by Araminta Wordsworth
October 21, 2009
Full Comment's Araminta Wordsworth brings you a regular dose of international punditry at its finest. Today: Jamie Leigh Jones has waited a long time for justice since allegedly being gang-raped in 2005 by fellow employees in Iraq. She's still waiting, but made some headway when the Senate passed an amendment that will bar U.S. defence firms from valuable government contracts if they refuse to allow employees access to the courts.
But the vote — surprisingly enough, considering the circumstances — wasn't cut and dry. Thirty Republican senators, including former presidential nominee John McCain, voted against the measure put forward by the newest senator, Al Franken of Minnesota. That set off a furor among Democrats.
"How is anyone against this?" wondered The Daily Show's Jon Stewart.
Jones, who was just 19 when she went to Iraq to work for KBR Inc., a Halliburton subsidiary that was fighting oil fires. She alleges that seven male co-workers spiked her drink with a date rape drug, then brutally assaulted her. When she came to, she says, her employer’s response was to lock her in a shipping container without food, water or a bed for at least 24 hours and threaten that if she left the country for medical treatment she would lose her job.
The woman was only able to escape after a friendly guard handed her a cellphone enabling her to call her father, who called their congressman, Ted Poe of Texas. Jones had to be rescued from captivity by officials at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
Halliburton did nothing to punish the rapists. Neither did the Justice Department or the U.S. military. The company told Jones she could not sue for redress in the courts because her contract said such claims had to be settled by arbitration — with the same people who were part of the cover-up. ...
VIDEO OF JAMIE LEIGH JONES' TESTIMONY BEFORE THE SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE