Tuesday, December 11, 2007

John Conyers and Ted Poe Information Request On Jones Case

John Conyers and Ted Poe have requested the Justice Department give them information on status of the Jamie Leigh Jones case. Jones has gone through State Department channels for two years and has little idea of what (if any action) has been taken on her behave. The Justice Department refused to comment to ABC News about the case. That is hardly a confidence builder.

The Conyers and Poe letter:

December 11, 2007

The Honorable Michael Mukasey
United States Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

We are writing to follow up on the letter sent yesterday by Representative Poe concerning the Department’s response to American Jamie Leigh Jones’ report that she was assaulted and raped by fellow employees of Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad, and that in the aftermath of this assault she was imprisoned under armed guard for over 24 hours without food or water.1

Ms. Jones further states that she was told she would be fired if she sought outside medical care and that the results of a medical examination documenting the alleged rape were given by U.S. Army personnel to KBR security and have now “disappeared.”

This report of criminal misconduct directed against a U.S. citizen at the hands of employees of an American-based corporation working in Iraq at the behest of the U.S. Government, as well as a possible cover-up and destruction of evidence, is deeply troubling.

It also raises broader concerns, which the Judiciary Committee has already been investigating, about the Department’s role in enforcing laws protecting Americans who are working in Iraq.

In addition to the general questions in yesterday’s letter, we ask that you provide answers to the following specific questions as soon as possible, and no later than Tuesday, December 18, 2007:

1. Based on the facts as reported by Ms. Jones, does the Department believe that it has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute in this matter under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000, 18 U.S.C. § 3261, or section 804 of the USA Patriot Act, 18 U.S.C. § 7(9)? Please explain.

2. Has the Department investigated Ms. Jones’ claims?

a) If not, why not?

b) If so, please describe the course and current status of the investigation and whether it includes the apparent destruction of evidence described above.

c) If so, what offices of the Department have participated in the investigation? Which Assistant Attorney General is responsible for this and other investigations of alleged crimes within the Department’s jurisdiction committed in Iraq?

d) If so, is the investigation limited to events alleged to have occurred in Iraq, or is the Department investigating events that may have occurred in countries other than Iraq, including the United States?

3. ABC reports a statement by KBR that “it was ‘instructed to cease its own investigation by U.S. government authorities ‘because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations.”

a) Did the Department issue such an instruction to KBR?

b) If so, please describe the exact terms of the instruction and explain when, why, and by whom it was issued.

c) If not, do you have any information regarding whether any other component of the US government issued such an instruction? Which one?

d) If some other agency issued the instruction, what is the basis for an assertion that an agency of the US Government other than the Justice Department can have “sole responsibility” for all related criminal investigations? Do you agree that the Department should be involved from the outset of an investigation into a serious criminal matter such as this one?

If the State Department's handling of the Blackwater shooting is any indication, they will stonewall. Worse case scenario is the accused will be granted immunity for testimony. That will effectively destroy what little chance there is for procecution.

What is interesting is the rats are jumping ship. Halliburton is trying to pass off accountability on KBR.

Halliburton says it is improperly named in the matter and expects to be dismissed from the case. "It would be inappropriate for Halliburton to comment on the merits of a matter affecting only the interest of KBR," the oilfield services company said in a statement.

The State Department is passing the Jones case off to the Justice Department.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined Tuesday to comment on specifics of the case, but he confirmed its Bureau of Diplomatic Security had responded to and investigated the incident. He said the results were turned over to the Justice Department.

The State Department freed Jones from imprisonment at the request of Rep. Poe. Jones details the State Department's bumbling handling on her diary.

February, 2007- I spoke with the state department and was told that my case had still not been presented to the AUSA for prosecution

March, 1, 2007- I contacted the state department and asked when my case would be presented to the AUSA- I was told my investigator was on vacation.

March 16,2007- I was told that my case was sent via FedEx to the AUSA in Florida . I was told that the AUSA was out but would review my case the week of 3/26

April, 25, 2005- I called and asked the state department what the status of my case was or who I could call that would know. I let them know that I was quite concerned since I hadn't heard back from anyone in over a month.

April 26, 2005- The state department told me there s no update. “It is with the AUSA and I will call today but it is my experience that this is the time we want to be patient as their decision is the final one.”

Conyers and Poe are right to question the Justice Department's actions. What needs to be taken into account is why the State Department didn't suspend the contractors involved in the alleged crime and immediately launch an inquiry. A rape case is harder to prove as time elapses. How are we to believe these diplomats can run a country if they can't handle one criminal investigation?

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