"Numbing Out" the Hired Help

Complaints Mount at US Fortress in Iraq
by David Phinney

WASHINGTON – Several months before a U.S. construction foreman named John Owen would quit in disgust over what he said was blatant abuse of foreign laborers hired to build the sprawling new U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Rory Mayberry would witness similar events when he flew to Kuwait from his home in Myrtle Creek, Oregon.

The gravelly-voiced, easygoing U.S. Army veteran had previously worked in Iraq for Halliburton and the private security company, Danubia. Missing the action and the big paychecks U.S. contractors draw there, Mayberry snagged a 10,000-dollar a month job with MSDS consulting company.

MSDS is a two-person minority-owned consulting company that assists U.S. State Department managers in Washington with procurement programming. Never before had the firm offered medical services or worked in Iraq, but First Kuwaiti — Owen’s employer — hired MSDS on the recommendation of Jim Golden, the State Department contract official overseeing the embassy project. Within days, an agreement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical care was signed.

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