Saturday, October 10, 2009

Alexander, Corker Vote No On Punishing Rapists

Tennessee Senators Alexander and Corker decided to vote against a proposal to allow victims of rape to have a day in court - along with 28 other Republican senators this week. I'd bet that vote will not be mentioned in their campaign fliers and stump speeches for re-election. Tennessee voters and Tennessee media outlets should ask them to explain why they oppose allowing rape victims to prosecute their attackers in a court of law.

The case has been lightly covered by the national media, despite congressional hearings which examined the sexual assault of a 19 year old American woman, Jamie Leigh Jones, who was working in Iraq with Defense contractor Halliburton/KBR. Jones was drugged by male co-workers and gang raped in 2005, she was sodomized and her breast implants were ruptured during the attack. When she complained to her bosses, they locked her into a shipping container with no food or water for 24 hours under armed guard. She was able to get a cell phone thanks to a sympathetic guard and contacted her parents, who then contacted Congressman Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas, who helped encourage the State Department to remove her from KBR custody.

A long battle then began - KBR argued that Jones signed an agreement that disputes with her employer would be handled via arbitration only - no public court hearing allowed. They added a new policy for employees, too, banning the use of cell phones for personal calls. In September of this year, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that she does have a right to bring her case to court, that being gang-raped, drugged and held prisoner are not actions to be regarded as "work-related".

Sen. Al Franken introduced and passed legislation to withhold tax payer dollars and contracts to Defense companies if they restrict employees from taking cases of sexual assault and battery to court. And 30 Republican senators - including Alexander and Corker - voted against the legislation. Even America's Chamber of Commerce lobbied against the legislation.

Senators who voted No include Sen, John McCain and others:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Since Jones first brought her case forward, many more other women working with the contractor have told how they too were sexually assaulted by Halliburton/KBR employees.

It's a shame the Senators Alexander and Corker support lawless and brutal crimes, hold Defense contractors above the law and consider rape and assault worthy of secrecy.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really glad you covered this. I had a post in the works but wasn't able to finish it. I called both Alexander and Corker about this, Corker's aide got back to me yesterday but I didn't get a call back from Alexander's office.

    Basically I was told Corker voted against it because he felt that because the KBR employee was able to take her case to court and they ruled that things like rape should be exempt from arbitration agreements, it had been "taken care of."

    And also--and this was what shocked me the most--Corker objected to the fact that the Franken Amendment added discrimination to the list of violations the court exempted from arbitration (rape, sexual harassment, kidnapping, etc.). So he the U.S. government can contract with private companies who don't think discrimination is a serious enough issue that you should seek restitution from the courts over.

    You know, for a middle aged Southern white guy I guess that makes sense. He has no idea what it's like to be discriminated against.