First, a primer on the horrible details of the story of Jamie Leigh Jones (from the Australian, Dec 21, 2007, ‘Gang-raped by Contractors’) :
A TEXAN woman who claims to have been raped by American contractors in Iraq testified in Congress yesterday, telling legislators she was kept under armed guard in her trailer after reporting the incident.
Jamie Leigh Jones, 23, said she was gang-raped inside Baghdad’s Green Zone in July 2005 while she was working for Halliburton subsidiary KBR Inc, which has contracts with the US military.
Ms Jones said she knew of at least 11 other women who were raped by US contractors in Iraq.
“This problem goes way beyond just me,” she told the House of Representatives subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security.
Ms Jones said that on her fourth day in Baghdad, some co-workers, whom she described as Halliburton-KBR firefighters, invited her for a drink.
“I took two sips from the drink and don’t remember anything after that,” she said.
The next morning she woke groggy and confused and with a sore chest and blood between her legs. She reported the incident to KBR and was examined by an army doctor, who confirmed she had been repeatedly raped vaginally and anally. The doctor took photographs and made notes and handed all the evidence over to KBR personnel.
“The KBR security then took me to a trailer and locked me in a room with two armed guards outside my door,” Ms Jones testified. “I was imprisoned in the trailer for approximately a day. One of the guards finally had mercy and let me use a phone.”
Ms Jones called her father in Texas, who called his representative in Congress, Republican Ted Poe, who contacted the State Department, which quickly sent personnel to rescue Ms Jones and fly her back to Texas.
“Iraq is reminiscent of the Old Western days and no one seems to be in charge,” Mr Poe told the subcommittee. “The law must intervene, and these outlaws need to be rounded up and order restored.”
Ms Jones said the rape was so brutal she was still undergoing reconstructive surgery. She tried to get her case resolved first through KBR channels, then through the Justice Department. When neither course seemed to work, she gave an interview to US television network ABC.
After listening to the grisly details of Ms. Jones’ ordeals, my mind took me in some directions I’m not fully comfortable with. Specifically, the avenues for vengeance against the alleged rapists that exist in the “Old Western days”, Aka the lawless environment inhabited by US Contractors in Iraq. I posited that the same setting that condoned–and tried to cover-up–the gang-rape of a 20-year-old young woman could also condone vengeance in her name–an “Unforgiven”-type scenario, if you will.
For anyone who’s unfamiliar with the reference, Unforgiven was multi-award-winning film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. It heralded his return to the “western” genre of film that was the hallmark of his early career as an actor. Unforgiven radically altered the genre, however, presenting a gritty, brutal, morally ambiguous environ absent from Eastwood’s earlier westerns. The film begins with a knife attack on a prostitute by a john. Said john cuts the prostitute’s face badly, and, if memory serves me, would’ve hurt her much worst if his companion and/or other prostitutes didn’t intervene. After the sheriff imposes a small punishment on the men for the deed, the prostitutes in the brothel take up a collection and put a bounty on the two men. Clint Eastwood’s character, an aging widower with two young children, financial problems, and a dark past as a drunk and a murderer before his wife reformed him, takes the job and kills the two men in “cold blood”. Those murders are far from the climax of the film, and my synopsis leaves out most of the great details of the plot, but as I said, the murder of criminals in the fictional, nearly-lawless frontier society of Unforgiven is what most intrigued me as I read and viewed the grisly details of Jamie Leigh Jones’ rape.
In America, we expect justice when a violent crime like rape is committed, and demand it if there is evidence of the crime and witnesses to the crime. Owing to the “laws” governing contractors operating in Iraq (Bremer order 17 makes them immune to Iraqi law, other legal loopholes place them outside the reach of U.S. Criminal courts and the Uniform Code of Military Justice), there will probably never be a trial, let alone convictions, of the cowards who drugged and savagely raped Ms. Jones.
If Ms. Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers– if the allegations are true–and others in Iraq know this, it must weigh on their consciences. If, regardless of the horrible acts inflicted on Ms. Jones, justice cannot be carried out due to the legal black hole contractors operate in in Iraq, it must haunt the sleep of any men in Iraq who believe in justice and value the rule of law. What if conscience, personal moral codes, and knowledge that frontier justice is the only avenue for any justice to be gained causes a person or persons to seek vengeance? If these would-be vigilantes hurt, maim or kill the alleged rapists (This assumes some or all of the rapists are still in Iraq) would they be punished? Or would the same legal black hole and “wild west” environment of “contractor Iraq” that shielded Jamie Leigh Jones’ attackers from punishment protect them too?
Most likely it would initially, but with congress already trying to enact legislation to bring US contractors in Iraq under the rule of law, these hypothetical acts of vengeance would spell the end of Bremer Order #17 and the other legal loopholes protecting US contractors in Iraq. No one in congress or the State or Defense Departments would condone such actions. And the Contractor community wouldn’t tolerate frontier justice against their own. Laws would be hastily changed or enacted, with special focus on punishing some crimes (Vigilante “justice”) and ignoring others (such as Iraqi Government officials’ allegations of wanton murder of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater USA and other contractors) and the would-be vigilante(s) would find himself/herself/themselves the first contractor(s) tried and convicted of crimes up to premeditated murder (depending on the severity of their frontier justice) under U.S. Criminal Law or the UCMJ.
These are my speculations and personal thoughts only. I do not support or advocate the use of frontier justice on Ms. Jones’ alleged attackers.