Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR

A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.

Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.

“Don’t plan on working back in Iraq. There won’t be a position here, and there won’t be a position in Houston,” Jones says she was told.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave. more ater the jump

“It felt like prison,” says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming “20/20″ investigation. “I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened.”

Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

“I said, ‘Dad, I’ve been raped. I don’t know what to do. I’m in this container, and I’m not able to leave,'” she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

“We contacted the State Department first,” Poe told ABCNews.com, “and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen” — from her American employer.

Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones’ camp, where they rescued her from the container.

According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by “several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally.”

Jones told ABCNews.com that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped “both vaginally and anally,” but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.

A spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security told ABCNews.com he could not comment on the matter.

Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.

Legal experts say Jones’ alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.

“It’s very troubling,” said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. “The way the law presently stands, I would say that they don’t have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity for justice.”

Congressman Poe says neither the departments of State nor Justice will give him answers on the status of the Jones investigation.

Asked what reasons the departments gave for the apparent slowness of the probes, Poe sounded frustrated.

“There are several, I think, their excuses, why the perpetrators haven’t been prosecuted,” Poe told ABC News. “But I think it is the responsibility of our government, the Justice Department and the State Department, when crimes occur against American citizens overseas in Iraq, contractors that are paid by the American public, that we pursue the criminal cases as best as we possibly can and that people are prosecuted.”

Since no criminal charges have been filed, the only other option, according to Hutson, is the civil system, which is the approach that Jones is trying now. But Jones’ former employer doesn’t want this case to see the inside of a civil courtroom.

KBR has moved for Jones’ claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.

In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones’ claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator hired by the corporation would decide Jones’ case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.

In his interview with ABC News, Rep. Poe said he sided with Jones.

“Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom,” said Rep. Poe. “That’s why we have courts in the United States.”

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5 comments to Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR

  • KingElvis

    Did the employment contract mention gang rape? Criminal acts violate the terms – that should be null and void.

    How about if she were murdered – then would the victim’s family have to ‘arbitrate’?

    It’s all of a piece though – mercenaries outside of the reach of law – then the lawlessness within the mercenaries – why should it surprise us?

  • Tina

    Published on Saturday, June 9, 2007 ,by AlterNet.org

    Blackwater Sues Families of Slain Employees to Shut Them Up
    by Daniel J. Callahn / Marc P. Miles

    The following article is by Daniel J. Callahn and Marc P. Miles, the lawyers representing the families of four American contractors who worked for Blackwater and were killed in Fallujah. After Blackwater refused to share information about why they were killed, the families were told they would have to sue Blackwater to find out. Now Blackwater is trying to sue them for $10 million to keep them quiet. This article was first posted on AlterNet.org’s website.

    The families of four American security contractors who were burned, beaten, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their decapitated bodies hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River on March 31, 2004, are reaching out to the American public to help protect themselves against the very company their loved ones were serving when killed, Blackwater Security Consulting. After Blackwater lost a series of appeals all the away to the U.S. Supreme Court, Blackwater has now changed its tactics and is suing the dead men’s estates for $10 million to silence the families and keep them out of court.

    Following these gruesome deaths which were broadcast on worldwide television, the surviving family members looked to Blackwater for answers as to how and why their loved ones died. Blackwater not only refused to give the grieving families any information, but also callously stated that they would need to sue Blackwater to get it. Left with no alternative, in January 2005, the families filed suit against Blackwater, which is owned by the wealthy and politically-connected Erik Prince.

    Blackwater quickly adapted its battlefield tactics to the courtroom. It initially hired Fred F. Fielding, who is currently counsel to the President of the United States. It then hired Joseph E. Schmitz as its in-house counsel, who was formerly the Inspector General at the Pentagon. More recently, Blackwater employed Kenneth Starr, famed prosecutor in the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, to oppose the families. To add additional muscle, Blackwater hired Cofer Black, who was the Director of the CIA Counter- Terrorist Center.

    After filing its suit against the dead men’s estates, Blackwater demanded that its claim and the families’ existing lawsuit be handled in a private arbitration. By suing the families in arbitration, Blackwater has attempted to move the examination of their wrongful conduct outside of the eye of the public and away from a jury. This comes at the same time when Congress is investigating Blackwater.

    more

  • Tina

    Karen Houppert
    Editor’s Note: Lisa Smith is a pseudonym used on request. Additional reporting by Te-Ping Chen. Research support provided by the Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute.

    It was an early January morning in 2008 when 42-year-old Lisa Smith*, a paramedic for a defense contractor in southern Iraq, woke up to find her entire room shaking. The shipping container that served as her living quarters was reverberating from nearby rocket attacks, and she was jolted awake to discover an awful reality. “Right then my whole life was turned upside down,” she says.

    What follows is the story she told me on Monday in a lengthy, painful on-the-record interview, conducted in a lawyer’s office in Houston, Texas, while she was back from Iraq on a brief leave this week.

    That dawn, naked, covered in blood and feces, bleeding from her anus, she found a US soldier she did not know lying naked in the bed next to her: his gun lay on the floor beside the bed, she could not rouse him and all she could remember of the night before was screaming and screaming as the soldier anally penetrated her while a colleague who worked for defense contractor KBR held her hand–but instead of helping her, as she had hoped, he jammed his penis in her mouth.

    Over the next few weeks Smith would be told to keep quiet about the incident by a KBR supervisor. The camp’s military liaison officer also told her not to speak about what had happened, she says. And she would follow these instructions. “Because then, all of a sudden, if you’ve done exactly what you’ve been instructed not to do–tell somebody–then you’re in danger,” Smith says.

    As a brand-new arrival at Camp Harper, she had not yet forged many connections and was working in a red zone under regular rocket fire alongside the very men who had participated in the attack. (At one point, as the sole medical provider, she was even forced to treat one of her alleged assailants for a minor injury.) She waited two and a half weeks, until she returned to a much larger facility, to report the incident. “It’s very easy for bad things to happen down there and not have it be even slightly suspicious.”

    Over the next month and a half, she says, she faced a series of hurdles. She would be discouraged from reporting the incident by several KBR employees, she says. She would be confused by the lack of any written medical protocol for sexual assault (as the only medical person on site, she treated herself with doxycycline). She would wander through a tangled maze of interviews with KBR and Army investigators about the incident without any clear explanation of her rights. She would be asked to sign several documents agreeing not to publicly discuss the incident, she says. She describes having her computer–which she saw as her lifeline, her main access to the outside world–confiscated by KBR staff as “evidence” within hours of receiving her first e-mail from a stateside lawyer she had reached out to for help.

    And eventually she would find herself temporarily assigned to sleeping quarters between two Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) officials, who, she says, assured her that it was for her own safety, since her alleged assailants were at the same camp for questioning; they roamed freely. When she wanted to move about the camp to get meals etc., she was escorted.

    Smith felt very alone. But she was not.

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  • Tina

    Jamie Leigh Jones’s and Dawn Leamon’s story was covered on DigitalJournal.com here by Pamela Jean and here by David Silverberg.

    In a follow-up to that coverage, the abused employees have filed lawsuits against both KBR and Halliburton. Depsite raising many public complaints, and getting a great deal of media attention on her case, Jones has not received any fair judgement on her claims of rape. So now, Jones is suing the government to get justice. KBR is a subsidiary of Halliburton, and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney is a shareholder in it.

    When she worked with KBR in July 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones lived in a two-story barracks with 420 men and only 20 other women. She claims the facility she lived in was under direct control and supervision of the U.S. government and its employees. Jones says she was brutally raped and she complained to her supervisors about constant sexual harassment. She wanted to transfer to a safe environment, but nothing was done by KBR.

    On the same day she complained to her supervisors, she says she was drugged and brutally raped by several Halliburton/KBR firefighters. She woke up the next morning bruised and bloodied. She had to undergo reconstructive surgery after the incident and she is still recovering from the injuries.

    In the lawsuit, Jones is suing the government for negligent supervision and hiring of its contractors, and for failing to provide a safe living and working environment for women.

    more at digital journal

  • adrena

    with men at the controls, and a “the genes make us do it” mindset, getting justice for these women is going to be an uphill battle. Are there any good men around, by any chance?


    “While not a Playboy reader, she invites a male acquaintance in for a quiet discussion of Chagall, Nietzsche, jazz, sex.” – not a Hugh Hefner quote

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