December 15, 2007
Bush Startlingly Inept in Answering Question About Military Contractor Accountability
By Gustav Wynn
Nine months after the July 2005 drugging and gang rape alleged by ex-Halliburton employee Jamie Leigh Jones, President Bush was asked in a public Q&A at John Hopkins University to explain how he proposes to bring private military contractors in Iraq under a system of law. The President was noticeably flummoxed by the question and clumsily stammered out a laughable non-reply before moving awkwardly off the topic.
But the importance of this question has taken on new life in the wake of a civil suit brought forward this week by the victim, as well as new allegations announced by Florida Senator Bill Nelson concerning KBR's former "Morale, Welfare and Recreation Coordinator" in Ramadi, a 41-year old woman who says a drunken KBR employee entered her living quarters and raped her in December 2005.
About the same time, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld himself attended a public Q&A at Johns Hopkins and was questioned on the same topic. Rumsfeld said "There are laws that govern the behavior of Americans in that country. The Department of Justice oversees that...[b]ut if you think about it, Iraq’s a sovereign country. They have their laws and they're going to govern, the UN resolution and the Iraqi laws, as well as U.S. procedures and laws govern behavior in that country...".
The JHU student had been voicing the concerns of many Americans pondering the unchecked free hand afforded private military contractors in Iraq and the region. Rumsfeld's explanation to her question left the student more confused then ever. She and the public at large could see clearly that Iraq was unable to enforce it's laws as an embattled nation under foreign occupation and in the middle of a simultaneous civil war.
Mistrust of contactors grew as video showing them randomly shooting at innocent civilians for fun had circulated online, but supporters of US Armed Forces had long resented the trend of replacing our troops with unaccountable civilians at obscenely higher salaries. This was made even worse by numerous accusations of favoritism and fraud in awarding no-bid contracts to crony corporations. KBR/Halliburton was found guilty in several separate incidents of double-billing, exposed for overcharging and even endangering US troops.
This led many to believe Dick Cheney was providing cover for the firm - even after Halliburton's disgrace in the rip-off scandals, they stayed on as the largest contractor in Iraq, with profits skyrocketing because of their tidy "cost plus" arrangements.
During his long tenure as CEO of Halliburton, Cheney used his White House connections to help secure defense contracts (perhaps this is why his number appeared on the call records of area escort services). Later as Vice-President he would return the favor, but Halliburton still gave the American people the ultimate flip of the bird when they announced they were relocating their headquarters to Dubai, become a foreign firm who will take advantage of lower taxes and cheap foreign labor.
So the freshman student waited until Bush's visit in April of 2006 to revisit the problem, and have Rumsfeld's boss personally clarify the matter. Bush, as you can hear in the audio clip, (video here) was not up to the task, deferring back to Rumsfeld who the coed stated in her original question had already left the question unanswered.
As this issue is now unfolding to include House Judiciary Committee investigations and calls for inquiry by Hillary Clinton and others, freshly-appointed Attorney General Michael Mukasey may soon have to answer for the inaction to this point. Some suggest that investigations will lead right back to his department, however - articles have already been published reporting a DOJ cover-up on the KBR gang rape.
Mukasey is going to have to answer doe past inaction? Oh puleeze! Mukasey doesn't even know if water-boarding is torture. He probably doesn't know if rape is wrong and should require consequences for the rapist.
Besides, we might as well come down out of La-la land and realize that no one in the Bush administration, let alone some sociopath working for KBR , is going to be held accountable for a damn thing they've done, just like Osama.
KBR's employment "fine print" left the women in both cases with little legal recourse - their terms of employment dictated private arbitration in cases of employee lawsuits. The track record for the arbitration firm Halliburton chooses historically rules in favor of the corporation over 80% of the time.
This means that Bush's dismissal of public calls for contractor accountability could have contributed to officials feeling the need to squelch or hinder this investigation. For example, officials who improperly gave KBR over the rape kit collected from the incident could be seen as having official complicity in the failure to protect evidence or failure to pursue evidence-tampering charges once it went lost.
All correspondence related to this case should be subpoenaed and reviewed at once to see how far high up the chain of command went. This clearly ties in to the many-headed hydra representing the corruption of this White House. Impeachment investigations would either implicate or exonerate Cheney and the others, so it's only fair to the White House to proceed, because they now stand accused of turning a blind eye to gang rapes and need to clear their names.
Authors Website: http://www.opednews.com/author/author3098.html
Authors Bio: GW is a proud American from NY State, concerned about ethics issues, media manipulation and the influence of corporations on healthy lifestyles. He has recently changed careers to become an inner city schoolteacher. A firm proponent of curbing overpopulation and international adoption, he hopes to adopt a third child and enjoys history, outsider art, garage rock music and rare records.
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