Rape Amendment Passes

December 22, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

Al Franken’s amendment to the new DoD appropriations bill has passed.  Obama has signed it into law.

This is the  now infamous anti-rape amendment, which opens up and begins to hold accountable contractor abuse in cases involving sexual assault.  The vote was 68-30, which is not exactly close.  The thirty votes against?


Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Most of these people have  not explained themselves, but have carped loudly afterward at their “characterization” as somehow pro-rape.  An accusation Franken did not make.  (Part of the heat around this has been generated by Franken’s acrimonious row with Senator’s Corker and Alexander, who co-wrote an op-ed piece condemning the amendment.)  Senator Cornyn has been quoted in the after math thus:

Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape —and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don’t think it’s a very constructive thing.

Any embarrassment seems, however, to have been self-acquired in this case.  Senator Sessions complaint about the amendment curiously misses the point of it while sounding a standard Republican note:

“Congress should not be involved in writing or rewriting private contracts,” he argued. The bill was, he maintained, a “political amendment at bottom, representing a political attack on Halliburton.”

The back-story behind this involves a contract worker,  Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang raped by coworkers in Baghdad.  Because of a binding arbitration clause in her contract, she and others were not technically allowed to bring this into the open.

Sessions—and perhaps many of his colleagues—see this as a question of the sanctity of contracts trumping all other law and evidently moral argument.  Perhaps they’re afraid contractors like KBR won’t work for the government anymore unless such acts can be neatly sweapt under the carpet?  Absurd.  KBR likely wouldn’t exist without government contracts (ours and others), so it must be something else (possibly relating to campaigns…)

Once more, however, the Republicans are making themselves out to look like fools over an issue which has no (one hopes) sympathy with mainstream voters, but seems creepily consistent with the Religious Right wing of the party, who have difficulty understanding rape as a concept.  Strictly speaking (so one can hear the argument go), Jamie Leigh Jones, being a woman, shouldn’t even have been there, working for KBR, with other men not related to her, and therefore what happened to her was perhaps at her (possibly unconscious) invitation.  I can hear one of them saying in defense “Well, it’s not like the Muslims—at least they didn’t stone her to death.”

Of course, that is conjecture.  I have no evidence that any of them actually think that way…well, not much.


Category: American Culture, Culture, Law, Noteworthy, Politics, Social justice

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

Comments (2)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    This is another chance to bring up the need for passing the Arbitration Fairness Act, sponsored by Russ Feingold. There shouldn't be any such thing as a pre-dispute arbitration requirement in the employment area (and in other areas to, such as consumer contracts). If arbitration is such a good thing (and it often is), the parties will mutually reach for it once a dispute arises.

    We need to keep in mind that arbitration strips the parties of their right to a jury. This is especially important where the party with more leverage (the employer) has pre-chosen the arbitrator. Fortunately one of the most corrupt arbitration associations, NAF, voluntarily went out of business when sued by the State of Minnesota. http://pubcit.typepad.com/clpblog/2009/07/consent

    For the Arbitration Fairness Act, see here:


    Shame on those republicans, who voted against Franken's amendment, but this problem with pre-dispute arbitration goes way beyond DOD contractors. If our media could get beyond Tiger Woods and other freak stories, they would report numerous incidents that would thoroughly convince most folks that pre-dispute arbitration requirements are terrible, except where all of the parties are bargaining at arms length with equal sophistication.

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Mark: Did you see that Franken's amendment passed overwhelmingly?

    In October, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) proposed a key amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill. Yesterday, it was signed into law. Franken's measure passed, 68 to 30. The 30 opponents — representing 75% of the entire GOP Senate caucus — were Republican men.

    Alternet story here.

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