A front-page story by James Risen in The New York Times on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008, reported on a "troubling trend" of sexual assaults committed by American employees of military contractors in Iraq. The centerpiece of his story was Jamie Leigh Jones, who claimed to have been brutally gang-raped in 2005 while working in the Green Zone.

(Risen also interviewed other women claiming to have been sexually assaulted in Iraq and -- for journalistic balance -- their attorneys.)

Jones infamously claimed that days after arriving in Iraq with KBR, then a subsidiary of Halliburton, she had been drugged and gang-raped by fellow employees. After reporting the rape, she said she was held by machine-gun-toting guards in a tiny shipping container by KBR managers, with no food or water for 24 hours, as retaliation.

You may have heard about Jones' sensational allegations –- they were reported on ABC's "20/20"; CNN; CBS News' "The Early Show," MSNBC, National Public Radio, in every major U.S. newspaper and lots of international media.

All she had to do was mention the words "rape" and "Halliburton," and journalists went wild!

Jones told her tale before congressional committees, on numerous TV shows -- and in a book she is actually writing, titled: "The Jamie Leigh Story: How My Rape in Iraq and Cover-up Made Me a Crusader for Justice." (Scheduled for release the third Tuesday after never.)

Then-senator Barack Obama demanded a State Department investigation into Jones' claims.

But no one jumped on Jones' story with more self-righteousness than Sen. Al Franken. He used her story to jam through a grandstandy "anti-rape" amendment to an appropriations bill. Rape would be stopped by prohibiting defense contractors from including mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts! (Coincidentally, banning arbitration would also help mountebank trial lawyers like John Edwards collect massive damages awards from illiterate jurors.)

The 30 Republican senators who voted against Franken's pro-trial lawyer amendment were promptly denounced as "pro-rape" across the Internet, on liberal talk radio and in mass phone calls to their offices.

And then a few weeks ago, the Times ran a microscopic, one-paragraph Associated Press story on page 13 of a Saturday paper, reporting that a jury looked at the facts and found that ... Jones made the whole story up.

Maybe Republican senators should consider sponsoring a bill punishing false rape allegations by employees of defense contractors.

When the time came to put up or shut up, Jones' "gang-rape" claim simply disappeared. DNA evidence showed she'd had sex with only one man, and he claimed it was consensual.

In fact, the whole crime disappeared: After a police investigation, no criminal charges were brought whatsoever.

Instead, Jones' lawyer brought a civil suit against KBR and its employees -- with a much lower burden of proof -- alleging only a routine he-said, she-said date-rape case.

Jones' claim that she had been drugged with Rohypnol was demolished by tests taken by a female military doctor the day after the alleged attack. Rohypnol is detectable for 72 hours, but there was no trace of it, or any "date rape" drug, in her system.

Jones said the attack was so brutal that her breast implants were ruptured and her pectoral muscles torn, requiring massive reconstructive surgery. This was contradicted not only by the female doctor who examined her the next day, but also by her own plastic surgeon back in Houston.

Her claim that KBR management had held her at gunpoint in a shipping container vanished when it turned out she had only remembered that part of the story two years after it supposedly happened (coincidentally, just as the media frenzy began).

Perhaps the Rohypnol made her forget something else: KBR employees, including security guards, don't carry guns, much less machine guns.

Having showcased Jones' original, false accusation in a 1,500-word article splashed across its front page, as soon as her story unraveled, the Times stared at its shoes and said nothing. In another six months, liberals will once again be citing Jones' case as evidence of the "troubling trend" of sexual assaults among military contractors.

If only Jones had accused Bill Clinton or any member of the Kennedy family of rape, the mainstream media might have greeted her allegations with a little more skepticism. But she accused employees of a company with a tertiary, long-ago, six-degrees-of-separation relationship with Dick Cheney. This was no time for fact-checking!

Still, wasn't it the tiniest bit suspicious to anyone in the media that Jones claimed KBR management responded to her rape claim by locking her in a shipping container?

Why would a company that already had a PR problem stick its neck out to protect accused rapists? Isn't it more likely that a corporation would sell out even innocent employees accused of rape? Surely, it must have occurred to them that she'd eventually get back to the U.S.

From the beginning, Jones' story was that she woke up remembering nothing of the night before ... and then suddenly realized she must have been slipped the "date rape" drug Rohypnol, beaten and gang-raped!

How do you go from total amnesia to deciding that you were the star of your own Lifetime made-for-TV movie? I don't remember offhand what I was doing last Tuesday, but this does not lead me to assume I was gang-raped.

Even before leaving for Iraq with KBR at the age of 20, Jones had made rape accusations against, not one, but two other men. A few years earlier, she told a doctor her boyfriend had raped her, and right before leaving for Iraq she accused a KBR supervisor of raping her. She was already 0-for-2 on rape allegations.

Just a few years after humiliating themselves over the Duke lacrosse case, it's nice to see the media weren't the least bit hesitant about leaping on another ludicrous rape claim.

Perhaps liberals were slipped Rohypnol, and that's why they can't remember that not every woman claiming she was raped is always telling the truth.

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