[IMPORTANT BACKGROUND MATERIAL: Read the text published until Tuesday at http://www.jamiesfoundation.org/jaime.htm — the page was taken down after PJM’s inquiries on the story. It is provided here as reference]
An ABC News report earlier this week alleging a cover-up of the gang-rape of a civilian contractor in Iraq in 2005 has attracted the attention of the chairman of House Judiciary Committee, who is now pressuring the Justice Department to answer specific questions regarding the investigation.
Jamie Leigh Jones, a military wife and former KBR employee, alleges in a pending civil suit that she was drugged, gang-raped, and beaten by fellow KBR contractors at Camp Hope in Baghdad on July 27, 2005, and that the company and the U.S. government are participating in a coverup.
Chairman John Conyers and Rep. Ted Poe cited ABC News blog The Blotter in their request to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, which began:
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.
As crucial as it was to initiating a House review of the possible criminal case to be made against Jones’ attackers, The Blotter report is not responsible journalism.
In what the Associated Press described as a preview of allegations to air on “20/20” next month, ABC News may have exaggerated some elements of the story for dramatic effect while downplaying other facts.
The three-page Blotter story left out significant details of Jones et al. v. Halliburton Company et al., including claims of inappropriate sexual conduct by one of Jones’ former KBR supervisors while Jones was still a 19-year-old working for KBR in Houston.
According to the original civil complaint filed on May 16 of this year, KBR supervisor Eric Iler was accused of sexual misconduct involving Ms. Jones in advance of her decision to go to Baghdad:
12. Between 2004 and July 21, 2005, Jamie was employed by Halliburton/KBR as an administrative assistant in Houston, Texas, at that time, her immediate supervisor, Eric Iler, was aware of Jamie’s sick mother at home following a complicated surgical procedure with a difficult post-surgical course, and utilized his influence over her employment to extract sexual favors from Jamie.
13. Eventually, Jamie obtained evidence of the sexual harassment of her supervisor and demanded that he remove her to another department.
14. Once removed from the oversight of Eric Iler, Jamie was transferred to work for Overseas Administrative Services, LTD, in Houston, Texas, beginning July 21, 2005, she was then transferred to an assignment at Camp Hope, Iraq.
For reasons unknown, The Blotter does not find this previous allegation to be worthy of comment in their article, – nor a subsequent attempt on Iler’s part to follow Jones to Iraq and regain his position as her supervisor as described in the court papers – even though this would certainly seem to further allegations that KBR created the “boys will be boys” environment where sexual harassment was “…excused, if not encouraged.”
There is also the issue of a serious discrepancy between The Blotter story, the civil case documents, and Jones’ own account on The Jamie Leigh Foundation’s web site as to what happened to the rape kit collected by U.S. Army medical personnel in the wake of her assault.
According to The Blotter:
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.
Absent from the original or amended filing, however, was anything that could be construed as a claim of the rape kit being handed over by U.S. Army medical personnel to “KBR security officers” as alleged in The Blotter report.
A chronological account on the Jamie Leigh Foundation web site actually seems to refute such a claim. If the Foundation account written by Ms. Jones is accurate, the U.S. State Department handled, lost and reclaimed some of the contents of the rape kit without any KBR personnel being involved:
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.
The page on the Foundation that held Jones’ chronology of events– http://www.jamiesfoundation.org/jaime.htm – has been pulled down since Tuesday.
This happened after Pajamas Media asked Jones’ lawyer Todd Kelly about several claims made on that page Tuesday morning. It is yet unknown whether or not the questions asked about Ms. Jones claims had anything to do with the removal of this page from the Foundation’s web site, or its removal from the site’s navigation. Emails to Mr. Kelly and the site’s webmaster have not been returned. A reference copy of the chronology as it was originally published is provided by Pajamas Media here.
A third claim made in The Blotter is that in the wake of the alleged rape, Jones was, “…held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR…”
Shipping containers typically found in Iraq (and elsewhere) are either 20′ or 40′ steel and aluminum boxes with little to no ventilation. On the days Jones was confined by KBR (July 29-30, 2005), the mean average temperature was 100-degrees, with air temperatures over 110 degrees for 6 hours straight both afternoons. It seems implausible that a person would survive such conditions without adequate food and water.
Once again, the allegations made in the civil suit tell a somewhat different story:
a. 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;
There are significant variances between the versions of events-and even the mention of key events-told in The Blotter, the civil court documents of Jones et al. v. Halliburton Company et al., and the now-deleted chronological events page known as “Jamie’s Journal.”
Let us hope that the Department of Justice investigation is more thorough.
Bob Owens blogs at Confederate Yankee.