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Halliburton/KBR Gang-Rape Cover-Up Makes Waves

An ABC News story at The Blotter by Brian Ross has got lots of folks talking about the rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, a Halliburton/KBR employee in Iraq. RedState, Jezebel, others have reported on the story. Ben Domenich at Red State points, disapprovingly, to The Jawa Report and Ace of Spades, both whom question the story. Domenich states:

Given all of this, the fact that two writers I respect, Ace and Rusty, have taken to already questioning this case as if it was some trumped up anti-Bushco charge, when there is absolutely no evidence to support such a theory except their own perceptions, is particularly saddening to me. This is a report from Brian Ross, not Michael Moore. It is depressing when the immediate knee-jerk reaction to a sad case like this, by those you consider allies, is to view it solely through the prism of their political views.

After pouring through the case history it appears that push for publicity about the case is about moving both the criminal and civil cases forward as opposed to making some sort of political statement.

First, this case doesn't appear to be anything like the Duke Lacrosse rape case, despite what some would have you believe. Those who seem bent on trying to prove that there was no rape might be interested in this from Jamie's journal (PDF):

July 25, 2005- I arrived in Greenzone, Baghdad via an armored hard car. Upon arrival I discovered that I was housed in a predominately all male barracks. I never even saw one female located in the same barracks.

July 26, 2005 US/ July 27 Baghdad- I sent several e-mails to management to ask to be moved into a container because I was experiencing cat calls even when I was walking through the barrack to get to the restroom. I received the response that I would be fine if I "go to the spa." There was no spa in Greenzone, Baghdad . I started socializing with some Halliburton/ KBR employees, including approximately four or so firefighters. One of these men prepared me a drink and joked that there were no "rooffies" in it, and handed it to me. After having a couple sips, I passed out. I was drugged.

July 28, 2005 US/ July 29 Baghdad- I awoke the next morning in the barracks to find my naked body battered and bruised. I was still groggy from whatever had been put in my drink. I was bleeding from between my legs and my breast implants were severely disfigured. (I found out later that my attackers tore my pectoral muscles due to the brutality of the attack). One of the men who had raped me was brazen enough to be lying in the bottom bunk of my assigned bunk bed. After getting to the clinic and having a rape kit performed, and pictures taken of my bruising, I was locked in a container with no food, no way to call my parents, and was placed under armed guard by Halliburton. I did not have access to soap, toiletries, a tooth brush, or any of my belongings. I was unable to leave, therefore I was imprisoned. After some time, one of the guards allowed me to use his cell phone out of sympathy. I called my father back in Houston, who quickly contacted Congressman Ted Poe, who then initiated a Congressional Inquiry to get me out of Baghdad . At this point I was in a state of shock, severely traumatized, and was scared for my life.

...May 8, 2007- I received a letter of determination from the EEOC stating that their investigation determined in my favor stating that I was "indeed sexually assaulted by one or more of the Respondent employees and physical trauma was apparent. Respondent's investigation was inadequate and did not effect an adequate remedy". Due to the reason that the management didn't investigate my housing situation, the EEOC found a violation against Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

So, if the journal is to be believed, the EEOC has already determined that a sexual assault took place.

The identity of one of her attackers is known. From the complaint (all documents here)

Tragically, on the evening of July 28, 2005, during her off-duty hours, Jamie was drugged (by what was believed to be Rohypnol) and brutally raped by, on information and belief, several Halliburton/KBR firefighters, including defendant, Charles Boartz, while she was in her room in the barracks. When she awoke the next morning still affected by the drug, she found her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants were ruptured, and her pectoral muscles torn which would later require reconstructive surgery. Upon walking to the rest room, she passed out again. When she returned to the living area, she found Charles Boartz lying in her bottom bed. She asked him what had happened, and he confessed to having unprotected sex with her.

Jones' lawyer make an interesting claim about her alleged assailants:

...They failed to properly investigate the history of Jamie's assailants prior to hiring them when they should have known, or did know, of the assailants' criminal and/or violent propensities;

Perhaps Boartz has a criminal record? Unfortunately Ross didn't follow that angle.

Perhaps part of the problem is the nature of The Blotter's headline and tone of the story ABC reports. For comparison if you read this FindLaw story about the case it's substantially less conspiratorial than the ABC version. It's a good summation of the legal pleadings, with one notable error - the alleged rape occurred in July 2005 (just days after her arrival in Iraq) and not in July 2006.

In researching the story I've noted (though I can't remember where it was seen) that Jones was placed in the trailer so that she would not have to continue residing in the co-ed residence where the rape allegedly occurred. Whether that move was (or was not) at her own request is unknown. The ABC report and Jamie's journal highlight the "captive" angle, the lawsuit does not. From the pleading:

...Immediately following her physical examination, she was placed in a trailer with a bed, a shower and a sink, but without a television, and was refused phone calls to her family despite repeated requests, which amounted to a false imprisonment;

b. She was confronted by KBR supervisors, who gave her two options:
i. Stay and "get over it"; or
ii. Return home without the "guarantee" of a job on return.

These options amounted to an unlawful threat to terminate her job for reporting her attack, and dealing with its aftermath.

Ultimately, Jamie was able to convince a guard to let her call her father on his cellular phone. Jamie's father was then able to enlist congressional assistance to get his daughter home.

Her retelling is a bit more vivid, but the 24 hour lock down and removal from the scene of the alleged crime seems to be the least important part of the story.

Another interesting tidbit that doesn't jibe with the ABC story is that the rape kit is not lost, nor does it appear to have been given to KBR security, or otherwise nefariously eliminated. From Jamie's journal:

May 3, 2007- I was told by the state department that my rape kit was missing. The state department had previously ensured both of my parents that the rape kit had made it back to Washington before I even arrived back to the US . I had my mom call the state department to refresh their memories.

May 4, 2007- The rape kit was found, however the pictures of the bruises and the doctor's notes from that day were still (and are currently) missing.

May 7, 2007- I was told to sign a release form so that the state department agent assigned to my case could try and recover the lost pictures and doctor's notes, by giving the signed medical release form to the hospital that I went to in Baghdad and to the doctor that performed the rape kit.

...May 31, 2007- Lynn Falanga called me to tell me that the AUSA took on my case as an "intake" so that they could investigate my case diligently. In regards to the missing pictures and doctor's notes that were taken in Baghdad Lynn Falanga and I both called the doctor that performed the rape kit. The doctor stated to both of us that "I have no idea which rape victum you are because so many young contractor girls were raped after drinking with the guys" she also stated that "I performed so many rape kits in the six months that I was stationed there that there would be no way to recall whom yours was."

So there is at least some physical evidence of rape, and presumably DNA that may identify one or more of the unknown assailants.

The physical evidence and EEOC findings essentially leaves the argument against Jamie's claims as a "bitch had it coming" theory. In that case one would have to posit that Jones got drunk, engaged in some sort of rough sex gang-bang, allowed someone to attempt to rip her breast implants out (or did so herself), then woke up in the morning bloody and battered and wished she hadn't starred in a Greenzone bukakke beat-down; whereupon she made up a rape charge to deal with her embarrassment.

One would hope that conservative bloggers wouldn't immediately adopt such a position just because the story "feels" like some sort of veiled assault on A) Bush, B) Cheney, C) the war in Iraq, D) All of the above. Is it possible that Jones' charges are untrue? Anything is possible, but at first glance there's very little to suggest that the claim is fabricated.

Why bloggers and commenters would rush to deny Jones' claims out of hand or to adopt a "blame the victim" stance without at least waiting to get more information is perhaps a unwelcome legacy of the Duke case, and one the misconstrues the lessons there. While it's hard to imagine the Duke charges making sense now, when first announced the presumption was that Krystal Gail Magnum (the stripper) was telling the truth. The victim should always be given the benefit of the doubt and let the evidence take the case where it may.

In this case a rush to pre-judge the veracity of the victim claims smacks of the either the "victim is lying" or the "bitch had it coming" defense. Ironically that's pretty much what Halliburton is offering as one of many affirmative defenses:

Plaintiffs' injuries were caused while Plaintiff, Jamie Jones, was intoxicated.

Plaintiff, Jamie Jones, suffered from various pre-existing conditions, which are a part of the damages being sought in this case.

Plaintiffs' claims may be barred, in whole or in part, by a failure to mitigate or minimize damages.

Which is a nice, legalize, way of saying, "the drunken whore was asking for it"


Endnote: The entire case appears to much less some dark conspiracy by Halliburton/KBR to hide the alleged rape than a large multi-national company attempting beat down a single employee by making taking advantage of the location of the alleged attack (in a murky legal area for coverage under US laws), and then attempting to use employment contract legalities to keep the claim from seeing the light of day. Anyone who doesn't believe a scenario like that is possible is just being willfully naive.


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Comments (27)

For these last years..Priva... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

For these last years..Privatize Privatize...
We have seen how immunity for these folks including mercenary contracts lead.
Understand...no one responsible will be held accountable...(Blackwater?)
Rape..water boarding...sexual humiliation...rendition...secret prisons..torture... etc?

You all want to say this is America?
Maybe yours...but not mine.

"I am a war President"...President Bush

nogo:"For thes... (Below threshold)
marc:

nogo:

"For these last years..Privatize Privatize..."

Do you want to be honest, for once, and admit "privatize, privatize" started during the Clinton admin and was cheerled mostly by the dems as they took advantage of the "peace dividend?

As to the story itself, there's much to believe and much to disbelieve, as in all these cases the story will play out over the next few months.

The doubt might be partly b... (Below threshold)

The doubt might be partly because of the suit. I read through the whole thing and it very well may be her *lawyers* but she's suing the US government for creating an insecure situation by invading Iraq.

Sometimes I think that lawyers aren't your friend and I suspect that her lawyer, in this case, is not her friend.

Our sensibility is to punish those responsible, and it seems clear that her employer does hold responsibility for not responding to her expressed concerns.

The guilty *men* need to be castrated with a dull knife, fired, and made to walk home. But other than the one guy named it's John Does. Now, if Halliburton doesn't figure out just *who* those men are, then they are again directly guilty for failing to investigate (or make sure an investigation happens).

The pleading, or whatever it's called, which I read through, tries to show that her employer has a history of tolerating sexual harassment by detailing previous problems this woman had. BAD plan. STUPID lawyer. That this wasn't criminal negligence and lack of oversight and cover-up by the company and those representing the company but SIMPLY a pattern of sexual harassment.

STUPID lawyer. Because that is how it's going to be read. Some bosses are boorish and she's a complainer.

When in fact, if she is a complainer it makes no difference whatsoever.

Not focusing on the people that most of us would feel are guilty and focusing on a big old laundry list of deep pockets and claiming that the United States government is complicit in the rape makes people wonder.

Not, mind you, that the very first I heard of this was a "liberal" GLEEFULLY relating the sordid tale of the identical twins joined at the hip, Halliburton and the administration and how they were in trouble now, oh Joy!

Notice nogo does much the same thing.

But even so that doesn't excuse anyone for failing to be compassionate toward this woman and adamant that those responsible, including most certainly those of her employers responsible for setting the tone and living arrangements in Baghdad.

...in Baghdad *be made to p... (Below threshold)

...in Baghdad *be made to pay.*

Actually, I think that ther... (Below threshold)

Actually, I think that there is a lot to believe at this point. Certainly, I want to see due process for the accused and, certainly, this may be some impressive fabrication on her part; I find that highly unlikely from what I've read thus far.

I think that Kevin has this right (all the way through his endnote), and, if so, then there need to be serious consequences for the people involved.

None of which changes the fact that the jumbled, idiotic writings of nogo are hardly worth the effort to decode. Please, sir, coherent thoughts and complete sentences wouldn't hurt, would they?

Back in basic training, when someone would fail one of the qualification courses or tests, we would call them No Go. Appropriate, don't you think?

When in Iraq, do as the Ira... (Below threshold)
Semanticleo:

When in Iraq, do as the Iraqis.

They imitate our form of democracy, we model theirs. It's a symbiotic relationship.

What did you expect, parades and flowers?

I didn't know I needed "bre... (Below threshold)

I didn't know I needed "breast implants" to get a security job in a war zone.

But I think Scott Beauchamp had them...

Not focusing on the peop... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Not focusing on the people that most of us would feel are guilty and focusing on a big old laundry list of deep pockets and claiming that the United States government is complicit in the rape makes people wonder.

Did you read the rest of the story?

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.

...

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.

The guilty are not being prosecuted. They are, so far, beyond the reach of the law. What would you have her lawyers do?

What did you expect, ... (Below threshold)

What did you expect, parades and flowers?

No Cleo, we expect intelligent, cogent comments about the post, not another round of demagoguery.

I think it's simply a multi... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

I think it's simply a multi-million dollar con. Lets waterboard the suspects and find out for sure. If they say they didn't do it then waterboard the accuser. Tough guy terrorists last 35 seconds and it's only a game used in Special Forces training. If she wants to push it then state, by written contract, that all money collected will go to charity.

Mantis, did you consider th... (Below threshold)
Eric:

Mantis, did you consider the possibility there are no prosecutions because here story doesn't hold up? Right now all we have here is allegations. Parts of the story should be documented, e.g. the army doctors who did the rape kit would have filled out a bunch of paperwork, even if the kit itself was destroyed by KBR.

What bothers me about this article is on the one hand they tell us there's this loophole, and on the other they say Justice declined to prosecute. Maybe it's just worded poorly, but that reads like they could have prosecuted if the evidence warranted.

And nogo, you get the prize for being the first person to call a firefighter a "mercenary".

If she was raped, she was r... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

If she was raped, she was raped by bad people, not by KBR, not Halliburton and not by George Bush.

NoGo -This is what... (Below threshold)

NoGo -

This is what happens with privitization. Clinton gutted our military in the '90s. Over half the people in the Air Force Reserve aircraft maintenance squadron I was in found themselves excess personnel.

Same thing over in Supply - outsource the logistics functions, and you don't need so many people! Ain't that GREAT? You'll put the responsibility of keeping beans and bullets (and other necessities) flowing to the troops in the hands of...

THE LOWEST BIDDER.

But you really enjoyed that peace dividend, didn't ya?

Welcome to the new world of war. Civilians provide the logistics and support functions, while the professional military is the cutting edge of the sword.

And the civilians don't have anywhere near the discipline or reponsibility the soldiers do.

However - we're stuck with them. I don't see any realistic way we can transfer the support functions back under military control. We don't have the manpower necessary to do it.

And shit will happen. When it does, it needs to be dealt with harshly.

By the way, may I point out something? The norm in history is for an invading, conquering army to loot and pillage - and rape. We have had no reported instances in this war of looting and pillaging by our soldiers, and almost no rapes. This is a testament to the professionalism and discipline of the military over there, and my hat's off to them.

Nogo...can...you complete a... (Below threshold)
Steve:

Nogo...can...you complete a simple...thought in your brain?

Mantis, did you consider... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Mantis, did you consider the possibility there are no prosecutions because here story doesn't hold up?

Yes, I suppose I should have added "allegedly."

Right now all we have here is allegations.


Well, we have a bit more than that, which is why I'm inclined to believe at least some crime has been committed. What we have is the involvement of Rep. Poe and embassy personnel:

"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.

Unless Poe has been hoodwinked into believing that Jones was rescued from her imprisonment by embassy agents complicit in her deception, or is outright lying himself, then evidence of kidnapping exists, at least. I'm inclined to give Poe the benefit of the doubt.

Parts of the story should be documented, e.g. the army doctors who did the rape kit would have filled out a bunch of paperwork, even if the kit itself was destroyed by KBR.

I would think at least some physical evidence, even if just paperwork, exists. If in fact the Justice Department, which as far as I know does not have a big presence in Iraq, doesn't even believe they can prosecute a crime here, why would they investigate? Even if there were people in Justice that wanted to, is it impossible that they were pressured to ignore it?

So yes, I have considered that possibility. Based on what we currently know, I find it improbable.

I know at least two people ... (Below threshold)

I know at least two people who considered and rejected contracting jobs in Iraq, men you understand, because of the rules that made it impossible for them to provide their own security.

This is hearsay, of course, but the gist was that rules were such that "self-defense" was not an option because any action of self-defense (such as getting a personal weapon and using it if attacked) invalidated your contract and your life insurance.

I don't know that it's the fault of the US if there is a legal limbo for contractors in Iraq. It's clearly not US jurisdiction but would we really want this sent to Iraqi police and courts?

When people have agreed so well that Blackwater was out of line I wonder if they've actually considered what the alternative options for security for civilians are.

Recall that a rape victim in Saudi just got lashes and imprisonment for her trouble. (When I was in the Air Force I heard stories about female airmen spirited out of Turkey and out of the grasp of local justice.)

Criminal acts committed by military members clearly are covered by the military judicial system no matter where the crime occurred. But where do contractors fall? Try to tell civilians they have to follow military rules and there will be nothing but howling.

A civil suit may be all she can do and that sucks.

It still won't change the normal reaction of people who wonder just how someone can claim the rape was caused by starting the war in the first place.

dr john has it right. Alth... (Below threshold)

dr john has it right. Although the company has a responsibility to ensure her safety to a reasonable degree. Sounds like they didn't do that. In fact, it seems they failed miserably. It sounds too like she didn't give a whole lot of forethought to the fact that by going to Iraq she was bound to be a tiny minority, as a woman, in a war zone.

I'm not blaming her. There is NEVER an excuse for what she says occurred. But it CAN be prevented.

"But it CAN be prevented."<... (Below threshold)
Semanticleo:

"But it CAN be prevented."

Indeed. Womenfolk should know their place.

Like I said, Cleo, I know t... (Below threshold)

Like I said, Cleo, I know two men who decided not to go to Iraq because the rules prevented them from participating in their own self-defense.

Maybe women are more used to someone else doing that for them, if you want to get snarky about it.

In any case, the situation sounds like a gross failure of leadership and I'd agree a great deal of blame lies directly with her employer.

What I'd like to know is who the hoards of other raped women contractors are, I'm thinking they probably aren't American. If I'm right about that I find it gravely offensive. Not that I'd want *them* subject to the local law either.

Come to think of it, the fact that only one rapist is named makes me wonder about the nationalities of the others.

The ABC account seems so of... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

The ABC account seems so off the wall, I can't believe that's an accident.

I wouldn't be surprise if this wasn't part of a bait and switch on Conservative Bloggers.

Add a bunch of distorted or false facts to a possibly true, but less dramatic, story. Then watch bloggers as bloggers do and pick the story apart on its facts.

And just when bloggers start denigrating the victim as part of this distortion, Bam, different and more solid evidence she was at least raped. The fact that the true circumstances are completely different than those initially reported won't matter.

Not good. Sounds like, tak... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Not good. Sounds like, taking the Doctor's statement as true, the contractor system was out of control.

Heads should roll for that.

The Thunder Run has linked ... (Below threshold)

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/11/2007 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

One would hope that cons... (Below threshold)
Paul:

One would hope that conservative bloggers wouldn't immediately adopt such a position just because the story "feels" like some sort of veiled assault on A) Bush, B) Cheney, C) the war in Iraq, D) All of the above.

You didn't learn this from Katrina????

The victims of monumental government stupidity where called every name in the book by conservative bloggers because that was easier than admitting that the Bush administration fucked up royally. (as did every pol from every party, don't get me wrong)

To a degree I understand the natural instinct to disbelieve --there is so much bullshit thrown at Bush-- but at some point it just becomes stupidity and make conservatives look like ranting DU idiots.

Well, Paul, like I mentione... (Below threshold)

Well, Paul, like I mentioned. The first I heard of this was a "liberal" nearly pissing himself with glee about the trouble BUSH was in now.

Hear hear, Paul.Se... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Hear hear, Paul.

See: Malkin, Michelle; Hewitt, Hugh, etc. etc. etc.

In being that she was gang ... (Below threshold)
Bring them home:

In being that she was gang raped by several men, the "semen" samples taken from her will reveal who they were. Our troops are dying to protect these 180,000 civilian contractors, who in turn are charging OUTRAGEOUS fees ultimately to the taxpayers. If they can't keep it in their pants, do you seriously think they are keeping their hands out of our wallets with needless fees too?

DNA test these SOB's, immediately clear house at the management level if there is even a remote smell of covering things up and end this crap. Bloggers will out the KBR employees, ultimately one will give up the others, a coverup in 2008 is pointless.

Its an election year, ACTION will earn my vote this time.

In reading the actual lawsu... (Below threshold)
The case seems over from the start:

In reading the actual lawsuit, there is something extremely important missing, that being the names of the KBR employees who are to blame, you know, the men whos semen is readily available in samples taken from this womans torn body parts.

It doesn't even matter what happened at this point because this is as much an admitance that US companies willfully protect predators, that DNA testing can easily identify no less, as you will ever see.

We have a victim, we have evidence, lets claim its the victims fault? I want names!




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