Our Corporate Overlords

There are three details in the Jones incident that stick with me on top of the just disgusting gruesomeness of the accusations.  One is that our government had to rescue her from her employer.  Two is that crucial evidence in the case, her rape kit, was turned over to her employer.  And three that there still seems to be some controversy about whether these private companies are beyond any law.

I know we’re supposed to sit around and fret about extra-national terrorists–who, for the sake of optimum fear-inducement are portrayed as young, poor, non-Christian, religious fanatics whose hatred for us binds them together across disparate nationalities and removes from them any fear of death or criminal reprisals.

But I fear the private armies of multinational corporations.  Is it too much to ask what loyalty Halliburton has to us?

What’s interesting to me is the way these fears already sit half-articulated at the edge of our awareness.  It’s like we get that violent people with no ties to anything but themselves are a real threat to us, but we expend all our energy on the war on terror in such a way that allows violent people with no ties to anything but their corporation to run amuck and for the people of the world to grow used to their involvement in world events.

I mean, remember when there was all that talk about how gangs were supposedly getting members to enlist for the training and combat experience so that they’d be more effective when they got home?  But isn’t it clear that that’s almost exactly how these private military companies work?  You get your training in the Armed Forces and then take your knowledge to the PMC, where more lucrative pay checks await.

This is one of the core problems of the United States, it seems to me–our ability to recognize a problem, while at the same time giving that problem the face of one of our favorite bogey-men.

We cover our real, terrifying problems with scary masks.

13 thoughts on “Our Corporate Overlords

  1. In all of the coverage of this story, very little of it has to do with the rape itself. No details about the who, what, when and where have emerged. Only the scandalous and probably criminal actions of her employer in covering it up are the focus of every news story. That troubles me.

    It troubles me that this story is all too believable. It troubles me that without any specifics whatsoever, we are all too willing to believe that this evil company condoned and protected the rapists while making the victim feel like a criminal all the while destroying the evidence and obstructing justice.

    The rush to judgment on our part is easy. Not accepting the breathless accounts in the media at face value until all the facts are in is what is difficult.

    In all probability, her attorneys are withholding her account of the actual rape until they can corner Halliburton in a legal venue.

    On the other hand, this could just be about money.

  2. Sure, Sarcastro, there can always be an ulterior motive. But this isn’t Walmart, it’s a worldwide defense contractor that is extremely powerful, and operates in almost total secrecy. Assuming it might “circle the wagons’ to protect itself isn’t a stretch.

  3. As is to be expected, there is much more to this story than what has been reported. In her EEOC complaint (which a prospective plaintiff must file before he or she can bring suit under Title VII) there were no allegations of gang rape, just a singular sexual assault by one man. Nor were there any allegations of imprisonment by KBR or refusal to provide medical care or any of the more salacious details of this story, which, incidentally did not come out until after she had filed suit and after her attorney has tried this case in the media in an attempt to bully KBR into a settlement. (Believe it or not, corporations are just as susceptible to bullying as individuals, yes they have the resources to fight these things in court, but do not have the PR capital to fight these things in the press).

    In fact the EEOC investigation found that she was not housed in a mens only dorm, that KBR provided prompt medical care and immediately transfered her back to Texas when she complained and that her initially reported injuries were no where near as severe as she now alleges.


  4. i dunno, sarcastro. after what we have already learned about military contractors in general, military contractors in war zones in specific, and Halliburton/KBR in particular, knee-jerk condemning them is not so much prejudice as informed judgement based on a long track record.

    sure, this time could be the exceptional case where a known bad player in a bad industry in a bad part of the world just so happens to act honorably and is taken cruel advantage of by a cynical individual who’s just out for money… but i’m not a betting man, myself, and the odds would seem to indicate otherwise.

    (and, heck, of course not a lot of details about a rape case yet to be prosecuted have been made public. that would be an outrageous miscarriage of justice all around, and would probably prevent any court from ever formally learning the facts of the case. you may notice that, for all the allegations of cover-ups and obstruction of justice, we aren’t hearing a lot of names, places and dates about those yet-only-alleged crimes either, and for the same reason. duh.)

  5. LE, god damn it. Are you kidding? If that ends up being the truth, I’ll just go lay down in front of my place to make it easier for Exador to drive up here, and dance around me in a mocking manner.

    But here’s the thing. Did or did not Poe have to call and have her rescued? I mean, it seems like a huge risk for him to be associated with a story demonstrably false.

    And, of course, it could be that her EEOC complaint was limited to what she could prove and not what happened to her.

    So, we’ll all go forward cautiously and also admitting that my larger points about the dangers of mercenaries stands.

    Ha, or not.

  6. As someone who has more than a passing familiarity with complaints to the EEOC, she could have put in any thing she wanted into it, and usually the EEOC complaint if much more inflammatory – it is an implied threat to the company that if you don’t pay me know all of this will become public when I file suit. After receiving the complaint the EEOC will investigate and in their investigation they did not find evidence of some of the more outlandish allegations. According to the EEOC findings, she was in Iraq for less than one week. That after she reported the assault she was placed in protective custody and transfered back to Texas as soon as it could be arranged. The EEOC did find that there was evidence that she had been assaulted and did not define what “protective custody” meant, but I doubt it was her sitting in a shipping container under armed guard.

    I am not sure what Poe’s relationship to all of this is, but I would not put it past one of our elected representatives to want to grab some free publicity as the saviour of a poor young women, and if her story does not check out I am sure that Mr. Poe will slink back into the woodwork.


  7. LE, I think what Helen wants to know is if there’s some place on this great World Wide Web we ordinary people can go to look at the documents filed in her lawsuit, too.

  8. Exactly. I’m a research engineer, so to me assertions without appropriate citation are just so much wasted words.

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