Take Action for Jamie Leigh Jones

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Jamie Leigh Jones was raped by her American co-workers in Baghdad. She was then imprisoned in an effort to cover up her assault.

No charges have been filed by the Department of Justice, and the Bush administration’s legal maneuvering has allowed American contractors in Iraq the right to act however they please without legal consequences. KBR has Jones’ rape kit, and continues to protect the employees who raped her.

Jamie Leigh Jones is not the only woman who has been attacked by lawless contractors (and it’s not just contractorssoldiers are committing these crimes too) in Iraq, but she is one of the only ones whose voice is being heard. This case is bigger than just her — it’s about a system of legal accountability that has been entirely dismantled in our war on terror.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter is taking steps to bring the rapists to justice. Below is her letter. Please spread the word far and wide, tell your friends and family, copy the letter into emails, post it on your blog, and call your Congressperson. This is an absolute disgrace.

Dear Friends,

I need your help.

Two years ago, 20 year old Jamie Leigh Jones was drugged, assaulted, and viciously gang raped on the job by her fellow coworkers. Learning of the attack, her employers placed her under armed guard in a shipping container for 24 hours without access to food or water.

Two years later, these horrific acts of unspeakable violence, as well as, the unbelievable reaction by her employers have gone unpunished and justice has not been served.

Why? How this could this happen? Because the 20 year old victim was a government contractor at KBR in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq.

Jamie Leigh Jones, an American citizen, while employed by KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton was brutally gang raped by fellow KBR employees two years ago while stationed in Iraq. Army doctors performed a medical examination which showed that she had been raped both anally and vaginally. However, the rape kit was turned over to KBR and portions of the rape kit have vanished. Jamie was then ordered by her KBR employers to remain in a shipping container under armed guard for 24 hours without access to food or water until she was rescued after her Member of Congress demanded action by the State Department.

After two years, not only has the Justice Department not brought any criminal charges, but ABC News recently reported that they could not confirm that any federal agency was investigating the case at all.

There are over 20,000 Americans employed by US government contractors in Iraq. These individuals have the same right to treatment, services, and proper investigations when they are the victims of violent crime as those of us here at home. Their offenders, who are paid with American taxpayer dollar, should be held accountable.

Since Jamie has gone public with her story, it is clear that this is not an isolated incident; many women working for US Government contractors face sexual assault and harassment. Yet, the perpetrators of these violent crimes are not held accountable and justice is not served.

The current state of affairs is absolutely unacceptable. Action is required.

This is where I need your help.

I, along with Congressman Ted Poe and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, am taking the first step to ensuring accountability by sending letters to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding answers in the KBR rape cases and asking them to clearly define the steps they are taking to ensure that what happened to Jamie will ever happen again.

I need your help to get your Member of Congress to sign on to these letters. It’s been two years and it is obvious that the Departments of Defense and State are not taking this issue seriously. We need to show them that the House of Representatives demands action.

Please call your Member of Congress as soon as possible and ask them to contact me, Louise M. Slaughter, to sign on to the letters to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding answers about the KBR rape cases and how they plan to prevent these occurrences in the future.

With your help, we can take the first step to preventing what happened to Jamie from ever happening again.

In solidarity,

Louise M. Slaughter

Member of Congress


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Law, Sexual Assault, War and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Take Action for Jamie Leigh Jones

  1. brandann says:

    consider it done!

  2. Cassandra says:

    Right on. At least SOMEONE in Congress is taking action. Jebus.

  3. ottermatic says:

    Jan Schakowsky is my congresswoman. Go Jan!

  4. Emily says:

    I couldn’t find anything about the letter on Louise Slaughter’s official website. Where did you get the letter? Before I e-mail it to everyone I know…

  5. Jill says:

    I got the letter from Slaughter’s Director of Internet Communications. I promise it’s legit :-)

  6. syfr says:

    Louise Slaughter is my congressperson.

    I heart her.

  7. Jesse says:

    I just called Nydia Velazquez’s office (she’s New York’s 12th), and neither of the people I spoke to had even heard about the case. Waiting for someone to call me back about it now…

  8. Miss Robyn says:

    Oh! Louise Slaughter used to be my congressperson when I lived in Rochester! She is quite awesomely feminist. Technically she still is since I never officially became an Illinois resident and still vote in NY elections…

    I’ll pass it on!

  9. Bq says:

    Assault and misogyny often go hand and hand with militarism. Ugh, crazy world.

  10. Thomas, TSID says:

    I called my congresswoman, and they were unaware. If you’re in Westchester, you may be in Nita Lowey’s district (NY-18). She’s good and ought to sign it. Her Washington office is (202) 225-6506.

  11. Cara says:

    Louise Slaughter used to be my congressperson, too! Now I live in the next county over and am represented by a total ass. But I LOVE Louise Slaughter. She rules.

  12. james says:

    I completely agree. We can’t have a situation where American civilians are treated exactly the same as Iraqi civilians. I don’t have a problem with American contractors having impunity for whatever crimes they commit against Iraqis, but things are going a bit to far when American citizens are on the receiving end. God forbid people who travel to Iraq for the purpose of making money in the knowledge they will be under the shelter of legal immunity should find themselves hoisted by their own petards. What we need is one of these colonial laws where the natives are given a lesser status than their colonial masters, rather than bothering with this PC equality nonsense. It’s just undignified to see American civilians being treated on a par with Iraqis.

    My letter is already in my Member of Congress’ inbox. Good job!

  13. zuzu says:

    Shorter james: The slut was asking for it.

  14. Bq says:

    I think it was very wrong of James to imply that Jamie Leigh Jones got what she deserved. At the same time, it is true that violence against woc gets covered less. I put “Abeer Hamza” in the search and only one post came up in which there was no call to action.

  15. Jill says:

    Bq, I agree that violence against WoC gets covered less. However, the Hamza case is very different from this one. The rape and murders were committed by soldiers, and there is a set legal procedure for dealing with those crimes. Those soldiers were arrested and faced legal consequences. There isn’t a call to action because the soldiers faced a military court. Here, contractors don’t have to face any sort of court — not an Iraqi one, not an American one, not a military one. That’s a huge problem.

    And as I said in the post, Jamie Leigh Jones is just one visible woman; there have certainly been many more women (including many Iraqi women and girls) who have been attacked by contractors, but who don’t have the visibility that Jones does. Getting justice for her would at least set a legal precedent for dealing with these crimes, and would enable other women to see justice, too.

  16. Pingback: The SAFER Weblog » Rape in Iraq - a call to action

  17. preying mantis says:

    I emailed my guy. He’s a scumbag and won his seat through an extremely dodgy voting set-up, but here’s hoping.

  18. james says:

    Let’s be clear, my main target is various Americans commenting on this thread. The letter is explicity promotting the more nasty side of colonialism and you either agree or are too blind to see it.

    “There are over 20,000 Americans employed by US government contractors in Iraq. These individuals have the same right to treatment, services, and proper investigations when they are the victims of violent crime as those of us here at home.”

    No they don’t. Let me make this clear. Americans in France do not have the same rights as Americans at home – they have the same rights as French civilians. Americans in Brazil do not have the same rights to Americans at home – they have the same rights as Brazilian civilians. Americans in Russia do not have the same rights as Americans at home – you get the picture. And the same should go for Iraq.

    The idea that American civilians in Iraq should have more a superior legal status to Iraqis and be treated as if they were in the US is openly colonialist. There is a law saying contractors can shoot people up with impunity, but because it is a blanket impunity the law does not categorise Iraqis as lesser people. That is what’s being proposed, it’s openly imperialistic, and is what you are supporting.

    “Getting justice for her [Jamie Leigh Jones] would at least set a legal precedent for dealing with these crimes [against Iraqi women and girls], and would enable other women to see justice, too.”

    No it wouldn’t. The letter does not question contactors’ impunity in Iraq in any other way than saying that American civilians are on the receiving end a line has been crossed and they should be entitled to the protections of US law. Bollocks to that.

    I am rather stunned that some commentators are so blind to how iniquitous this is that they actually missed it and thought the main thrust of my post was about how she deserved to be raped.

  19. Jill says:

    No they don’t. Let me make this clear. Americans in France do not have the same rights as Americans at home – they have the same rights as French civilians. Americans in Brazil do not have the same rights to Americans at home – they have the same rights as Brazilian civilians. Americans in Russia do not have the same rights as Americans at home – you get the picture. And the same should go for Iraq.

    Well, no, James, that isn’t true. If an American citizen is raped by an American soldier in France or Russia or Brazil or wherever else, you bet that American citizen has recourse. The legal issue here isn’t just Jones’ rights to press charges; it’s about the legal consequences for contractors. If contractors were subject to Iraqi law, they could be tried for this crime in Iraqi courts. If they were soldiers, they could be tried in a military court. They are working in Iraq as pseudo-soldiers; they have many of the protections that military personnel have with none of the responsibilities. Arguing that they should be subject to some law — be it Iraqi, American, military or international — is not the same as saying that U.S. citizens deserve protections that Iraqi citizens don’t have. As it stands, none of them have protection from contractors.

    The idea that American civilians in Iraq should have more a superior legal status to Iraqis and be treated as if they were in the US is openly colonialist. There is a law saying contractors can shoot people up with impunity, but because it is a blanket impunity the law does not categorise Iraqis as lesser people. That is what’s being proposed, it’s openly imperialistic, and is what you are supporting.

    Nope, it isn’t what I’m supporting — and please don’t be so arrogant as to tell me what I do and don’t support. I don’t support laws that give contractors unique legal privileges. I do support holding contractors legally accountable, even in U.S. courts. Nothing in the letter says that this accountability would only be available to American citizens. Nowhere does it say that Iraqi citizens would be without recourse. This is one small, first step, not the end-all be-all of this issue. And extending U.S. jurisdiction to crimes committed off of U.S. soil is hardly new. It is not always about colonialism.

  20. Mnemosyne says:

    james, you may be shocked to hear this, but when an American is accused or the victim of a crime in another country, the US consulate’s office is notified so they can monitor the progress of the trial. We used to extend the same courtesy to other countries, though now not so much (though that seems due to an out-of-control state judiciary, not federal policy).

  21. zuzu says:

    Let’s be clear, my main target is various Americans commenting on this thread. The letter is explicity promotting the more nasty side of colonialism and you either agree or are too blind to see it.

    And how convenient! You can slut-shame to get at your “main target.”

  22. zuzu says:

    And james, Jones wasn’t a tourist. She was employed by a US government contractor, and she was raped by other employees of that contractor, that contractor performed the investigation, that contractor took action against her, and that contractor lost or destroyed or is withholding the rape kit.

    Do you sense a pattern here?

    She’s not just an American in a foreign country. She works for a company that is in Iraq at the direction of the US government, under contract to the US government, and more than likely she has some kind of employment contract that has provisions outlining where and how she can adjudicate employment disputes (and this is one).

    And yet, somehow, the criminal case falls outside of any particular jurisdiction. Not the UCMJ, even though the company takes a quasi-military role. Not US law, because the government has declared that the company is operating outside the US and it’s not their problem, but not Iraq, because we can’t have local courts trying US military contractors.

    IOW, james, she’s not on equal footing with an American in France, because an American in France can pursue a case in the French courts.

    But you go right ahead and keep telling us the bitch deserves it because of who she worked for just so you can score some points on alla us too blind to see what you do.

  23. zuzu says:

    And another point: the problem is not that she’s an American. The problem is that military contractors like Halliburton and KBR are not accountable anywhere. And it doesn’t matter if the victim were American or Iraqi — the company can just throw up its hands and say that nobody has jurisdiction to hold any of their employees (or them) accountable.

    Do you really want to be defending that via bitch-deserved-it arguments?

  24. Thomas, TSID says:

    James, virtually every reader of this blog is against the American military presence in Iraq, the presence of American contractors in Iraq, the immunity of American contractors from Iraqi law, and the unwarranted deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, not to mention thousands of US military personnel who are supposed to risk their lives in defense of this country and not for the profits of a collection of oil-services barons and pith-helmet cultists. So … you’re preaching to the choir on that one.

    As to saying that JLJ got what she deserved, that’s way, way out of bounds. Being against colonialism is not the same as asserting that a woman who participates in in deserves to be raped, but what you wrote pretty plainly says the later! And it’s not even as if she were raped by some Iraqi, angry at the foreign army of occupation in his land — which itself wouldn’t be defensible. She was raped by some American KBR guy in a trailer farm base full of KBR guys. So that’s a blow against colonialism … exactly how?

    I see the language you’re talking about. I agree that it shouldn’t be there. The problem to be addressed is the hole in the law that subjects the rapist to absolutely no law, not the operation of local law. But that’s a slender reed for opposition to doing something to bring a rapist to justice.

    I’m going to put it to you directly, James: are you really, really advocating that the rapist go free because his victim was a KBR employee in Iraq, or do you agree that he ought to face trial, somewhere under some law, for what he did?

  25. I got the letter from Slaughter’s Director of Internet Communications. I promise it’s legit

    I also got the letter. Jill is telling the truth. The letter came from Zac Petkanas, Slaughter’s Director of Internet Communication.

    Do you really want to be defending that via bitch-deserved-it arguments?

    I have been getting weird troll comment about how KBR is innocent. These anonymous commenter don’t care how many women came forward or that KBR admitted to taking the rape kit. Everyday, more and more of Jones’ story is verified. These trolls somehow believe pointing out KBR’s horrible behavior is an attack on conservative values. People like Adrew Sullivan realize that defending torture does not help conservatism.

    Marc Fuller created a Facebook group in support of Jamie Leigh Jones. She posted this message and video to the group.

    Thank you all so much for your support. It brought tears to my eyes when I went to the “Support Jamie Leigh Jones against KBR” page. I am so thankful that so many wonderful people have joined this support page and posted so many comments. Your support is dear to me. If you want to keep up with the latest news regarding congressional hearings, actions, The Jamie Leigh Foundation, my case etc., please visit http://www.jamiesfoundation.org

    Best Wishes,

    Jamie Leigh

  26. james says:

    “Arguing that they should be subject to some law — be it Iraqi, American, military or international — is not the same as saying that U.S. citizens deserve protections that Iraqi citizens don’t have.”

    Where in the letter did it mention extending protections to anyone but US citizens?

    “Nothing in the letter says that this accountability would only be available to American citizens.”

    Only because non-American citizens were not even thought worthy of consideration. The letter says: “There are over 20,000 Americans employed by US government contractors in Iraq. These individuals have the same right to treatment, services, and proper investigations when they are the victims of violent crime as those of us here at home.” Do you really think she is implicity implying that Iraqis should have the same rights to treatment, services, and proper investigations as they would if there were Americans in the US? You are kidding yourself, because Iraqis were not even mentioned as an afterthought.

    “IOW, james, she’s not on equal footing with an American in France, because an American in France can pursue a case in the French courts.”

    She is, however, on an equal footing with an Iraqi in Iraq. Which is the appropriate comparison. Do you not feel I have any justification for feeling slightly outraged by the parochialism of all this? A law was passed giving contractors impunity and this only becomes an issue when US civilians end up on the receiving end of what they were dishing out, then when it brought up the only people who are thought deserving of consideration are US civilians. I think I’m totally justified in thinking that Slaughter regards the problem as not being impunity per se, but this applying when Americans are on the receiving end.

  27. Mnemosyne says:

    A law was passed giving contractors impunity and this only becomes an issue when US civilians end up on the receiving end of what they were dishing out, then when it brought up the only people who are thought deserving of consideration are US civilians.

    Where the hell have you been that you think that the lack of accountability for contractors hasn’t been discussed multiple times on this blog? Go back in the archives to when the big report about Blackwater was released, at a minimum, and then come back and tell us that we haven’t been screaming about this for years.

    Sorry, but you sound like the conservative asshats in 2001 who were demanding that feminists denounce the Taliban when we’d been doing it for years and they wouldn’t listen

  28. Jill says:

    She is, however, on an equal footing with an Iraqi in Iraq.

    Actually, no. If an Iraqi in Iraq is raped by a fellow countryman, she has (at least in theory) more recourse than Jamie Leigh Jones does.

    Do you really think she is implicity implying that Iraqis should have the same rights to treatment, services, and proper investigations as they would if there were Americans in the US? You are kidding yourself, because Iraqis were not even mentioned as an afterthought.

    No. I think she’s taking a necessary first step to hold contractors legally accountable.

    Yes, ideally we would be able to assert that contractors should be subject to Iraqi law, and that Iraqis would be protected as well. But that’s a much harder case to make. Given the circumstances, it makes sense that a U.S. Congressperson would push the U.S. Department of Justice to take a closer look at this case.

    And are you seriously arguing that because protections don’t extend fully to Iraqi citizens, they shouldn’t extend to anyone?

    A law was passed giving contractors impunity and this only becomes an issue when US civilians end up on the receiving end of what they were dishing out…

    Actually, it was an issue long before this (Google is your friend here). It was a huge issue when contractors shot Iraqis. It has been discussed in the mainstream media, by Congresspeople, and on this blog many, many times. This is just one aspect of a widespread effort to require contractors to have legal accountability.

    Slaughter’s letter does not include every single important aspect of this debate; not even close. But it is one of the first major calls to action on this issue. If you’re not supporting it, fine; don’t call your Congressperson. But this post is not going to turn into a venue for you to say that a rape victim deserved it (I’m not sure how else to interpret “this only becomes an issue when US civilians end up on the receiving end of what they were dishing out”) or to derail an otherwise productive conversation. So, goodbye.

  29. Jill or Slaughter’s office isn’t arguing for Jones getting special treatment. The Justice Department originally refused to investigate Jones case. DoJ reopened the investigation because of the negative publicity. Jones was ignored. That is problem with the administration’s handling of the Jones case.

    Many progressive bloggers, myself included, have voiced anger over Blackwater attacking Iraqis and U.S. soldiers. Blackwater has not been held accountable. If you support the war (I think it was always a bad idea) than getting contractor than anger the civilian population and U.S. military person is a top priority.

    James, I fail to see who is arguing for American women to get special treatment over Iraqi cilivians. Progressive bloggers don’t want women raped or civilians murdered. One not be a genius to understand why people are angry about the law protecting contractors. The simple solution is to place contractors under Pentagon supervision. Blackwater and KBR would be held liable under military law. THe White House isn’t about to do that.

    Apologies to Jill for derailing the thread: this anti-Jamie Leigh Jones trolls annoy the fuck out of me.

    Here is Jones the video thanking her supporters.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g-K_0XLgVs

  30. Cara says:

    James is just envious. He’s too lazy to dust the cheeto crumbs off his hands and get a job where HE can rape someone with complete immunity.

    James, you’re an asshole. Let’s make that clear. I’m astonished you can type so prolifically with one hand.

  31. Thomas, TSID says:

    James, once again, you miss the point so completely that it could only be deliberate. There are no supporters of colonialist Iraq projects on this blog, no neocons. But what sort of a piece of feces thinks that doing a sack-dance when a woman involved in such a project is raped is appropriate? Your triumphalist “got what she deserved”-ism marks you out as the sort of “progressive” who is not only willing, but happy, to throw women under the bus.

    Asshole.

  32. funnie says:

    Yes, James is a progressive willing to throw women under the bus. He’s willing to blame women in order to make his point.

    On the other hand, what’s being advocated for here, including by Rep. Slaughter, is very selective protection of women’s rights. Based on? Their cooperation with the same system that allows these men to have any immunity at all regarding both American and Iraqi women.

    Status-based “protection” based on your cooperation with the agenda isn’t actually protection of women’s rights, it’s protection of the system.

    Protection of women’s rights = removing all prosecutorial immunity from contractors, allowing prosecution on behalf of Jones AND on behalf of other women who do not have her status.

    Advocating for less is actually pitting women against other women.

  33. Pingback: anythings.org » The consequences of rape cover-ups

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