Update [2005-3-31 18:47:57 by susanhbu]: Someone close to Ron is willing to answer our questions. See Recent Diaries, and please ask questions!

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usIn an exclusive interview today with Eli Chavez, 2004 Democratic candidate for Congress (1st District) in New Mexico, and the father of an employee of Halliburton subsidiary KBR in Iraq, Amy Goodman paints an dark portrait of the corrupt, racist, and dangerous environment among Halliburton/KBR employees at the Baghdad airport.

I have searched news and Web sites; there isn’t a single news story elsewhere about the shocking beating of Eli’s son, KBR employee Ronald Chavez — who is in a hospital ICU now — by eight fellow employees known as the “Red Neck Mafia” on Easter Sunday.

Eli Chavez, a decorated veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, a former Drug Enforcement Agency Special Agent, and veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division says his son almost died and is being transferred by military aircraft for medical treatment in Germany.

: : : The story below : : :
From Democracy Now!:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usYesterday, the father of Ron Chavez [PHOTO RIGHT] — who is from right here in Houston, Texas — sent a letter to the US Justice Department. It reads:

“My son Ronald Lee Chavez, an employee of Halliburton in Iraq, was severely beaten by peer Halliburton employees. These employees are known in Iraq as the Leesville, LA “Red Neck Mafia”.

Ronald was med-evaced to Camp Anaconda where he is in a US Military Hospital and remains there. According to my daughter in law Patti, Ronald is to be transferred to a military hospital in Germany because of Atria Fibrillation to his heart due to the severe beating. What I understand, Halliburton has advised Patti, that Ronald needs a Passport to get medical treatment at a Military Hospital in Germany.

While Ronald was in Albuquerque on R & R, he advised me that his Boss did not like him because Ronald is Hispanic; and that the “Red Neck Mafia” ran the operation for Halliburton at Baghdad Airport. Ronald further advised me that he had reported by Memorandum to higher authority within the Halliburton Chain of Command the vulnerabilities at Baghdad Airport regarding to terrorist attacks. Ronald further stated that higher authority was upset at his recommendations.

According to Patti, Halliburton advised her that they had sent 3 of the “Redneck Mafia” members back to the USA; and that Halliburton was not going to file criminal charges against them. They further … [incorrectly cut off here on Web page, and there’s no other copy extant.]

It is unclear who gave the order to dispatch Ronald to the location and/or who called for medical assistance. According to Patti, Ronald is waiting for a military aircraft to transfer him to Germany for treatment. Ronald is presently in ICU in serious condition.”

Portions from the in-studio interview of Eli Chavez:

ELI CHAVEZ: Well, I received a telephone call on the day after Easter, which would be Monday, I believe, and it was Patti on the line and she advised me that Ronnie had been beaten by fellow Americans, and I quickly disregarded the beating, but why from fellow Americans, and I became very angry at the time, and I decided that it’s time to take the bull by the horn and be upfront with what is happening to my son. My son was beaten brutally, and it was unnecessary, by these thugs that beat him, and it’s time for the United States government, and I have great faith in our judicial system, that it will do something about this. This has to be followed up by the Department of Justice, and I believe that they will do something about it. If not, we are in trouble in our country. …

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we did call KBR and asked them for a response. We asked them to join us on the program. After all, we are here in Houston, Texas. They responded, and this is a letter from Jennifer Dillinger, and I have to say, although they made clear that we are talking to Kellogg, Brown and Root, the subsidiary of Halliburton, it was interesting that Jennifer Dillinger’s email is from Jennifer Dillinger at Halliburton. But she responded, “As we previously stated, KBR is currently investigating the situation and cannot provide further details at this time.”

ELI CHAVEZ: Well, apparently they are, because they did send three of those people back to the United States without any prosecution or any criminal complaints filed against them.

Who is the Red Neck Mafia?

AMY GOODMAN: Right, but your son is here, living here. Can you talk about who this — what he calls the “Red Neck Mafia” — is?

ELI CHAVEZ: He explained to me at that time that his boss didn’t seem to like Hispanics, or he did not like a memorandum that he had written about the vulnerabilities at the Iraqi Baghdad Airport, and all he wanted to do was protect Americans and protect the people there, and it seemed like it backfired on him, and he became isolated by — it was a political thing, what he described to me, that he became isolated by the other employees and his boss.

AMY GOODMAN: And this group of people that beat him, who are they?

ELI CHAVEZ: What I understand and what Patti advised me, that these people were from Leesville, Louisiana, and Halliburton recruits heavily in that area and these are the people that they employed and sent to Iraq.

Next, Amy Goodman asks Eli Chavez about two e-mails from Ron, the “first, December 27, 2004, the second, January 11, 2005, just a few months ago,” and asked Eli Chavez to read his son’s e-mails:

ELI CHAVEZ: “Waiting on a response from the company guy, it might take it to Basra, a lot better situation down there.” He was trying to get transferred to southern Iraq, rather than being in Baghdad. “I have been working very hard to secure the airport, and it is a dangerous place. The company that runs the security is undermanned and when you have people in your perimeter, it’s almost impossible to secure. Plus, all the attitudes and perceptions people seem to have, I feel it’s not if a bomb will hit, but when. I am trying to persuade people, we need to move the operation to our own facility.” And what he talked about then was he was making a recommendation to moving the Halliburton operation into the controlled area, controlled by the military. That would give them additional security. And they were meeting resistance at the time. “However, I am meeting political resistance. I just want to save lives (American lives).” And he put that in parenthesis. “Cost is a terrible weapon. I love you guys. Give everyone a kiss, Ronnie.”

AMY GOODMAN: And that’s the letter he wrote to you December 27, 2004. Just about two weeks later, January 11, he said, “I’m doing pretty good, I’m involved with this airport more than my job title would suggest. Yesterday, Globe Security threatened to walk off the job if they weren’t paid by 3:00 p.m. They had not been paid in eight weeks. The army was not ready to take over their position, so they finally settled on a handshake deal. The Iraq government was taking the money from the U.S. and not giving it to Global. The money is probably in a Swiss account somewhere. These people are the most corrupt bunch I’ve ever seen. Everyone is on the take.” This is your son Ron, writing to you January in 2005.

ELI CHAVEZ: That’s correct.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think these emails had anything to do with his getting beaten up later?

ELI CHAVEZ: I don’t know any of the facts about whether he was beat up because of these emails, but I know that he was meeting a lot of resistance on the memorandum that he produced to Halliburton in regards to the security of the airport. He felt that the security of the airport was not secure. He felt that American lives were at stake and that he wanted to save those lives, and especially anybody that’s in that airport, he wanted to make sure everything was fine.

Do any of you know Eli Chavez? His son?

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Democracy Now!. NOTE: Portions of this transcript are missing. I’ve contacted DN to let them know about the errors. I’ve provided all I can. You can also listen or watch the show at Democracy Now!.

Eli Chavez believes that the U.S. government has jurisdiction over these eight men. He plans to pursue criminal charges against all of them.

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