Last month, ABC News reported that a former Halliburton/KBR employee, Jamie Leigh Jones, had been gang-raped by her co-workers while working in Baghdad. She was then left by the company in a “shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water.”
Shortly after the news broke, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “requesting details on how many Americans in Iraq had reported being sexually assaulted or abused, how they were investigated, and if any had been recommended for prosecution.” He gave the State Department a deadline of Dec. 21 to respond. Yet according to Nelson’s office, the senator has not yet received any response:
He has not received a reply, a spokesman confirmed. … Nor has Nelson received replies from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates or Attorney General Michael Mukasey, to whom he also wrote asking for information and assistance, according to the lawmaker’s spokesman. […]
Asked about missing that deadline, a State Department spokesman told ABC News, “If the senator has asked questions, I’m quite sure we will provide answers. But it’s not something I could discuss with you.”
Former Halliburton/KBR employees have described an atmosphere of “rampant sexual harassment.” Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) has also confirmed that his office has heard from multiple other women who were victims of sexual assault while working for KBR in Iraq.
The refusal of the Bush administration to respond to Nelson’s request mirrors its foot-dragging on Jones’s case over the past two years. Despite Poe’s involvement in the case, the Justice Department has refused to bring criminal charges against anyone, and it appears that no “federal agency [is] investigating the case.”
Last month, the Justice Department also refused to send a representative to answer questions on the case before the House Judiciary Committee. “This is an absolute disgrace,” remarked chairman John Conyers (D-MI).