Thursday, October 15, 2009

Josh Carples: Sen. Sessions should be ashamed

  With congratulations to Minnesota’s junior senator, Al Franken, on his recent legislative accomplishment, should come a denunciation of our own Senator Jeff Sessions.

  Here is the background: a 19-year-old female contractor employee for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton, was gang-raped by her co-workers while working in Iraq. After the assault, she was locked in a shipping container for more than 24-hours. Because of fine-print in her employment contract, she was informed that she was not allowed to sue her employer. The contract clause made sexual assault allegations to be subject to arbitration. Keep in mind that the assault would normally be a criminal matter, but this occurred in Iraq, outside U.S. criminal jurisdiction.

  Senator Franken proposed an amendment that any contractor doing business with the United States could not make sexual assault subject to arbitration, basically ensuring that future victims could have their day in court.

  While this amendment passed with bipartisan support, 30 Republican senators, including Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, voted against the amendment.

  What were Sessions’ reasons for this vote? He claims that this was a political amendment meant to attack Halliburton and that the government should not be involved in private contracts.

  Let’s be clear that the amendment applies to any contractor that does business with the government. “Any”, as in… well, any. There is no “This only applies to Halliburton” clause or fine print. You want government contracts? Take that clause out. Sounds easy enough, right?

  Now for his argument about private contracts, this amendment doesn’t apply to the entire private sector. It only applies to companies that do business with the government. Plus, how is that not the government’s job to concern itself with the practices or policies of recipients of taxpayer money? Remember the uproar over ACORN?

  The Daily Show's Jon Stewart take on the issue can be seen below:

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  About the author: Josh Carples is the managing editor for the Capital City Free Press.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

1 comment:

  1. Haliburton should never have been allowed to put arbitration (immunity) regarding a criminal act in the contract, in the first place. I don't care if it did happen in Iraq, if the company is a U.S. entity, it should abide by U.S. laws. Jeff Sessions usually uses better judgement in his actions, but I have to differ with him on this. Even if the lady had not been raped, being put in that container was enough to hold Haliburton responsible, at least in part. And since when does the Federal Government keep its nose out of anything, anyway? And since it has a contract with the Federal Government, there should have seen sanctions written in it before the contract was signed by the Feds. I can't see that an amendment that Franken propsed would "attack" Haliburton alone; I'm sure it would address ANY company doing business with the Government. Therefore, I don't understand Sessions' stand.

    Pat Sample, Montgomery, AL