al franken, hero for justice

I hope you've all heard about this by now, but just in case...

Remember Jamie Leigh Jones? Jones was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Iraq. The company colluded with their federal-government funders to cover up the incident. I've blogged about Jones several times; links to background below.

From Think Progress:
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR "if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court." Speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, Franken said:

"The constitution gives everybody the right to due process of law... And today, defense contractors are using fine print in their contracts do deny women like Jamie Leigh Jones their day in court.... The victims of rape and discrimination deserve their day in court [and] Congress plainly has the constitutional power to make that happen."

. . .

On the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) spoke against the amendment, calling it "a political attack directed at Halliburton." Franken responded, "This amendment does not single out a single contractor. This amendment would defund any contractor that refuses to give a victim of rape their day in court."

In the end, Franken won the debate. His amendment passed by a 68-30 vote, earning the support of 10 Republican senators including that of newly-minted Florida Sen. George LeMieux. "He did what a senator should do, which was he was working it," LeMieux said in praise of Franken. "He was working for his amendment."

Appearing with Franken after the vote, an elated Jones expressed her deep appreciation. "It means the world to me," she said of the amendment's passage. "It means that every tear shed to go public and repeat my story over and over again to make a difference for other women was worth it."

Now I'm going to do something I haven't done since leaving the US: send a US senator a thank you note. Al Franken is a hero for justice.

Think Progress has video of his speech from the Senate: go here.

Background on Jamie Leigh Jones from this blog:

  • those pesky rape kits, they're always disappearing: the incident and initial cover-up.

  • more on jamie leigh jones's struggle for justice: DoD and DoJ response.

  • u.s. dod will not investigate kbr gang-rape case: DoD says "who cares".

  • jamie leigh jones and at least 38 others: Jones has set up a foundation to help others in the same situation; at least 38 women have come forward through her efforts. More than two years after the Jones's assault, no criminal charges have been brought.

  • state of the planet: women in war, rape as a weapon: whether soldiers, employees or members of an invaded population, women in war are targets, rape is the weapon of choice.

  • a step towards justice for jamie leigh jones: A judge rules that her case will be ruled in public court, rather than the closed arbitration hearings that Halliburton and KBR insist on.
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