Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) applauds the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for holding todays hearing on how to close the legal loopholes and prosecute violent crimes committed overseas by American civilian contractors.
I became involved in this issue nearly three years ago when my constituent called me asking for help for his daughter, Jamie Leigh Jones, Poe stated in written testimony. The United States government has a responsibility to protect American civilians who work in support of an American military mission overseas. The government affords these protections to American citizens on American soil and to American soldiers in combat, but the government doesnt know how to react when the crime involves contractors. This is unacceptable.
Congressman Poe has championed the effort to bring justice to Ms. Jones and raise awareness within our federal agencies to the serious issue of crimes on American contractors overseas.
Its been nearly three years since Jamie was assaulted, but still she has not seen justice, stated Poe. Although an Assistant US Attorney interviewed Jamie and a State Department Special Agent investigated her case, Jamie was left in the dark about the status of her case for long periods of time. After two and a half years, Jamie wanted answers, so she decided to go public with her case.
Since Ms. Jones decision to go public with her story, Congressman Poe has repeatedly demanded answers into the investigation on her behalf and asked for an explanation of government protocol in investigating all crimes against civilian contractors overseas.
My repeated inquiries to the Department of Justice have received generic responses, all providing already known information, continued Poe. In January, I sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates along with 110 Members of Congress, requesting detailed information on the policies, procedures, and protocol that exist to prevent and respond to sexual assaults on contractors in Iraq. In his response, Secretary Gates informed me that he called for the Department of Defense Inspector General to conduct a review of the Departments policies and procedures regarding crimes committed against civilian contractors in Iraq and for possible recommendations. I look forward to the conclusions and recommendations, but in the interim, we must not forget the women victimized in Iraq and further victimized by the system that is set up to deliver justice.
Poe concluded his statement by stating, Americans cannot go abroad and commit attacks on fellow Americans without the long arm of the law holding them accountable. Jamie deserves justice; the other victims deserve justice; and justice is what we do in America. And thats just the way it is.
Congressman Poe serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; founder and co-chair of the Congressional Victims Rights Caucus and is recognized nationally for his dedication and support for victims and children.For a list of todays witnesses, please visit the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs website: http://www.senate.gov/~foreign/.