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US: House Panel Looking Into Charges by Former KBR Employee


by Justin RoodABC News
December 13th, 2007

A House panel is looking into charges of sexual assault made by a former Halliburton/KBR employee in Iraq.

At a hearing next Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony relating to allegations made by Jamie Leigh Jones that in 2005, a group of Halliburton/KBR employees in Baghdad drugged her and gang-raped her less than a week into her time in the country.

The hearing comes on the heels of numerous letters from lawmakers demanding answers in the case, which will be featured on ABC News' "20/20" this Friday.

Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, wrote earlier this week to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a State Diplomatic Security agent who allegedly worked Jones' case.

Jones has said Poe's intervention with the State Department more than two years ago led to freeing her from the furnished container in which she says Halliburton/KBR held her following her alleged rape.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., also wrote to Mukasey, to ask for an investigation into Jones' claims.

And House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., also wrote a letter to Mukasey, which was co-signed by Poe.

In a statement, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., blasted the administration for taking so long to resolve Jones' case, calling it "just another example of Justice Department's inability to complete an investigation into possible wrongdoing by private contractors."

On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack confirmed the department had investigated Jones' case and turned results over to the Department of Justice. He declined to give specifics or comment further.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Wednesday the case was under investigation. "We just aren't able to comment."

Halliburton, once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, has won more than $16 billion in contracts with the U.S. government for work in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006. It spun off its subsidiary KBR in April. Jones is suing both companies in civil court; Halliburton says she has improperly named them as a defendant.

In a statement, KBR said it was "instructed to cease" its own investigation by U.S. government authorities "because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations."

"The safety and security of all employees remains KBR's top priority," it said in the statement. "Our commitment in this regard is unwavering."





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