US: House Panel Looking Into Charges by Former KBR Employee
A House panel is looking into charges of sexual assault made by a former Halliburton/KBR employee in Iraq.
At a hearing next Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hear
testimony relating to allegations made by Jamie Leigh Jones that in
2005, a group of Halliburton/KBR employees in Baghdad drugged her and
gang-raped her less than a week into her time in the country.
The hearing comes on the heels of numerous letters from
lawmakers demanding answers in the case, which will be featured on ABC
News' "20/20" this Friday.
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, wrote earlier this week to Attorney
General Michael Mukasey, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a
State Diplomatic Security agent who allegedly worked Jones' case.
Jones has said Poe's intervention with the State Department
more than two years ago led to freeing her from the furnished container
in which she says Halliburton/KBR held her following her alleged rape.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., also wrote to Mukasey, to ask for an investigation into Jones' claims.
And House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., also wrote a letter to Mukasey, which was co-signed by Poe.
In a statement, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., blasted the
administration for taking so long to resolve Jones' case, calling it
"just another example of Justice Department's inability to complete an
investigation into possible wrongdoing by private contractors."
On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed
the department had investigated Jones' case and turned results over to
the Department of Justice. He declined to give specifics or comment
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Wednesday the case was under investigation. "We just aren't able to comment."
Halliburton, once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, has won
more than $16 billion in contracts with the U.S. government for work in
Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006. It spun off its subsidiary
KBR in April. Jones is suing both companies in civil court; Halliburton
says she has improperly named them as a defendant.
In a statement, KBR said it was "instructed to cease" its own
investigation by U.S. government authorities "because they were
assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations."
"The safety and security of all employees remains KBR's top
priority," it said in the statement. "Our commitment in this regard is
- 15 Halliburton