(WASHINGTON, D.C) – U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka, Barack Obama , and Jon Tester sent letters to the Attorney General, and the Inspector Generals of the Defense and State Departments, seeking information about their apparent failure to investigate allegations made by former Halliburton/KBR administrative assistant Jamie Leigh Jones that she was drugged and raped by several co-workers while employed at Camp Hope in Baghdad, Iraq.
The alleged assault occurred in July 2005, three days after KBR had transferred Ms. Jones to work in Iraq. Ms. Jones was treated at a U.S. Army Hospital in Iraq after reporting that she was raped. According to recent news reports, no criminal charges have been filed in the matter and reporters have been unable to confirm that any federal agency is investigating.
Senator Akaka said, “It has been more than two years since Ms. Jones reported that she was drugged and raped. Ms. Jones’ allegations are extremely disturbing, yet it seems that KBR, the Defense Department, and the State Department may have ignored the matter rather than seeking the truth. Some media accounts have suggested that security contractors have blanket legal immunity for what they do in Iraq. That is untrue. But the existing legal loopholes for U.S. government contractors working abroad – and the widespread perception that these contractors operate completely free of legal constraints – must be addressed. Congress should make this an urgent priority.”
Akaka noted that jurisdiction for any future criminal charges brought in the case could come under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 or section 804 of the USA PATRIOT Act. “We must ensure that security contractors are subject to real oversight. I will push for a full, fair, and transparent investigation of Jamie Leigh Jones’ allegations, and I will continue to support legislation to ensure that security contractors are held to high standards,” Akaka stated.
“With tens of thousands of American contractors operating in Iraq, we will not tolerate abuse and misconduct, and these contractors must be held accountable to American criminal law,” said Senator Obama. “I first introduced legislation nearly 10 months ago to hold contractors accountable, and I will continue to work to develop a solution that closes the legal loopholes, protects our troops and civilians, and promotes America’s values.”
“I don’t care if it’s in rural Montana, inner-city Washington, or military bases in Baghdad—no one is above the law,” Senator Tester said. “We’ve got some serious questions about this case and it’s not acceptable to sit around waiting for answers.”
Senator Akaka is Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, as well as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness. Senators Obama and Tester are members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.