Jan. 8, 2008 -- The Defense Department's top watchdog has declined to investigate allegations that an American woman working under an Army contract in Iraq was raped by her co-workers.
The case of former Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones gained national attention last month. An ABC News investigation revealed how an earlier investigation into Jones' alleged gang-rape in 2005 had not resulted in any prosecution, and that neither Jones nor Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been able to get answers from the Bush administration on the state of her case.
In letters to lawmakers, DoD Inspector General Claude Kicklighter said that because the Justice Department still considers the investigation into Jones' case open, there is no need for him to look into the matter.
"[T]he U.S. Justice Department has issued a statement that they are investigating the allegations," wrote Kicklighter's office to Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who had requested he look into the matter. "No further investigation by this agency into the allegations made by [Jones] is warranted."
"We're not satisfied with that," a Nelson spokesman said.
Jones' lawyers also professed disappointment. "How could the Department of Defense refuse to help [Jones]?'" asked attorney Stephanie Morris, who noted that the criminal investigation into Jones' allegations has been going on for more than two and a half years, without apparent results.
Despite deferring to the Justice Department, Kicklighter's office told Nelson it was willing to pursue other questions Nelson raised about Jones' case. Kicklighter agreed to explore "whether and why" a U.S. Army doctor handed to KBR security officials the results of Jones' medical examination, a so-called "rape kit," which would have contained evidence of the crime if it had occurred.
In a separate letter, Kicklighter's office said that the State Department had said its security officials had Jones' rape kit in their possession at one point.
The State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security told Kicklighter "evidence in the rape kit was collected by a U.S. Army doctor and was later provided to [the Bureau of Diplomatic Security]," the IG's office wrote to Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Alaska, who had asked about Jones' case.
An Army spokesman referred questions about the rape kit to the State Department, which declined to provide new information on the case.
Halliburton/KBR, a Houston, Texas-based government contractor once led by Vice President Dick Cheney, employed Jones until shortly after her alleged assault. Halliburton spun off KBR last year. Jones has since filed suit against KBR and Halliburton. Halliburton says they have been wrongly named in the suit; KBR has maintained that "the safety and security of all employees remains KBR's top priority," it said in a statement. "Our commitment in this regard is unwavering."
Nelson and other lawmakers have also requested information on rape allegations by Jones and others from the Department of State, which initially investigated Jones' allegations, and the Department of Justice. To date, none have reported receiving information.