Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden is calling on the Pentagon to investigate military contractor KBR, for what he's calling "excessive expenses" in its legal battle with members of the Oregon National Guard.
Several dozen soldiers are suing KBR. They say the contractor knowingly exposed them to a carcinogenic compound when they were assigned to provide security at a water treatment plant in Iraq during 2003.
During the case, it has emerged that taxpayers have to foot the legal costs for KBR. Wyden says review of those charges has found senior attorneys billing $750 per hour, taking numerous first class flights, and paying one consultant who admitted to billing for time spent sleeping.
Wyden said, "I'm asking that the Pentagon look at the legal costs, do a cost-benefit analysis and take charge of this case. It's time for the Pentagon to do the right thing both for American taxpayers and the guard members who have been affected by this."
Calls and e-mails to KBR were not immediately returned. But the company website says immediately after KBR became aware of potential contamination at the site, it began working to conduct air and soil testing and posted warning signs in English and Arabic. The case continues.