Friday, November 13, 2009

Military contractors get free pass when raping?

You would think by now that the message has gotten through to people: Rape is a crime, anyplace and anytime. It apparently hasn't reached the ears of some US Senators.
A few weeks ago, ex-comedian Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) put forward a bill that would prevent the US Department of Defense from signing contracts with private companies that require their employees to resolve sexual harrassment and / or assault via private binding arbitration rather than through the courts. In effect, the situation as it currently stands gives service companies -- I'll let you guess which ones -- immunity from prosecution, and the Franken amendment if it becomes law would end that immunity. The amendment passed in principle, as well as it should -- the vote was 68 to 30. But on the way there, 30 Senators, all Republicans, voted against it.

In many states, as well as in most of Canada, a restaurant or bar can be held liable if they were aware someone had too much to drink then hit the road and caused an accident under the influence. Furthermore if it was one of their employees that had one too many, they'd be fired on the spot as well as facing criminal charges. Most companies nowadays have strict sexual harrassment policies knowing full well that they could be held liable if they create a "hostile work environment" that allows such discrimination to take place.
Why should it not be any different with contractors on the battlefield? Should they not be held to the same standards as those who wear the uniform and could face a court martial if they committed similar acts?
As it turns out, President Obama's Defense Department is trying to get the amendment killed as it goes to conference for reconciliation and a final vote -- they say it would disqualify too many current and potential contractors. Tough. Taxpayer money should not be subsidizing criminal acts and those who do commit such acts should face justice, both monetary and criminal. It's that simple.

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