Washington, Dec 12, 2007 - CLICK HERE TO WATCH
Madam Speaker, 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," held against her will by villains of the desert, thousands of miles away from home in Texas. This is her story.
Madam Speaker, Jamie Leigh Jones was a 20-year-old woman who worked for Halliburton KBR. (Halliburton has divested itself from KBR since 2005). She was sent to Iraq as part of her employment. She was sent to Baghdad to a place, ironically, called Camp Hope, in the supposed Green Zone that was suppose to be safe.
After being in Iraq only a few days, she said she was held against her will, drugged, gang-raped by KBR firefighters. 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 assault and crime, and of course needed 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 had been seen by Army doctors in Baghdad and had been given, apparently, good medical care while being treated in Baghdad. A forensic sexual assault examination was performed on her. This examination is commonly called a rape kit. Doctors take forensic samples from a sexual assault victim and then they are preserved as evidence for trial in this rape kit.
But, Madam Speaker, for some unknown reason, the Army doctors turned this rape kit over to Jamie's employer, KBR. KBR then lost the rape kit. The rape kit was later found, but it had been tampered with. The photographs are now missing, and the Army doctor's cover sheet with the medical findings are not there. These are critical for prosecution of the rapists.
Madam Speaker, Jamie's brutal injuries were severe. She has had to have reconstructive surgery because of the extent of these injuries by these rapists in Iraq. Once she was home, we pressured the State Department to find out who these villains of Baghdad were; where are they, and why haven't they been prosecuted. After so much time, there is little progress on the investigation. We need to know also if KBR had knowledge of the crime and if they are involved to any extent.
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, are angels to the people in our communities.
Jamie has had the courage to publicly tell about this most personal crime against her. So my office and now ChairmanConyers 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. Also, hundreds of American civilians like Jamie are in Iraq working in support of America's military mission. When these American civilians become victims of crimes by other Americans, it is unclear who's 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.
Madam Speaker, let me tell you about sexual assault. I was a former judge and saw these victims and their perpetrators in court, and these demons that do these dastardly acts against victims don't commit these crimes for sexual pleasure, but, Madam Speaker, they do it to destroy the inner soul of these victims.
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.
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