Civil rights attorney Peggy Garrity writes in the Los Angeles Times:
Events in a federal district court in Texas last month should have provoked outrage across the country -- legal, judicial and moral outrage. A young American woman already denied the right to criminal justice in Iraq was insulted for a second time when a judge denied her the right to sue for civil relief in a U.S. court.
What was the reason? There was a binding arbitration clause in her employment contract. The judge said: "Sadly, sexual harassment, up to and including sexual assault, is a reality in today's workplace." He then sent the case to binding arbitration as requested by Halliburton and its former subsidiary, KBR, snuffing out the civil case of their employee, a mother of five who had filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment and assault by co-workers while on the job in Iraq.
Sadly. It's just the way things are. Next!
A second woman is likely to face the same fate in the same court, in a case alleging that she was drugged and brutally gang-raped by co-workers in Iraq and then held incommunicado, without food or water, in a shipping container by the same employer. In an unbelievable statement to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, KBR said that after a medical examination, the woman was "taken to a secure unlisted living container where she could rest." It is hard to imagine any greater trauma to an already traumatized and injured rape victim than terrifying and forcible isolation immediately after the violent event. Adding insult to injury, the rape kit used by a military doctor in examining the victim was reportedly handed over to Halliburton/KBR, and doctor's notes and photos of her bruises are missing.
Confining a rape victim. Imprisoning her. Then magically disappearing the evidence.
There was no criminal prosecution of the alleged perpetrators because they worked for a defense contractor, which is exempt from criminal sanctions under an order enacted by the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq during L. Paul Bremer III's tenure as its administrator.
That would be the same legal exemption that may allow Blackwater to literally get away with murder. Because the Bush Administration always has its priorities straight: murder and rape are just a reality. Sadly. Because it's not about the war, and it's not about trying to create an atmosphere for peace. It's not about the Iraqi people, it's not about the people working for the contractors in Iraq, and it's certainly not about American service personnel. It's business. Very lucrative business. Sadly. It's just the way things are. Shocking, even.