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Supporting Halliburton's Rape Clause
Al Franken's Anti-Rape Bill
Former comedian and current Senator from Minnesota Al Franken introduced an amendment to a defense appropriations bill prohibiting the United States Government from giving funds to contractors who include clauses in employment contracts that prohibit employees from bringing claims against the companies for sexual harassment, sexual assault or discrimination. The amendment was put forth after Franken learned of the case against Halliburton brought by Jaime Lee Jones. The Amendment passed but a remarkable 30 Republicans voted against it instead siding with companies like Halliburton.
The Story of Jamie Lee Jones
Jaime Lee Jones was an employee of Halliburton. Specifically, Jones was employed by KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary. She was 20 years old and was sent by the company to Iraq. In 2005 Jones and the few other females employed in Iraq were harassed and threatened by their co-workers. One day, Jones was drugged and gang raped by several KBR co-workers.
According to Ms. Jones, upon hearing about the incident KBR security forces locked her in a shipping container without food, water or any way to communicate with the outside world. A guard loaned Jones his cell phone and she called her dad, who called his Congressman who got her freed from the shipping container. She was treated by army doctors who found wounds consistant with rape but the investigation was turned back over to KBR security forces that promptly lost all the physical evidence.
The Bush Justice Department refused to bring charges against any of the KBR employees because of a clause in Jones’ employment contract that referred all disputes to Arbitration. To the Bush Justice Department, all disputes include criminal allegations of gang rape and false imprisonment.
The Republican Opposition To The Franken Amendment.
To be fair ten Republicans voted in favor of the Franken Amendment, including all four Republican women Senators. But thirty Republicans voted against it and their opposition was telling. Senator Jeff Session called the bill “a political attack directed at Halliburton.” Sessions also stated “The Congress should not be involved in writing or rewriting private contracts. That’s just not how we should handle matters in the United States Senate.” Neither Sessions nor the other thirty Republican Senators who voted against the amendment agreed to share their thoughts with any news organization.
Decide For Yourself - The Victim
Defense contractors are apparently lobbying hard to have the Amendment stricken from the final version of the bill. If this happens, and a Democrat is to blame, then that Democrat needs to lose his next election (in Hawaii.) But what this really shows is the continuing hypocrisy of many in the Republican Party. For many of the Senators who opposed this bill, rape in Iraq by Republican friendly Halliburton is not a big deal. But alleged misconduct by Democratic friendly Acorn is the end of the world as we know it. In response to hidden videotape by two young Republicans posed as a pimp and a hooker asking for tax advice, Republicans went after Acorn with vengeance, and Democrats joined the posse. In support of taking down Acorn, Republican Senator Mike Johanns said we should “prohibit one more penny of taxpayer money from going to Acorn.” Senator Richard Shelby stated, “We’ve gotta get corruption out of any organization that is taking taxpayer money.”
Yet for these same Republicans, Halliburton, and its numerous allegations of condoning the rape of young women should not be cut off their taxpayer money. For years, Halliburton received special treatment from the Bush Administration with no bid contracts despite findings by audits that much of the money was not used for its intended purpose. For years, soldiers have been complaining and been hurt by Halliburton’s shoddy work on government projects in Iraq. But Republicans choose to go after Acorn who has not been proved of any wrongdoing as of yet. Let Halliburton employees rape women, but lets not register African Americans.
As Jon Stewart said, If you have to side against rape victims to support Halliburton, perhaps you should change allegiances. Maybe Acorn should be let go, Democrats must concede that. But shouldn't Halliburton and other companies that take taxpayer money then ask Senators to stand behind their horrible behavior be told no more as well?
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