KBR subcontractor in Iraq gets U.S. contracts despite human trafficking allegations

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An Army dining hall in Iraq.

Maya Allernuzzo/AP

Documents released Tuesday by the Project on Government Oversight show that a Kellogg, Brown, and Root subcontractor accused of human trafficking in Iraq has continued to get government contracts despite concerns raised by the State Department, FBI and internally at KBR.

Najlaa International Catering Services, based in Kuwait, has been awarded six government contracts in the last two years, most recently on March 23, despite a State Department diplomatic cable in early 2009 and FBI e-mail in late 2008 raising suspicions about trafficking. Those communications followed a December 2008 protest by 1,000 Najlaa laborers being held without pay in abysmal conditions, according to a 2008 KBR inspection.

In one of multiple critical e-mails sent by KBR to Najlaa’s CEO, Bill Baisey, a KBR employee called the conditions of Najlaa’s “man camps” a “corporate embarrassment.”

Two other recent trafficking stories:

A 2010 joint investigation by The Center for Public Integrity and The Washington Post found that despite a 2002 directive by George W. Bush to prosecute employees and suspend or disqualify contractors accused of sex trafficking in U.S. war zones, numerous alleged instances of trafficking hadn’t resulted in any consequences for contractors or employees.

A 2011 investigation by the International Consortium of International Journalists found that foreign diplomats living in the U.S. frequently skirt serious consequences for instances of alleged trafficking because of diplomatic immunity.

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