Another military contractor rape

Karen Houppert reports for The Nation about the rape of a paramedic working for defense contractor KBR in Iraq. The details of both the incident and the response are truly nauseating. This is shameful stuff. (Trigger warning — more below the jump.)

That dawn, naked, covered in blood and feces, bleeding from her anus, she found a US soldier she did not know lying naked in the bed next to her: his gun lay on the floor beside the bed, she could not rouse him and all she could remember of the night before was screaming and screaming as the soldier anally penetrated her while a colleague who worked for defense contractor KBR held her hand–but instead of helping her, as she had hoped, he jammed his penis in her mouth.
Over the next few weeks Smith would be told to keep quiet about the incident by a KBR supervisor. The camp’s military liaison officer also told her not to speak about what had happened, she says. And she would follow these instructions. “Because then, all of a sudden, if you’ve done exactly what you’ve been instructed not to do–tell somebody–then you’re in danger,” Smith says.

It’s not like this and the Jamie Leigh Jones case are two isolated incidents.

In fact, a growing number of women employees working for US defense contractors in the Middle East are coming forward with complaints of violence directed at them. As the Iraq War drags on, and as stories of US security contractors who seem to operate with impunity continue to emerge (like Blackwater and its deadly attack against Iraqi civilians on September 16, 2007), a rash of new sexual assault and sexual harassment complaints are being lodged against overseas contractors–by their own employees. Todd Kelly, a lawyer in Houston, says his firm alone has fifteen clients with sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation complaints (for reporting assault and/or harassment) against Halliburton and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC (KBR), as well as Cayman Island-based Service Employees International Inc., a KBR shell company. (While Smith is technically an SEII employee, she is supervised by KBR staff as a KBR employee.)

All I can think is that if this is the horrible stuff they can get away with doing to female coworkers, imagine what U.S. military contractors have done to Iraqi women. Frankly, it’s horrifying.
Take Action: Pressure the Department of State and Department of Defense to take steps to protect US contractors; urge them to respond to the concerns raised by Rep. Louise Slaughter.

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  • religiarchy

    This is horrifying. I’ll be contacting people with the links you provided.

  • MyBabyPanda

    This is just so upsetting. I emailed using the links provided, and also emailed the DOJ. Their contact is
    They seem to be the real fuck ups here for not investigating these claims.

  • lotus

    I don’t get how KBR can get away from criminal lawsuits, even with the arbitration contract, because this goes far beyond the scope of an employer/employee relationship.
    And what the hell. Rape is never seen for what it is.

  • VivaZoya

    How tragic. And what will happen to gays in the military, WHEN that eventually happens?

  • thewellofemoness

    That is horrific! I hope the KBR supervisor and man who raped her get locked up.

  • BWrites

    what will happen to gays in the military, WHEN that eventually happens?
    They’ll get accused of raping their same-sex co-workers. And then everyone will get outraged.

  • Frau Direktor

    This is one of those times when it gets REALLY hard to stick to a balanced, non-violent way of thinking and acting about this. It gets really hard to be okay with sending emails and making phone calls to all the principals concerned. Most of all, it gets really hard not to think or say that some people just really need to be f****ing fragged. Oh, Dr. King, give me strength….

  • me

    I submitted a question to the DOD yesterday on their webiste (didn’t just send an email) regarding rapes by military contractors in Iraq. The form asked for your phone number and I put it in, and surprisingly someone called me today to address my concerns — he was very courteous. I told him that I wanted the DOD to respond to Rep. Slaughter’s letter and investigate rapes by contractors. He said that the DOD took such allegations seriously and that the Uniform Code of Military Justice applied to military contractors and they could be prosecuted, and that he was sure that Rep. Slaughter’s letter would be read and responded to. I’m not really convinced, but I thanked him for calling and I hope my question/letter will add to the pressure on the DOD to take action on this issue.

  • Michael Hussey

    There is one piece of good news. Jamie Leigh Jones was awarded the Suzanne McDaniel Public Awareness Award. The Houston Chronicle is the only news service that wrote about it.

    That is horrific! I hope the KBR supervisor and man who raped her get locked up.

    Under State Department rules, no contractor serving in Iraq can be prosecuted. If the contractors were under Pentagon supervision then they would fall under military law. The Bush administration moved contractors to State Department oversight so there would be no oversight. That is why Blackwater can shoot at U.S. military personal and kill an Iraq politician and get away with it.