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28 August, 2008

Defense Contractors Get Away with Rape and Murder in Iraq

In October 2005, The Chicago Tribune reported that Halliburton subsidiary KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown and Root) was supplying U.S. military bases and private contractors with "cheap labor" in Iraq. The laborers were mainly impoverished Asians who had been promised jobs in luxury hotels in Jordan, and who had paid large "broker fees" up front. Their passports were then confiscated and they ended up working in Iraq. The Tribune reported that 12 of the laborers from Nepal had been kidnapped on the road by Iraqi insurgents and were later killed while traveling in unprotected vehicles. (Chicago Tribune, October 9, 2005)

On August 27, 2008 a lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court by relatives of the deceased, alleging that the Asian laborers were captured and killed in 2004 while on their way to work on the Al Asad Air Base, a U.S. military base in Iraq. They had been promised work in a posh hotel. A survivor of the attack, Buddi Prasad Gurung, was forced to work 15 months in a warehouse on the U.S. military base. There were a number of recruiters and contractors, "but they all seem to end at KBR's doorstep."

Defense contractors seem to like putting people in boxes and making them their slaves. In 2007 it was reported that KBR covered up (at least one) gang rape of a U.S. civilian in Iraq. Jamie Leigh Jones was kept in a shipping container in the "Green Zone" for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, with armed guards outside her door. She was drugged and gang raped by defense contractor employees. Jamie was finally able to borrow a cell phone to call her father, who called the State Department to urge them to rescue his daughter from her own employer: Halliburton/KBR. The rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers. Halliburton says KBR is no longer their company.

Her attorney believes these men operate with the idea that they are without laws. Not only are defense contractors immune to prosecution in Iraq, but they are apparently immune to paying taxes. KBR has avoided paying something like $500 million in taxes. What do you think of KBR getting away with rape and murder?

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