Thursday, March 06, 2008


A woman who says co-workers raped her while she was a contractor in Iraq should have her case tried in court, not settled in private arbitration, her lawyer told a federal judge Wednesday.
In a federal lawsuit,
Jamie Leigh Jones says she was drugged, raped and held against her will in a storage locker while working for KBR Inc., then a subsidiary of Halliburton Co., in 2005.
As part of her employment, Jones agreed to settle claims against the company in arbitration. But she never imagined such claims would include being imprisoned in a storage locker, said one of her attorneys, L. Todd Kelly.

The above is from Juan A. Lozano's "Attys: Iraq rape case belongs in court" (Associated Press) and how could anyone signing an employment contract expect that it would govern unlawful imprisonment let alone gang-rape? They couldn't. They could assume it would cover basic work place events but not crimes. Nor should it be allowed to cover crimes and circumvent the legal system long in place in the United States. Staying with legal news, from John Milburn's "Atheist Soldier Says Army Punished Him" (AP):

A soldier claimed Wednesday that his promotion was blocked because he had claimed in a lawsuit that the Army was violating his right to be an atheist.
Attorneys for Spc. Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation refiled the federal lawsuit Wednesday in Kansas City, Kan., and added a complaint alleging that the blocked promotion was in response to the legal action.
The suit was filed in September but dropped last month so the new allegations could be included. Among the defendants are Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Hall alleges he was denied his constitutional right to hold a meeting to discuss atheism while he was deployed in Iraq with his military police unit. He says in the new complaint that his promotion was blocked after the commander of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley sent an e-mail post-wide saying Hall had sued.
[. . .]

According to the lawsuit, Hall was counseled by his platoon sergeant after being informed that his promotion was blocked. He says the sergeant explained that Hall would be "unable to put aside his personal convictions and pray with his troops" and would have trouble bonding with them if promoted to a leadership position.
Hall responded that religion is not a requirement of leadership, even though the sergeant wondered how he had rights if atheism wasn't a religion. Hall said atheism is protected under the Army's chaplain's manual.

Tina Susman and Raheem Salman's "Compensation eludes many Iraqi families" (Los Angeles Times) detail an ongoing battle in Iraq for justice:

What makes a martyr?
Batul Abdul Hussein thought her son, Wesam Saleh, was one. On Feb. 13, 2007, as U.S. and Iraqi troops began enforcing a new security plan to quell violence in Iraq, the 25-year-old policeman left for his night shift. He never made it home alive.
As his patrol rounded a curve in southwest Baghdad, Hussein said, it came under fire from U.S. forces who mistook the armed Iraqis rolling toward them in the dark for possible insurgents. The Americans took the wounded Saleh to the U.S.-run hospital in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, but he died six days later, his mother said, showing photocopies of hospital records and his death certificate.
Now Hussein, a widow whose home is a threadbare room with a concrete floor off a trash-strewn alley, feels lost in a bureaucratic abyss as she tries to get compensation.Iraq's Interior Ministry has denied Hussein so-called martyr payments because it says Saleh was killed by friendly fire rather than insurgents. It recommended she seek help from the United States.
A U.S. military judge advocate also rejected her claim. "There was no evidence that U.S. forces acted either negligently or wrongfully," says the denial letter, dated July 5 and signed by a U.S. Army captain.

Meanwhile Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) details the latest response to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vist to Iraq: Petraeus and Ryan Crocker insist -- while providing no proof -- that Iran is "training" the insurgency. That might need to read "while still providing no proof." Also from McClatchy, Hussein Kadhim offers "An Iraqi pilgrim finds kindness in the 'Triangle of Death':"

With thousands of other Shiite Muslims, I walked through the infamous "Triangle of Death" where suicide bombers, presumably Sunni extremists, had attacked fellow pilgrims two days before.
Our trek covered 50 miles from Baghdad to the holy city of Karbala, and we passed through 14 cities, places best known as scenes of death, division and destruction.
On this, my second pilgrimage since the Americans overthrew Saddam Hussein, my fears turned to amazement as complete strangers, Sunnis and Shiites alike, opened their doors to me. The poor passed out food and sweet tea they could hardly afford.
I began the walk as a spiritual journey, a personal opportunity to feel close to Imam Hussein, the grandson of the prophet Mohammed, who was martyred in the year 680. By the end, I found the spirit of my nation in roadside tents, modest homes and gifts of food.

In the US, CBS and AP report:

An explosive device caused minor damage to an empty military recruiting station in Times Square early Thursday, shaking guests in hotel rooms high above. Police blocked off the area to investigate the explosion, which occurred at about 3:45 a.m., shattering the station's glass entryway. No one was injured. "If it is something that's directed toward American troops, then it's something that's taken very seriously and is pretty unfortunate," said Army Capt. Charlie Jaquillard, who is the commander of Army recruiting in Manhattan. He said no one was inside the station, where the Marines, Air Force and Navy also recruit. CBS News correspondent Jeff Glor reports a man wearing a gray hoodie was seen on a bike leaving the scene. Glor added that the FBI is joining the investigation.

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leila fadel
mcclatchy newspapers