Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)
In the deserts of Iraq a war is going on against the enemies of America. In the heat and dust of the summer of 2005, a young American went to fight, not against al Qaeda, but for her own survival. She became the "Hostage of Baghdad," thousands of miles away from her home in Texas.
Last week, Jaime Leigh Jones and her family joined me in Washington, DC to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. This is her story.
Jamie was a 20-year-old woman who worked for Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR). She was sent to Iraq as part of her employment. She was sent to a place in Baghdad, ironically called Camp Hope, in the supposed safe “Green Zone.”
After being in Iraq only a few days, she said she was drugged and attacked by co-workers. The people in charge of her held her hostage in a ship cargo container for 24 hours without any food or water. She became an American hostage; held hostage by fellow Americans.
She convinced one of the people guarding her to let her borrow his cell phone. After obtaining the cell phone, Jamie called her dad in Texas and pleaded for help and begged to be rescued. She was scared, she was hurt, she was half a world away from home and she was alone.
Jamie's dad called me because I represent him in Congress. Her father relayed the tragic story and his need for immediate assistance. My staff and I were able to contact the right people in the United States State Department, and within 48 hours two agents from the embassy in Baghdad found and rescued Jamie, made sure she received appropriate medical attention, and brought her home.
Jamie was seen by Army doctors in Baghdad and apparently given good medical care. A forensic examination was performed on her. But, for some unknown reason, the Army doctors made the mistake of turning over the evidence to her employer and as it was transferred back and forth between KBR and the Army, the evidence was compromised. The photographs taken during the examination are now missing and the Army doctor's cover sheet with the medical findings are not there. These are critical for criminal prosecution.
Jamie's injuries were severe and she had to undergo reconstructive surgery. Once she was home, we pressured the State Department to find out who these villains of Baghdad were and why haven't they been prosecuted. After so much time, there is little progress on the investigation.
Jamie has decided to go public with her case. This case, like all such cases, remained confidential in our congressional office until she made the events public. Congressional offices do not divulge the content of personal case files like this because they are considered privileged communication and they are private.
My tremendous case worker, Patti Chapman, worked with Jamie since her rescue and has helped her in this most tragic case, and helped her in a compassionate way. Patti Chapman, like many congressional caseworkers, is an angel to people in our communities.
Jamie has had the courage to publicly tell about this most personal crime against her. So my office and now Chairman Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee have contacted the Attorney General and the State Department and we want answers about this case and the investigation.
Specifically, what is going on over there in Iraq? American citizens have civil rights overseas as well. Crimes committed against them must be investigated. Criminals must be held accountable. Our government has the legal and moral duty to capture these villains of Baghdad.
Thousands of American civilians, like Jamie, are in Iraq working in support of America's military mission. The overwhelming majority of these people are good folks supporting our country and working hard to provide for themselves and their families. But, for the few that think they have escaped the long arm of the law, we must make it crystal clear who is enforcing the law. Our government must clear up this confusion, because currently there seems to be an environment of lawlessness. These criminals must be held accountable.
Jamie Leigh Jones survived and has been rescued, but the outlaws still roam the deserts of Iraq like the outlaws in the days of the Old West. We need justice. We need the law to intervene and round up these outlaws for their day in court. Let justice be swift; let it be severe; let it be serious. Because justice is what we do in America.
And that's just the way it is.