The Nation has a detailed article. A woman working for KBR, a private contractor the US hires to operate in Iraq, claims to have been drugged and gang raped by her co-workers, possibly including her boss. The rape was then covered up.
This part enraged me (well, lots of it did, but this part too):
[Rape victims face] two major roadblocks in the fight for justice. The first is the battle to have the perpetrators prosecuted in criminal court — which, because of Order 17, may be nearly impossible. According to the order, imposed by Paul Bremer, U.S. defense contractors in Iraq cannot be prosecuted in the Iraqi criminal justice system. While they can technically be tried in U.S. federal court, the Justice Department has shown no interest in prosecuting her case. In fact, for more than two years now, the DOJ has brought no criminal charges in the matter. Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican who has taken up Jones’ cause, reports that federal agencies refuse to discuss the status of the investigation; meanwhile, in December, the DOJ refused to send a representative to the related congressional hearing on the matter.
Even more appalling, the Justice Department, which can and should prosecute most of these cases, has declined to do so. “There is no rational explanation for this,” says Scott Horton, a lecturer at Columbia Law School who specializes in the law of armed conflict. Prosecutorial jurisdiction for crimes like Jones’ alleged rape is easily established under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act and the Patriot Act’s special maritime and territorial jurisdiction provisions. But somebody has to want to prosecute the cases.
Horton wonders what the 200 Justice Department employees and contractors stationed in Iraq do all day, noting that there has not been a single completed criminal conviction against a U.S. contractor implicated in a violent crime anywhere in Iraq since the invasion.
[…] “You have 180,000 people over there, you’re going to have a few crimes. […] And if you eliminate law enforcement, the crimes are going to get worse because people will quickly learn they can get away with it.”
This is an important point. Rapists exist no matter what the US government does, and that’s not the Republican Party’s fault. But it’s reasonable to expect the government to work to reduce rape and to punish rapists; instead, Republican leaders have chosen to be accessory to rape, by refusing to investigate or prosecute the crime.
Do I really think that Bush and his managers want Americans raped and the rapists to get off scott-free? No. But they consider that better than the alternative. In Bush’s eyes, for American contractors to be arrested and tried for rape would be unbearable; letting them get away with rape is, in the administration’s view, the lesser evil.
I can’t wait until these cancers in suits are out of office.
That said, even if we had a competent administration staffed by people instead of soulless monsters, there would still be too many rapes committed by Americans in Iraq. 1 There would be fewer such crimes, but they’d still happen, because the vastly uneven power relations and dehumanization brought about by war and occupation make rape of soldiers and of civilians inevitable.
This is one reason the Bush doctrine, which makes wars of choice inevitable, is evil. The cost of war is always hideous, and the rapes are just a small part of that. War should always be a last resort. It wasn’t in Iraq. The shame of it is that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens, and thousands of Americans, have paid the price for the fecklessness and warlust of US leaders. It would have been far better — both objectively and morally — if Bush, and Cheney, and McCain, and the rest of the pro-war leadership class had died instead.
- I’m ignoring for a moment the obvious point that if the current administration was staffed by competent, decent people, there never would have been an invasion of Iraq at all. [↩]