Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lawless Thugs

...Paid With YOUR Tax Dollars

Perhaps you've heard the horrifying story of Jamie Leigh Jones. Here's an excerpt from ABC news:
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.
According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally." Jones told 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.
Outrageous as that first appeared, some new details emerge in this video from Countdown:
"Barbarian Invaders"

(h/t Fernando @ Rancho La Luna)

There is so much to be outraged about here, it's hard to know where to begin. First, how did this story escape the attention of the Corporate Owned Media (COM) FOR TWO YEARS?!? After all, it involves a young attractive white girl in distress in a foreign land. Doesn't that make it a top story? But wait, such stories only take precedent when they serve to bury a bigger story embarrassing to the government. This story only embarrasses the government further.

Seder's remarks should cause embarrassment to the COM as well. "In fact, that's the story of the entire occupation and invasion of Iraq. Complete lack of informed consent from the American public." And it is the COM who have assiduously avoided informing the public.

The main focus is and should be the question of jurisdiction. In trying to pursue justice, Mrs. Jones has found herself in a legal limbo created quite deliberately to shield KBR and its employees.
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.
That enormous loophole is of course the infamous (or it would be infamous if only more Americans knew it even existed - thanks again COM) Rule 17, put in place by Paul Bremer, neocon extraordinaire.
(From Smirking Chimp):

On June 27 2004, the day before the United States was to grant sovereignty to a new Iraqi government and disband the coalition provisional authority, Paul Bremer, the US proconsul, issued a stunning new order. One of the final acts of the CPA, Order 17, declared that foreign contractors within Iraq, including private military firms, would not be subject to any Iraqi laws - "all International Consultants shall be immune from Iraqi legal process," it read. "Congratulations to the new Iraq!" Bremer said moments before flying out. His memoir, My Year in Iraq, neglects to mention Order 17.
Order 17's grant of immunity to contractors guaranteed that more than half of the foreign presence on the ground - for US-paid contractors outnumber US military personnel - would operate for all intents and purposes beyond the law. Order 17 also undercut the authority of the US military, frustrating command and control of the battlefield and upsetting sensitive counterinsurgency strategies. Order 17 meant that the monopoly of violence was fractured and outsourced to those not subject to the law. By unilateral fiat Order 17 uniquely created a red zone of impunity covering the entire country.

A radical break with US policy, such an order had never been promulgated before. Order 17 should not be confused with a status of force agreement negotiated with sovereign nations such as South Korea. Those agreements are subject to complex bargaining and mutual assurance. Nor are contractors subject to the uniform code of military justice because, after all, they are not in the US military. Nor has the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 been brought to bear on contractors in Iraq.
The result of all this legal legerdemain, as reported by Raw Story, is a near certainty that the guilty will go free.

A brave and savvy undergraduate questioned pResident Bush about this very same red zone of impunity on April 10, 2006. His response tells the tale.

"I don't mean to be dodging the question."

"..although it'd be kinda convenient in this case.

I can't believe he actually said that! In public! That and the nervous tics, smirking and giggling indicate that he knows EXACTLY what jurisdiction applies to his hired thugs - none whatsoever, by design. Notice that the unidentified questioner has already queried SecDef Rumsfeld about this and gotten a similar runaround.

This is of course of a piece with the Bush vision of law and order - the laws simply don't apply to them or their enablers, because they run the DoJ as if it was a wholly owned proprietary interest, not a function of the people's government.

If that hasn't got you fuming fit to blow your stack, Jon Swift (a self-described 'reasonable conservative') blogs about the response from less reasonable neo-conservatives - "Jamie Leigh Jones Undermines the War Effort." Seriously, this is one of those occasions where I've wished I believed that there was an especially hot corner of hell for people like this to spend eternity. The players referred to are "Rusty Shackleford at The Jawa Report, Curt at Flopping Aces and former humor blogger Ace of Spades." (Standard warning: Don't Click on Wingnuts. (DCOW)
Ace, quoting his doppelganger the Church Lady, says Jones' story is "too convenient." Curt, who supports actor Fred Thompson for President, says it sounds "too movie like." Shackleford, no doubt wrinkling his brow and rubbing his beard thoughtfully as the wheels spin in his brain, if he has one (a beard, that is), writes, "It's perfect. Too perfect.
Update: Bob Owens, a.k.a. Confederate Yankee, the blogosphere's Miss Marple, is on the case. If anyone can find a link between Jones and the terrorists, he can."
With thinking like that governing the reight wing, one must ask; how the hell are they doing such a good job of tearing down democracy in America? The uncomfortable answer must be that people on the left are doing such a piss poor job of opposing them. There seems to be an assumption that, "this is America. The problem will correct itself."

Well, let me remind you - Richard Nixon went unpunished. The Iran/Contra traitors were mostly pardoned by Bush Sr., and some of them now have successful careers on right-wing talk radio for cryin' out loud. Many of those involved in Iran/Contra went on to serve in the current government, despite their criminal records. The system has failed monumentally to self-correct in the past.

Your options are limited. You can resolve to actively do everything in your power to stop this lawlessness (even if that means a loss of income or lowering of lifestyle expectations), or you can prepare to spend the rest of your days weeping over the demise of democracy. Your choice.
Addendum: Also from the Jon Swift post, an indication that this is far from being an isolated case.
Although there was a rape kit that confirmed she was sexually assaulted, it was lost and found again and the doctor who performed it doesn't remember doing it. "I have no idea which rape victim you are," the doctor told Jones, "because so many young contractor girls were raped after drinking with the guys…. I performed so many rape kits in the six months that I was stationed there that there would be no way to recall whom (sic) yours was."
Geez, Louise! Am I the only one who thinks that, I don't know, maybe something ought to be done about this?!?
"With every new revelation, I think, 'Is this it?
Will this finally shake people out of their complacency?' "
-- RevPhat --
I certainly hope so.

Read More at The Jamie Leigh Foundation

UPDATE: From Think Progress - Rep Poe (R. - TX), Ms. Leigh Jones' congressman, and Sen. Ben Nelson (D. - FL) are both looking into allegations that this is not an isolated incident. Considering the quote above from the doctor who performed the rape kit, I would think they will find the allegations to be substantiated.

UPDATE II: From ABC News: The House Judiciary Committee will be hearing testimony on this matter starting next Wednesday. Given past performance, don't hold your breath waiting for any substantial result.

Cross-posted at Ice Station Tango and The Unconventional Conventionist

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