Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is calling for a formal government investigation into allegations that a young female American contractor was gang-raped in Iraq and then held incommunicado in a large shipping container by her American employer, KBR, then a subsidiary of Halliburton.
"These claims must be taken seriously and the U.S. government must act immediately to investigate Ms. Jones' claims," Sen. Clinton wrote in a letter today to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
As the Blotter on ABCNews.com reported this week, Jamie Leigh Jones says that after she'd been raped by multiple assailants in her room at a KBR camp in the Green Zone in the summer of 2005, she was warned by company officials that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.
"Don't plan on working back in Iraq, there won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.
Jones' story is the subject of an upcoming "20/20" investigation. More than two years after the rape, no criminal charges have been brought against her alleged assailants, and ABC News could not confirm that any federal agency was actively investigating the case.
"If one of your departments has already launched a private investigation, I urge you to disclose the findings," writes Clinton. "If no investigation has been started, I urge you to decide the proper course for an inquiry into these claims and to commence your investigation with the utmost urgency."
Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, says it "is improperly named" in the suit.
In a statement to ABC News, 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 a statement. "Our commitment in this regard is unwavering."
In a March 2006 letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, KBR stated that following Jones' medical examination, she was "taken to a secure unlisted living container where she could rest" and that she was provided a meal at dinner time. KBR also stated that a human resources coordinator at KBR "made arrangements for Ms. Jones to telephone her parents," though Jones says she was only able to do so after she asked one of the armed guards stationed at her container to lend her a cell phone.
"The company did, however, take prompt action in response to Ms. Jones outcry and was quick to offer her all manner of support and counseling in an effort to assist her," wrote KBR's attorney Shadow Sloan of Vinson & Elkins.
Despite KBR's claims, the EEOC determined earlier this year that KBR's investigation was "inadequate and did not effect an adequate remedy."