a mutual understanding based on a defined set of conditions
  • amendment = a mutually approved change or addition to a previously accepted agreement
  • performance = the act of accomplishing a contracted task

We must go back to the Raiznor version of the “deposition,”  in which he characterized the contract change order as an “indemnity” designed to make KBR immune from having to pay for KBR’s alleged disregard for humans.

  • Raiznor asked Ms. Wade:  “This indemnity…   it was to keep KBR from having to do…   what?”
  • Mary paused; then, shunning his obvious attempt to lead the answer, replied:  “NO!  It was about performance”  (of the contract).  (See change orders are the rule in the article Contracts set boundaries.)

As previously noted, contracts have conditions built into them based on certain assumptions.  If the base assumptions change, then contract performance can be affected.  Therefore, when new conditions threaten one party’s ability to perform within contracted parameters, that party will request changes to the contract, particularly if the originating party (the Client) has precipitated the new conditions.  If the client (like the US of A) should contract under peacetime conditions with a prime contractor, and then drops a war into the middle of the prime contractors accepted conditions, the prime contractor will want the client (the US of A) to pay for ALL the unexpected and unpredictable costs resulting from that war.  That is the ONLY way the contractor can perform the contract as originally agreed.  Change orders are both common sense and common business practice.

But, Raiznor keeps implying that the sole purpose of the change order to the LOGCAP was to keep from having to pay the costs resulting from hazards to humans.  A legal type from KBR read out that clause in Raiznor’s “deposition;” it was a blanket phrase covering EVERYTHING.  Super Dan then asked, “Does that include US civilians…   foreign national civilians…   US military…   British military…   ”  and a few others.  The legal type replied “yes” to each, and added that the clause did not “carve out any exceptions.”  Raiznor could have recited a 1,000-page compilation of “who’s who” names and the answer “yes” would have been given for each.  There is just something about that word EVERYTHING that makes itemizations sort of pointless.  But Raiznor is trying to instill — hopefully to a pre-conditioned anti-KBR crowd — that it is only human cost that KBR disregards.  And humans make up the prospective jury.  Raiznor doesn’t need a rational verdict; a sympathetic one will do just as well.

This little ditty is the cherry on top of my ice cream and cake dessert.  Super Dan, in the edited deposition, made a super obvious observation about an (alleged) issue, and asked, “Is that correct?”  Ms. Wade answered in the affirmative, and, all we got was silence from the Big Man.  Ms. Wade then restated her answer.  It was several viewings later before I realized what had taken place:

  • Ms. Wade had answered with a very indecorous “Yep” to the super obvious question.  Maybe I’m just hoping, but, I hear just a hint of snippishness in that “yep.”  Like Young Lee, maybe she is tiring of all the really stupid questions and assertions.
  • Ms. Wade continues to look off camera into the silence.
  • Then, without raising her eyebrows, her eyes widen…   In my mind, the possibility is raised that she is witnessing a brand new shade of color as Super Dan pulls off a spontaneous impersonation of an agitated cuttlefish
  • …and she restated her answer as a decorous “Yes.”  Mollified, Super Dan continues.  What I wouldn’t give to have seen his reaction to such impertinence toward his elevated status in the legal game…   profession…   legal profession.

Mary Wade, thank you.

  • First, for maintaining your composure amid Doyle’s attempts to hijack your testimony,
  • Second, for standing firm and rebutting his misstatements of conditions, and
  • Third, (oh, be still, my beating heart)…   for just reaching out with that “yep” and tugging on SuperDan’s cape.*

Calls for another toast.  For this one, I am uncorking a new bottle of wine from the Republic of Georgia.

  • To Mary.  Composure is you.  Thanks heaps for the show.

*Ashamed, I should be — but not, I am.  I dubbed ol’ Doyle Super Dan just so I could use this line about Superman’s cape.

Next up:  Rebuttal witnesses; shouldn’t they actually know something?

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, sued, deposition, litigator, cluster

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Mary L. Wade, Fence Rider

Posted on October 12, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

20th in the series The Great Cluster Fu...   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day (definitions courtesy of TheDean01)

  • fence = a structure that defines an area; a barrier designed to keep things inside
  • fence rider = one charged with maintaining the integrity of a fence

Shockingly casual and quick — that is how Raiznor characterizes the offering and acceptance of major government-funded contracts, implying back room maneuvering for greatest personal or corporate profit.  But, Raiznor is very carefully omitting a very prominent fact:  for Ms. Wade and the other parties to be able to go over the terms and conditions of a contract, there must first be…   well…   a physical contract to go over.  This means a printed document containing terms and conditions detailing the services to be rendered, the manner in which those services are to be rendered, and payment for said rendering.  But, wait!  That’s just the simplified version of what producing that contract would entail.  There’s more:

  • Conditions and terms must include compliance with all applicable references to Federal, International, and local laws which, in turn…
  • will refer to applicable published standards for engineering, construction, worker safety, environmental concerns, which,  in turn…
  • will itemize qualification requirements for engineers, technicians, welders, chemists who, in turn…
  • will submit those documents to the contractor employing those services.

In his drive to pre-condition potential jurors in his favor, Raiznor would have jurors believe that Ms. Wade and her KBR party arrived one morning at a 9:00 a.m. meeting site, selected a random sub-contractor from a line outside on the sidewalk, dragged him inside and asked, “Would you like to receive a billion dollar contract?”  That sub-contractor said, “YES!  You betcha.”  KBR said, “Great.  All you need do is to  hire 500 people in 24 different fields, test them and get their certifications and personal information, get them to agree to do their work while under the threat of being blown up by less-than-happy locals, confirm that under every law known to man you can do all this legally, and get that back to us within 1 hour and 48 minutes after you said ‘You betcha.’  That will leave us 12 minutes to get all that you have submitted confirmed through our engineering, health-safety-environment, procurement, and legal departments AND get this 10 pound contract all typed up and printed so Ms. Wade can go over the terms and conditions with you before we scatter for lunch.”

Yeeaah…   that c-o-u-l-d happen…   IN ANOTHER UNIVERSE.

So, what does Ms. Wade do as Senior Contracts Manager?  I don’t really know, but, from what I have read on-line and heard from her testimony, and from my own industrial experiences, I think I can take a reasonable stab at an outline (if I’m off the mark, ignorance is always my fallback position):

  • She must be knowledgeable of what the client (in this case, the US of A) wants (terms, conditions, overall objectives), and, what KBR will do to perform that contract (task order).  Much of what the LOGCAP entails is standard across the board, but individual task orders will carry variations on performance expectations.
  • She DOES NOT create the terms and scope of contracts.  That task originates with the client and is fleshed out by the various disciplines within KBR (legal, procurement, health-safety-environmental, engineering, cost estimating, construction, logistics, etc.).  Her duty is to understand the completed contract and point out omissions or errors in complying with the client’s contract protocols, as well as KBR’s internal requirements.
  • She explains the terms, conditions, and scope of contracts that KBR subs down to other contractors, making certain they know performance expectations and billing protocols.
  • She raises the red flag on actions that can be interpreted as outside the client’s or KBR’s stated administrative protocols.  (That “invoicing for private security” thing is a prime example.  She cautioned — in an email bearing her correct job title — that such action was probably NOT in compliance with the LOGCAP protocol, since the military was the one to provide physical security.  She could not forbid the invoicing, only warn of its probable irregularity.)

Contracts set boundaries.  Call those boundaries fences.  All parties to that contract must operate within the fenced confines in order to claim the benefit declared in the contract.  Ever cognizant of the buzzards (litigators) and rail-birds (somebody-owes-me-something plaintiffs) trying to roost on their contract fences, corporations like KBR make it a point to toe the legal line.  That is why, like cattle ranchers, they employ fence riders such as Mary Wade (and legal experts in several fields, environmental specialists, etc.) to keep all parties in tune with the client’s wishes and all mandated legal standards.  That does not mean they will never misstep, but, that diligence removes the element of reckless disregard from their operations.

Mary Wade in western wear boots, chaps, hat, saddle, horse…   That’s a far better picture than Doyle Raiznor in blue Superman tights and red boxers.  (I apologize, Mary, for taking that liberty.  I just couldn’t resist.)

Next up:  Another toast

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Ms. Sparky, litigator, sued, cluster, deposition

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Mary L. Wade, Lady of the Contracts

Posted on October 8, 2012. Filed under: KBR | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

19th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices.

Your words for the day:

  • avarice = an unreasonably strong desire to obtain and keep M-O-N-E-Y
  • surreal = bizarre, distorted, weirdly dreamlike

Ms. Wade seems to be the focus of Raiznor’s push to his objective, which would be Litigators’ Nirvana — the mother lode promised by a massively successful class-action lawsuit against a giant corporation.  It is a no-holds-barred campaign of avarice to get something for nothing in keeping with the mantra of the Litigation Nation…   drum-beat and lyrics supplied (oh, surprise of surprises) by litigators.

As noted in the two previous posts, ol’ Doyle used Tseng to hint at “cover-up” and “obstruction,” while trying to paint Lee as the personification of a corporate “culture of indifference” toward human safety, if that safety interfered with getting just one more dollar from that government contract.

But, KBR’s Lady of the Contracts has been cast in a different sort of role for this litigator’s rewrite of reality, one that seems to be the pivot point of his twisted path through a surreal dream-scape.  (Her image is the header on the un-ethical video displayed on Sparky’s website.  By default, she becomes the image of a greedy corporation.)

In keeping with his theme of negligent business behavior, Super Dan and Ms. Sparky have re-titled her as “senior contract negotiator” and “chief contract negotiator,” respectively, to insinuate a wide ranging latitude in dispensing taxpayers’ money.  As noted in previous posts, the correct title is Senior Contracts Manager, which carries the inference of tight control over terms and performance of contracts.  That would not be good for Raiznor’s pipe dream;  thus, the instant makeover.   You can bet that Raiznor knows Ms. Wade’s correct title; he had to have it right when he subpoenaed witnesses and documents from KBR.

That word “negotiator” has several meanings.  Super Dan used it in questions to Ms. Wade, and Ms. Wade responded in a manner that seemed to agree with his use —

  • How long did this negotiation take?  Long enough.
  • A few hours, a day?  One morning.
  • So, you are saying this whole deal was negotiated in just one morning?  Yes.   …No, we went over the terms and conditions of the contract in the morning.

It is not evident what set-up questions Raiznor employed to get Ms. Wade to think they were using her understanding of the word “negotiate” since he carefully left those on the cutting room floor.  But, when it hit her what he was driving at, she spelled out what she meant by “negotiated” —  going over the terms and conditions of the contract.  Since this was obviously the closing of a contract, signatures of all now-satisfied parties would then have been affixed to the contract.

“Closing a contract” is one of the definitions of negotiate.

“Meeting and wrangling over the how and what” of a deal is another one.  Raiznor wants you to see Mary Wade (and, by extension, KBR) as an unconscionable bargainer, hammering out quickie, lucrative deals for KBR regardless of human cost.

Raiznor, again under the spell of hot buttons, generalizes in one of his insertions, “This deal between KBR and our government was put together in a shockingly casual way in a short time...”  It must have galled him that Ms. Wade clarified what was done at that morning meeting, but he made the best of it with that spliced-in, nebulous monologue implying reckless haste in pursuit of LOGCAP money.

Next up:  Shockingly casual — only in another universe.

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Ms. Sparky, Doyle Raiznor, litigator, lawsuit, contract

 

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The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is…

Posted on September 28, 2012. Filed under: KBR |

18th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices.

MY SHOW AND TELL ON SPARKY’S SITE HAS BEEN PULLED.  IN ITS PLACE IS THE STATEMENT “THIS VIDEO IS PRIVATE.”  AFTER…   WHAT?  2 YEARS OR SO?…   OF PUBLIC DISPLAY, WHAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE LEFT ATTORNEY’S CHAMBERS IN THE FIRST PLACE  IS SUDDENLY A PRIVATE VIDEO?  TOO CLOSE TO COURT APPEARANCE?  JUDGE MIGHT CONSIDER IT AN UNETHICAL TACTIC…   OR JURY TAMPERING?

Your word for the day:

  • panic = be or make somebody suddenly extremely afraid, often without good cause (Windows XP dictionary) 

Poor Chicken Little.  Unlike its human counterpart, Sir Isaac Newton (the gravity guy, not the cookie cook) Fowl Little did not have the luxury of time to sit around waiting for inspiration to explain Nature’s vagaries.  While going about the daily routine it was designed to do — you know, barnyard ground-scratching and pecking — it got conked on the head, said conk arriving from above.  Nothing up there but the blue sky.  Down there at the bottom of the food chain*, thinking is a time waster.  Instant reaction is where it’s at.  Conk on head + only blue sky above + run-now-pray-later instinct = sound the alarm and run like hell.  What alarm?  Well, duh!  Obviously, the freaking sky is falling.  Spread the word!  Spread the word!

Young Lee, a KBR employee, is not a chicken.  But, in pursuit of the M-O-N-E-Y, Super Dan was in need of more mud to fling on the faceless, high-profile corporation, KBR.  In keeping with his theme of unconcern about the health of employees and everyone within 50 miles of Qarmat Ali, the Dynamic Duo (Spark-Igor and Franken-Raiznor) needed someone who refused to be Chicken Little…   in Raiznor’s little fairy tale, someone who failed to blow the whistle on alleged corporate foot-dragging.  The best he could do was an email by Young Lee allegedly alluding to knowledge of the subject chemical spill.  (I had planned to zoom in on the thing for details when writing this article, but I waited too long and the Dynamic Duo pulled their “evidence.”)

Not a chicken, but a fully functional member of the species Homo sapiens sapiens (he is neither “fowl” nor “Neanderthal”), Mr. Lee is quite capable of assessing where his responsibilities are.  Super Dan must have been asking Lee stupid questions for quite some time (cut out of the on-line version of the deposition) judging from Lee’s apparent irritation.  The only gist and question Raiznor had was whether Mr. Lee did not feel  it was his responsibility to alert everyone in the Mid-East about a danger that was only evident after the fact.  Super Dan, in effect, implies that Lee should have immediately jumped up from his desk, ran to his supervisor shouting, “We are being poisoned, we are being poisoned !!!!!  From there, out into the parking lot, into the field of operations, telephone calls to the pentagon, carrier pigeons delivering the news to every commander in the Iraqi theater of operations, tweeting to Facebook and whatever.  His failure to do all that, Raiznor seems to imply, was criminal inaction…    or litigation fodder.

Would Raiznor have been happy if one of his subordinates, outside of assigned job duties and area of expertise, and with only indirect knowledge of a matter, went around shouting, “Super Dan is going on a smear campaign against KBR before trial even begins, Super Dan is sliming KBR !!!”  NO.  And, he would have taken punitive action against such an employee for stepping outside the recognized, and, contracted for, area of expertise.

Young Lee knew his level in the corporate hierarchy.  He knew his duties.  His email may well have alluded to “chemicals” even though he had nothing to do with searching, discovering, or reporting them.  His work responsibilities would require him to consider the impact of information learned even through second-hand sources.  But, the Army contract is very specific.  There was a prescribed channel of information flow between KBR and the Army, often referred to as a chain of command.  Young Lee was not in the “notification” chain as specified by contract.  He reported to his supervisor, who reported to his supervisor, who reported to…   The Army would take a dim view of anyone usurping its operational authority in a combat zone.  Army command would notify its subordinates of anything they thought the subordinates should know whenever it thought subordinates should know.  I did not see a military uniform on Mr. Lee during his inquisition.

Here, I offer another toast…   you know which wine:

  • To Mr. Young Lee for his valiant show of inner strength;  you did not get up and bitch-slap the living daylight out of someone very much in need of it.  Bravo!

*There is a 99.99999% chance that Chicken Little would eventually play the part of entrée at a chicken dinner.

Next up:  Mary L. Wade, Lady of the Contracts

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Ms. Sparky, Doyle Raiznor, Qarmat Ali, litigator

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Those Ever Popular “Missing Files”

Posted on September 27, 2012. Filed under: KBR |

17th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

WHOA!  LOOK AT SPARKY’S SITE.  THE PHONEY DEPOSITION VIDEO HAS BEEN PULLED WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT “THIS VIDEO IS PRIVATE.”  CURRENT COURT DATE IS OCTOBER 9, 2012.  WHAT’S UP, DOYLE?  GETTING THE MUD OFF YOUR SHOES BEFORE THAT COURT APPEARANCE?

Your words for the day:

  • missing = not present in an expected place
  • critical = absolutely necessary for something
  • jump to a conclusion = to form an opinion or judgement hastily

Raiznor’s goal here is to instill the idea of cover-up and lying about what was at SADDAM HUSSEIN’S water plant. 

Therefore, it is important to Raiznor that some unidentified, preferably unidentifiable, files be missing so he can claim that they are critical.  But, if they are in fact missing, how can he know whether they are critical?  If he doesn’t know what they are, how can he subpoena them?  No need to bother your jury-minded self about that; he “said” they are critical, so they “must be” critical.  Ergo, WE GOT A COVER UP IN PROGRESS !!

DON’T BUY IT.  IT’S ANOTHER SMOKE SCREEN.

The set-up:  K. T. (maybe that’s K.Y. – Sparky has shown she can’t get all the facts straight) Tseng testified that he went to SADDAM’S water plant several times in ’03, and, in keeping with his job duties, sent in reports.  The reports that KBR provided to refresh his mind for the deposition session made him “happy with what I saw.”  In the several times he went to SADDAM HUSSEIN’S water plant, he saw no chemicals, nor did he see evidence of chemicals.

Doyle’s query:  “Were you shown all the files you sent in?”  K.T.’s response:  “No.”

DOYLE’S UNCALLED FOR and SPLICED-IN claim:  “KBR is still missing critical files.”

The hot button inference:  KBR is hiding/destroying/withholding files needed to prove negligence (i.e., a delay in reporting SADDAM HUSSEIN’S spill), much like those financial scam principals who diligently (allegedly) set about destroying files.

Here are questions Raiznor DID NOT ask, so Tseng couldn’t answer them.  NOT TO WORRY.  I’ll ask them…   and answer them for Tseng:

  • What other reports did you send in?  (Other crap.)
  • What files were you not shown?  (Other crap.)
  • Why did they not show them to you?  (They…   ?!  …did not fit the parameters of your subpoena !??)
  • Were those un-shown files pertinent to what I am asking about?  (???   …what part of “other crap” do you NOT understand?)
  • Were you shown all the files that my subpoena said you were going to be questioned about?  (As far as I know.)

Super Dan then asked the loaded, highly presumptive, and speculative question, “Was there any legitimate reason why those files were not maintained?”  Now, K. T. did not say that those files were not maintained; simply that he was not shown all the reports that he sent in.  Danny boy them glibly penciled in “files were missing,”  “files were critical,”  “files were not maintained,” referring to his own editorial descriptors as though they were sworn testimony.  There was ample opportunity here for K.T. to walk right into that trap and say something Super Dan could further twist to his advantage.  But, K. T. rose to the challenge and delivered a super answer that ol’ Doyle didn’t bother to pursue.

So, here, I offer a toast to K. T. (or K. Y.) Tseng for shutting Super Dan’s mouth (using, of course, a red wine from Georgia — the country, not the state):

  • To K. T.’s super answer, an off-handed, and, by now, disinterested, “I DID NOT ASK!”  Bravo, K. T.

One thing not brought out in the so-called deposition is the real nightmare involved in maintaining and retrieving files from the archives of a global corporation such as KBR.  To get an idea, lets use the example of your purchase of a vehicle on a three-year contract.  The vehicle cost, with interest for the loan period, is $25,000.  With gasoline, repair costs, regular maintenance costs, and insurance costs you have put in about $45,000 for your 3-year contract.  For this you have amassed somewhere around 750 documents (some with multiple pages) for all your expenses, policies, contract terms, claim forms, proof of insurance, etc.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of documents to file, but — for comparison — SADDAM HUSSEIN’S water plant contract was around 1 billion dollars.  That kind of money will get you about 22,300 vehicles like yours, each generating that 750 documents over the contract term.  That comes to about l,500,000-plus documents you  have to process and file to your archive.

That 1.5 million documents does not include certification documents from each sub-contractor involved in building, maintaining and financing your vehicles, as KBR would have been required to have.  Nor does it include weekly expense or use reports  (with duplicates of previously mentioned receipts) from the operators of the vehicles.  [Let’s see;  11,000 reports per week (we’ll assume that half of those vehicles are in the motor pool at any one time), 156 weeks = WOWWW!  An additional 1.7 million documents.

Total document guesstimate:  3.2 million documents just for one 1-billion dollar contract.  KBR lives by contracts and has many such during a single year.  For archiving purposes, think Indiana Jones:  Raiders of the Lost Ark, final scene:  a large warehouse filled with  stacked pallets of file boxes.

Now, if Super Dan (or one of his ilk) should ask you 5 years after you have stashed all that paper for a few documents from a specific time period, would you be surprised if you didn’t locate some of those documents?  Neither would Super Dan, but he’ll sure make hay out of it.

Next up:  The sky is falling!  Chicken Little, where are you?

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Ms. Sparky, Doyle Raiznor, Qarmat Ali, litigator

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About That No-Bid Thing

Posted on August 26, 2012. Filed under: KBR, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

16th in the series The Great Cluster Fu…   A treatise on questionable journalism and pre-litigation practices

Your words for the day:

  • ignorance = a lack of knowledge about a specific subject (Windows XP dictionary)
  • manipulate = influence or manage shrewdly or deviously; to tamper with or falsify for personal gain (thefreedictionary.com)
  • perception = the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses (Wikipedia)

LOGCAP bid submissions are basically beauty resumes.  Organizational stability and efficiency, as well as global logistical and engineering capabilities, would be some of the points the Army would be looking at.  The intent of the LOGCAP is to have one pre-approved contractor on tap who would receive all work projects (task orders) WITHOUT THE TIME-CONSUMING FORMALITY of individual job bid submissions.  Task orders, under the LOGCAP, are done on a cost-plus basis so the selected contractor can begin immediately to fulfill the Army’s needs.  Government accounting offices would verify whether invoicing is consistent with its understanding of the contract terms.

During questioning of Ms. Wade, Raiznor refers to a “no-bid deal.”  Ms. Wade agreed, it was a no-bid.  But, due to Raiznor’s cut and paste video, it is not clear to the viewer (that be me) just what deal and just who the parties to that “no-bid deal” were.

  • If he is referring to the LOGCAP, KBR did submit a successful bid and was awarded the LOGCAP III Prime Contractor title.
  • If he is referring to government’s decision to NOT put the LOGCAP up for re-bidding at the start of the War on Terror, that was an operational decision by the Army in favor of continuity of logistical support during warfare.  After restructuring the LOGCAP protocol embodied in LOGCAP IV, the Army made the same operational decision of continuity of support by maintaining the LOGCAP III single-contractor format (KBR) in the Afghan combat zone.  Even without Dick Chaney in the White House.
  • If he is referring to a task order sent to KBR for the water plant rebuild, he is referring to the “NO-BID” basis of the LOGCAP concept.
  • If he is referring to a contract between KBR and a selected sub-contractor, he is using a FAST-TALKING CON to skirt past the fact that, as a private contractor and NOT a government agency, KBR does not have to ask for bids on anything.

Just as the Army had a favorable view of KBR from previous performance history, KBR — in the business of global engineering and logistics for more than half a century — has built up a registry of favored sub-contractors with whose work, capabilities, and certifications it is familiar.  It is simply a matter of picking one, presenting the project to it, and resolving any matters not in compliance with the Army’s requirements.

KBR WON THE BID to be the prime contractor under the LOGCAP III contract, and, thereby, receive ALL TASK ORDERS WITHOUT FURTHER BIDDING.  So, yes, Super Dan, ANY “deal” KBR had relevant to the war effort was a NO-BID “deal.”   …duh!

Super Dan is running a con disguised as legitimate litigation.  He knows that Mary Wade’s official title is “manager” and not “negotiator” — he had to have it right on those subpoenas for testimony and documentation; he knows that KBR, as LOGCAP prime contractor, received all task orders without the bidding process; he knows that the change order he characterized as an indemnity add-on is in response to the Client’s change in the conditions (like tossing a war in front of them) under which its Contractor (KBR) would have to perform those task orders; and, Raiznor knows that, by and large, the public is blissfully ignorant of all this.  Without competing information to focus public (i.e., jury pool) awareness, it is easy for Raiznor to manipulate the public’s perception by his slick tabloid-papparazzi-soap opera-novella-yellow press effort in his pursuit of the gold (that yellow metal, not medal).

Competing information…   yeah…   that would be the intent of this treatise, although spoofing Sparky and razing Raiznor are a lot of fun.  But, as observed by Raiznor, the public is mostly ignorant of government spending protocols, particularly so when it comes to the mind-boggling amounts involved in defense spending.  Raiznor is banking* on that void to “authenticate” his made up non-war story, even though it is predicated on the ludicrous premise that military operations cannot proceed until an environmental impact study is completed, and, that all combat-related projects must be bid on by several companies before they can be implemented.  So, what’s next, Doyle?  Requiring all company commanders to hold a vote among their troops on whether they want to storm that pesky machine-gun emplacement?

* Oh!  How he wishes.

Next up:  Elusive files

Series references:  KBR, Mary L. Wade, Qarmat Ali, Doyle Raiznor, Mrs. Sparky

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