Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Friday, 21 December 2007

GW's Utopia

The following appears in today's Australian On-line -


'Gang-raped by contractors'

A TEXAN woman who claims to have been raped by American contractors in Iraq testified in Congress yesterday, telling legislators she was kept under armed guard in her trailer after reporting the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, 23, said she was gang-raped inside Baghdad's Green Zone in July 2005 while she was working for Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc, which has contracts with the US military.

Ms Jones said she knew of at least 11 other women who were raped by US contractors in Iraq.

"This problem goes way beyond just me," she told the House of Representatives subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.

Ms Jones said that on her fourth day in Baghdad, some co-workers, whom she described as Halliburton-KBR firefighters, invited her for a drink.

"I took two sips from the drink and don't remember anything after that," she said.

The next morning she woke groggy and confused and with a sore chest and blood between her legs. She reported the incident to KBR and was examined by an army doctor, who confirmed she had been repeatedly raped vaginally and anally. The doctor took photographs and made notes and handed all the evidence over to KBR personnel.

"The KBR security then took me to a trailer and locked me in a room with two armed guards outside my door," Ms Jones testified. "I was imprisoned in the trailer for approximately a day. One of the guards finally had mercy and let me use a phone."

Ms Jones called her father in Texas, who called his representative in Congress, Republican Ted Poe, who contacted the State Department, which quickly sent personnel to rescue Ms Jones and fly her back to Texas.

"Iraq is reminiscent of the Old Western days and no one seems to be in charge," Mr Poe told the subcommittee. "The law must intervene, and these outlaws need to be rounded up and order restored."

Ms Jones said the rape was so brutal she was still undergoing reconstructive surgery. She tried to get her case resolved first through KBR channels, then through the Justice Department. When neither course seemed to work, she gave an interview to US television network ABC.

KBR has been silent on the matter, although the ABC said the company circulated a memo among employees signed by president and CEO Bill Utt saying it "disputes portions of Ms Jamie Leigh Jones' version and facts".

Ms Jones's KBR contract included a clause that prevents her from suing her employer, Mr Poe said. That would likely force her into arbitration, which he described as "a privatised justice system with no public record, no discovery and no meaningful appeal".

There are many laws that the Justice Department "can enforce with respect to contractors who commit crimes abroad, but it chooses not to," Democrat committee member Robert Scott said.

Fellow Democrat John Conyers said the incident showed "how far out of control the law enforcement system in Iraq is today".

There are 180,000 civilian contractor employees in Iraq, including more than 21,000 Americans.

So this is the model democracy being created in Iraq. Given the moral quality of both the incursion and the civilian contractors, it's not surprising. By their works you will know them.

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