In 2005, PFC LaVena Johnson, 19, died in Iraq. The military called it a suicide, and closed the case, but her family discovered her body badly mauled and mutilated (including the genitals) when it was sent home. Suicide seemed unlikely, especially since the bullet wound in her head was on the left side (LaVena was right-handed). Still, the army refused to investigate, and mainstream media has mostly shied away from the gruesome story. Johnson’s father, who has been interviewed by ABC News and 60 Minutes several times, claims this is due to intimidation from the highest levels in government. In other words, the military can’t afford the bad press.
According to statistics, women in the military have a one in three chance of being sexually harassed or assaulted. (Remember Private Benjamin?) Often, as in LaVena’s case, Halliburton military contractors are involved. We’ve heard many reports that Halliburton is overcharging the American military for substandard services, taking advantage of the confusion in a war zone. But now it appears Halliburton employees are playing by their own rules, which has been openly described as a “boys will be boys” culture.
In this culture, several cases of gangrape have been documented, including that of Jamie Leigh Jones on ABC’s 20/20. Jones was a Halliburton employee in Texas, who was transferred, with a pay raise, to Iraq. There she was housed in a barracks with over 400 men and just a handful of women. After enduring their catcalls and verbal harassment for days, she was slipped a blackout drug and woke up the next morning bruised and bleeding. Medical evidence handed over to Halliburton at the time proved Jones had been raped by more than one individual.
The evidence, however, was subsequently lost, and Jones says the case is at a standstill. One reason is that when you work for Halliburton, you sign a clause that you will agree to mediate any dispute with the company, should one arise, so victims are handicapped because they can’t take their complaints to court, at least not initially.
But Halliburton is also protected by the US Military. LaVena was last seen alive entering a Halliburton tent; when her body was found, a blood trail led to the same tent, yet the Military stuck to its conclusion. Luckily, the Cold Case Investigations Research Institute in Philadelphia has recently re-opened the case, and they are performing their own ballistics and forensic examinations. Maybe more evidence will come to light, and illuminate the mystery of Johnson’s death. But if you’re a girl, I’d avoid the area. Having a gun won’t protect you.