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For a political movement called "the right," it's ironic that the thing they hate most would be... rights.  In particular, civil rights.  

Holding people forever without charge?  That's okay by Republicans.  Torturing people until they're too crazy to speak in their own defense?  To put it in terms the right would understand, "ditto."

So is it any surprise that Republicans would use a spending bill as cover for allowing civilians to be tried in military trials?

Private contractors and other civilians serving with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan could be subject for the first time to military courts-martial under a new federal provision that legal scholars say is almost certain to spark constitutional challenges.

Constitutional challenge?  Come on.  Why would not giving civilians a grand jury hearing, or trying them before members of the military rather than a jury of their peers cause a problem?

And just who would fall into this new legal pit?  Lindsay Graham says one thing.

Graham said the change was aimed solely at holding contractors accountable.

But since the bill includes any American working in a war zone, the real targets of this end-around may be quite different.

But legal observers say it could be interpreted broadly to include employees with other government agencies, as well as reporters.

Hear that whistleblowers?  Or you hippie liberal reporters?  Let someone know about how money is being wasted in the war, or fire off a bad report from the Green Zone, and your next destination could be Gitmo.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:46 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Totally unconstitutional (12+ / 0-)

    You cannot try civilians under the UCMJ.

    I'm all in for the Obama win.

    by Walt starr on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:41:28 AM PST

    •  STOP! Let me off this planet NOW! (5+ / 0-)

      "The job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open."- Gunter Grass

      by Sigrid of Horg on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:46:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know, I'm all up for the Court Martial (0+ / 0-)

        as long as it involves the Commander and Chief (you know, the Supreme Fuckup) of our US Forces.  I think Court Martial's should consider right vs. wrong.

        And since our Deer Leeder is all worried about being considered wrong 'cause you 'Merican leekers done offed him 'cause he was bullshittin' and all, well, they  might want to take into account that he's been lying all the time.

        So fellow citizens, if you get some Court Martial summons from the ridiculous administration that we currently are cussing, let us know.  I'm pretty sure that will be the end of their bluff.  And bluffing they are.

        Don't take them serious right now.  They are in full "trying to make everyone think we are still in charge" mode.

        Laugh at them in person.  Laugh at them on line.  Keep fighting the good progressive fight.

        John Edwards to Republicans: I'm in ur base takin' ur votez

        by funluvn1 on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:35:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can W be court-martialed? I mean after all (0+ / 0-)

          he never did serve, being AWOL drunk and all.

          "The job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open."- Gunter Grass

          by Sigrid of Horg on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:55:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  this is a stupid thread - they belong under UCMJ (4+ / 0-)

          these contractors in Iraq need to be placed under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
          This is why, they look like soldiers to me, they are performing a military function.

          Really, what separates these guys from the military?  They are mixed right up with them in a combat situation.

          and This is really why they need to be under the UCMJ.

          They do shit like this.

          Guess what happened to these motherfuckers.  NOTHING!

          It is completely fucking stupid not to put them under the UCMJ.  We can't let them run wild like this, they endanger the mission and in doing so endanger our troops by doing this.  We can only have one chain of command, we can't outsource the chain of command.  These people are not covered by Iraqi law.  These people were previously not under UCMJ.  The only way they could be held to account is by being charged back in the US by a State court, not a federal court.  They were basically not covered by any law, whether it be for murdering someone, or corruption.  That is fucking stupid in a war zone with contractors taking on combat and logistics roles the military used to do.  They are an army that is outside the chain of command and were essentially subject to no law whatsoever, none.  BULLSHIT as far as I am concerned.  

          More importantly, if allowed to continue, this is a threat to our democracy, having an unaccountable army in our midst.  Remember what these fuckers did during Katrina.  They were just getting warmed up.

          •  I concur with pjv. This diary's criticism is (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Major Danby, McGirk

            quite hypocritical.  We on the left scream and yell about the lack of accountability for defense contractors on the battlefield--like those who tortured at Abu Ghraib.  We bitch and moan when they murder Iraqi civilians with impunity.  We can't stand that they make at least three times as much as their soldier counterparts.  We decry the outsourcing of war, and when we refer to them as "mercenaries," we say it dripping with invective.

            And now we're complaining when the "do-nothing Congress" actually gets off its ass to do something about this problem?  How is this not good?  I mean, I'm sure if anyone could find a loophole to use this against reporters, the Bush administration could.  But do you think that's really the intent of this thing?  Do you think that's what it will be used for?  I feel like we're against it simply because some Republicans are for it.  That's stupid.  There needs to be more accountability for contractors on the battlefield.

          •  The way the neocons set it up (0+ / 0-)

            the contractors are not liable for any bullshit they pull under either American or Iraqi law. Thus they have free reign to do anything they wish. They are detremental to the troops in many ways. This is the only option available.

            Just when they think they know the answer, I change the question. -Roddy Piper

            by McGirk on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 02:08:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Hang on a sec. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jimsaco, truong son traveler

            While I sympathize with your position -- these guys look like mercenaries to me too, and their abuses are creating a hell of a lot of blowback -- this proposal to expand courts-martial does not sound like it is being worded closely enough to limit the process to the "private military contractors" and profiteers.  If you haven't been following the Ehren Watada court-martial here in the US, you might find it disturbing precedent that a couple of reporters following this case have been ordered to appear.  If this proposal is as badly written as all this, it cannot be allowed to go forward.  That's not hypocrisy, it's making sure that journalists can provide objective coverage without fear of retaliation in the military court system.

            "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, volume three, issue 18

            by Noor B on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 02:37:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  exactly. However, (0+ / 0-)

              Mr Cuckoo will just tack on a signing statement saying in essence "I will interpret this consistent with my Article 2 power, and thus will do whatever the hell I want, and since you don't have 67 Senators to remove me, you can't do a thing about it."

              All we can do, is Pray.

              Hard core Libertarian: +6.63 / -4.41

              by jimsaco on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 03:01:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Constitution is in shreds (20+ / 0-)

      Bush has done his utmost to tear, spindle, mutilate, and shred our US Constitution.

      So what's the remedy for failure to uphold his oath of office to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America"?

      There is a Constitutional remedy for Bush's crimes:


      And impeaching Cheney simultaneously or first would be necessary since he is really calling the shots for the Unitary Chimp-dictator.

    •  Justice Starr, you have made your ... (7+ / 0-)

      ...decision, now try to enforce it.

    •  True. It won't happen. Been tried before. (7+ / 0-)

      Courts will toss it out.

      This is just a lazy approach to enforcing soe kind of legal system for contractors on the battlefield.

      Rep. David price wrote terrific legislation almost two years that still has not been adopted.

      THAT"S what you need for contractors.... not an expansion of the UCMJ.

      For those interested, you can start here

      ... we now know a lot of things, most of which, we already knew... (-dash888)

      by Tirge Caps on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:08:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's (7+ / 0-)

    It's those pesky Red Cross volunteers, and the other NGO humanitarian workers like Tom Fox.

    •  Bingo! (11+ / 0-)

      They will surely go after NGOs as well as journalists.

      As for contractors, they might prefer a court martial to a civilian trial. Where do you think they would get more sympathy for war crimes? A military tribunal is far more likely to let the criminal contractor off (as it has done with many offending soldiers) or give a lighter sentence.

      Bill O'Reilly's Culture Rage
      • O'Reilly's Talking Points ala Colbert's The Word

      by KingOneEye on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:51:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  better than the total immunity they have now (10+ / 0-)

        That's why I'm not totally opposed to this law.  Right now civillian contractors are beyond the Reach of ANY law, Military, U.S. or Iraqi/Afghani.  That means they can do and have done absolutely horrific things without ANY legal sanction whatsoever.  That's a very bad situation indeed and one this law somewhat remedies.

        Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

        by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:56:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you only have a hammer (4+ / 0-)

          Everything looks like a nail...

          The idea of being able to hold contractors legally liable for their actions is a good one, but this is the wrong way to go around it.

          I'm inclined to agree that a military court would be stacked by it's very existence against prosecution.

          We need some was of addressing the criminal behaviour, but why not just the regular court system as well as the corporation the employees work for?

          •  See my other posts (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            DemCurious, jfm

            for a longer explanation but the short answer is that the Article III of Constitution forbids the federal courts from having jurisdiction in a case like this.

            Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

            by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:25:28 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  What's wrong with the (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nina Katarina, Jesterfox, DSPS owl, jfm

              local systems? Most countries do have them, and if they don't, they may well be signatories to the ICC. Wouldn't these types of cases be something that would be exactly why the ICC was set up?

              If I'm working overseas, no matter who I work for, I fall under THAT COUNTRY'S laws. Ask the soldiers stationed in Okinawa who were tried for rape in Japanese courts. Ask the soldiers and civilians working anywhere overseas who run afoul of the local laws.

              They're almost always tried under local laws. LOCAL. That would mean IRAQI trials, IRAQI juries (provided you can find one), and IRAQI justice.

              Which has been pretty harsh of late...

              •  It's a slippery slope (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                truong son traveler, jfm
                One we start handing over rogue Blackwater goons (apologies for the redundancy), then the Iraqis might get all uppity and start asking why they can't try the brave rapists and brave murderers among our bravest of the brave.

                Wait... why can't they?


                The President is not my master. He is Chief among my servants.

                by DemCurious on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:43:40 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Usually there is a status of forces agreement (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Magorn, Lesser Dane, DemCurious, jfm

                  that allows the military to be tried by courtmartial. However, it normally doesn't preclude a local trial as well, if there's enough stink locally.

                  Most of the time, the troops are courtmartialed and sent home (to prison), but not always. Sometimes it's not a courtmartial offense, and the local law takes precendence.

                  It depends on the country. When we were stationed in Turkey, I knew a couple of guys who got locked up for DWI accidents. That wasn't courtmartial, it was Turkish law. There were some who went to prison for drugs too. Again, not US law - TURKISH law. And no courtmartial, either.

                  There's no reason why US military who commit crimes in Iraq can't be tried there - the ONLY reason is we don't want them to and WE destroyed their country so the legal system is basically non-existent.

                  I wouldn't be surprised if some Iraqi is keeping track of the names of those accused of these crimes, and when things settle down might just request an extradiction.

                •  well there is a pesky law (3+ / 0-)

                  Signed by our "Pro-consul" paul Bremer Almost literally in the dead of the night on the eve of the "handover" that Gave immunity to US contractors, and exempted them from the control of Iraq's courts

                  Supposedly there were all sorts of business reasons for this but the reality is  the effect is to make the Baghdad cowboys completely above the law.

                  Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

                  by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:39:21 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  other options... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Magorn, esquimaux, jfm

              since we can't assert criminal jurisdiction through U.S. courts, and we refuse to join the International Criminal Court (which we -- and in large part through U.S. MILITARY lawyers -- designed)

              maybe we should just hand over u.s. contractors suspected of criminal activity to the same Iraqi "justice" system that just ripped the head off of Saddam's half brother?

              that would be constitutional wouldn't it? and in conformance with international law (/snark)

        •  If contractors have immunity now... (5+ / 0-)

          ...the solution is not a broadly drawn mandate that they (and many others) fall within the UCMJ.

          The solution is to place them under the jurisdiction of American or Iraqi civilian law. You simply cannot give the military that kind of power over civilians.

          Bill O'Reilly's Culture Rage
          • O'Reilly's Talking Points ala Colbert's The Word

          by KingOneEye on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:08:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  the Problem is (4+ / 0-)

            The prolem is this:  Since the action occurred outside the US; and the perp is  not a member of a goverment Agency or the military; You cannot, constitutionally, place them under either US federal or state law.  The reason  has to do with the Supreme Court's interpretation of the words "arising Under"  in Section 2 of  Article III which  defines the juridictional limits of the Federal Courts.

            Since the US courts are out; and Iraq's civil court systems is a shambles to put it mildly; where does that leave Us to try these people?  The Hague would be a very good choice but the US not in favor of the the creation of an ICC and won't be until we get W out of office.  So in the meantime how do we close that gap?

            Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

            by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:24:03 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  any possibility (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Magorn, jfm

              that a contractor could be brought up on claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act?

              i've never been terribly clear on how this works, but maybe its a possibility?

              See ATCA.

              •  If the family were to bring a civil case (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                ATCA would indeed apply; but any subsequent judgment would likely be paid by his employer, and still no criminal liability would attach so the contactor himself gets off scott free.

                Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

                by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:32:05 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Jurisdictional Issues (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  In the June 29, 2006 decision I link to just below from the Saleh case, Judge Robertson dismissed the individual defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction with the forum (D.C.).  A new decision issued just last week denied plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration of that ruling, and also dismissed the other individual defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction as well.  In all instances, the judge found that the individuals had essentially no contacts with the District of Columbia and were thus beyond the ambit of the court's authority.

                  Of course, this makes it just that much more difficult for plaintiffs to attempt any recovery, as the corporations can always claim that the violations were the acts of certain rogue individuals.  Then, by separating themselves from the particular jurisdiction for which the court has authority over the company, the individuals are in a position where only their personal assets would potentially be at risk in the alternative forum.

                  Often, to be able to keep the corporations and individuals together, plaintiffs need to make a convincing claim of conspiracy, and this is frequently an uphill battle.  Legislation that would potentially grant universal jurisdiction over all defendants in such cases could theoretically cure this hurdle, but would almost certainly create a host of other problems which would ultimately need to be resolved by the Supreme Court.  And as I mention in passing below, it's questionable as to whether even corporate liability in ATCA cases would survive close scrutiny of the Court.  Based on the cases that are out there now (and there are many), it seems unlikely that the issue of the applicability of the ATCA would be ripe for Supreme Court consideration anytime before the 2008-09 Term.

                  •  that's as concise and informative (0+ / 0-)

                    a post on  the state of extra-territorial jursidiction as  is possible I think. I learned a lot and I thank you for taking the time to write it


                    Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

                    by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 02:05:31 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Yes and No (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Magorn, DSPS owl, Chris 47N122W

                Some contractors already have been sued under the ATCA for what they've done in Iraq, most notably Titan Corporation (now known as L-3 Communications) and CACI International for human rights violations occurring at Abu Ghraib.  There are two related lawsuits on this currently pending before Judge James Robertson of the District Court for the District of Columbia:  Ibrhaim v. Titan, et al. (docket no. 04-1248) and Saleh v. Titan, et al. (docket no. 05-1165).

                In the Saleh case, here is the current 66-page complaint, and here is the most recent substantive decision from the court as relates to the corporate defendants.  In both lawsuits, the corporations have motions for summary judgment currently pending (oral argument was held on Nov. 20, 2006).  Judge Robertson had held in an earlier ruling in Ibrahim (described in the opinion linked above) that the ATCA claims could not stand up, patricularly in light of the Supreme Court's 2004 admonitions in Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain.

                What it comes down to right now is that the law is entirely unsettled as to whether and to what degree corporations can be held liable for ATCA claims.  There has yet to be a definitive ruling on this point by the Supreme Court (which had merely stated in Sosa that courts should "more closely examine" the claims), and virtually no circuit court has addressed the issue head-on in a post-Sosa context.

                I hope this clarifies matters a bit.

                •  thanks! (0+ / 0-)

                  Zillion thanks for the update!

                  I'll re-read Machain and add Ibrhaim and Saleh to my list.

                  Have you been involved in these cases or do you just follow them vicariously?

                  •  Not Directly Involved (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    But I work on matters that are tied up to a large degree on these issues, so for several years I've been tracking developments in ATCA cases around the country.  Unfortunately (in this context), there are sufficient potential conflicts with my work that I can only describe matters very generally and have to rely here on purely publicly available information.

                    All I can say is that beyond the cases mentioned here, there are several others already at the appellate stage in the Second and Ninth Circuits awaiting rulings; one or more of these will likely end up before the Supreme Court within the next few years.

            •  Why couldn't you draft a law... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nina Katarina, esquimaux, jfm

              ...that makes it illegal for contractors to violate any of the laws of the United States or the host country when they are on assignment there? Then, if they do, they will have broken that law and could be prosecuted for it, instead of the underlying crime that they committed.

              Bill O'Reilly's Culture Rage
              • O'Reilly's Talking Points ala Colbert's The Word

              by KingOneEye on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:50:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Not the only alternative to "total immunity"... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler

          The Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000 already allowed for the prosecution of contractors but may not be broad enough. Perhaps some tweaking is needed here? Or maybe we have a lazy Justice Department.

          Sorry, but I'm not buying courts martial as better than nothing. If they're civilian citizens, I want 'em tried in a court of law, even if we have to fly 'em home business class.

          •  Here's a question for you though (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            truong son traveler

            Person A is hired by the United states government to serve in its military; given weapons a uniform, fed and housed on Military bases, given orders by the military to accomplish US strategic objectives, sometimes by the use of force and violence.

            Person B, is hired  by a contractor working for the US government, Armed by the same; fed and housed on Military bases, given orders by the military to accomplish US strategic objective, sometimes by the use of force and violence.

            What is the essential difference between A and B that makes one a Soldier and the other a civilian?

            Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

            by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 02:11:59 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Size of their paycheck? n/t (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Magorn, truong son traveler

              My apologies to students who took my U.S. Government class in the 90s: evidently the Constitution doesn't limit Presidential power after all. Who knew?

              by Major Danby on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 04:11:15 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  depends (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                in major danby's answer I would argue that its the size of mental dick that would differentiate them.

                In reality the difference would depend on the body of law applied.

                Curiously, in Bush/Rummy/Cheney-land, person A is a soldier and protected against warrants under the law of war as a legal combatant and person B is an "illegal combatant" -- and will be shipped off to some remote island concentration camp, tortured and  never to be heard from again.

                In the world of international laws of war (Geneva Conventions, Article 5 I think) - a treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory (and therefore binding on the U.S.) - person B's status would be determined to be either a criminal, a civilian non-combatant or prisoner of war. That determination would be made by a "competetent tribunal" formed under the accepted norms of humanitarian law with appropriate due process and dealt with according to that determination.

                Of course Bush/Rummy/Cheney-land is fictional right? Not in a certain little corner of Cuba or some secret prisons in Europe....

  •  Interesting issue (0+ / 0-)

    I know little of the UCMJ.  I guess I always assumed that the military could try anyone operating in a combat zone so long as due process was afforded in accordance with constitutional principles.

    If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. - Cpt. Ian Fishback

    by Rick Oliver on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:43:45 AM PST

    •  Historical Trivia (3+ / 0-)

      Legal or not; All of John Wilkes-Booth's co-consipirators were tried and sentenced by military tribunals not civilian courts.

      Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

      by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:57:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i did not know that! (0+ / 0-)

        tribunals? like gitmo?

        our courts martial like under USCMJ?

        (not the same)

        Also, if you know, were they tried in "occupied" Virginia? (Didn't Boothe end up there after escaping via Maryland?)

        Were Boothe's co-conspirators" Confederate officers or spies?


        •  More like the propsed Gitmo style tribunals (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          truong son traveler

          Following the assasination, the military rounded up hundreds of suspects, most of whom were later released.  However President Andrew Johnson personally ordered the creation of a military tribunal to try 8 assasination conspiracy suspects.  (Booths atack was part of alarger conspiracy to kill Sec of War Seward and VP johnson onthe same night) most of whom were civilians.  What authority he had to do so is still unclear, nonetheless they hung 5 of the 8 charged.  They were:

          Lewis Paine: was charged with conspiracy and the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William Seward. Paine entered Seward's home the night of Lincoln's assassination. He knifed and pistol-whipped 5 people in the house. Luckily, all survived his brutality. Paine was found guilty by the court and was hanged on July 7, 1865.

          David Herold: was charged with conspiracy, guiding Paine to Seward's home, and assisting Booth during his 12 days on the run after the assassination. When Booth and Herold were surrounded in a barn at Garrett's farm in Virginia, Herold gave up. He was found guilty and hanged on July 7, 1865.

          George Atzerodt:
          Atzerodt was charged with conspiring with Booth; his assignment was to kill Vice-President Andrew Johnson. Atzerodt rented a room in the Kirkwood House, the Vice-President's hotel, and directed a series of "suspicious" questions to the hotel's bartender. He made no attempt to kill Johnson. Nevertheless, he was found guilty and hanged on July 7, 1865.

          Mary Surratt:
          Mary Surratt, boardinghouse owner, was charged with conspiring with Booth, "keeping the nest that hatched the egg," and running errands for Booth that facilitated his escape. It was alleged that Booth used her boardinghouse to meet with his coconspirators. Mrs. Surratt was found guilty and was hanged on July 7, 1865.

          Dr. Samuel Mudd:
          Dr. Samuel Mudd was charged with conspiring with Booth and with aiding the semi-crippled assassin during his escape by sheltering him and setting his broken left leg. Mudd was found guilty and sentenced to life. However, he received a pardon from President Andrew Johnson in February of 1869. He returned to his home in Maryland and lived there until his death from pneumonia on January 10th, 1883.

          Samuel Arnold:
          Arnold was charged with being part of Booth's earlier plot to kidnap President Lincoln. He was found guilty and sentenced to life. Like Dr. Mudd, he was pardoned by Andrew Johnson early in 1869. He lived until 1906.

          Michael O'Laughlen:
          Like Arnold, O'Laughlen was charged with conspiracy to kidnap the president. He was found guilty and sentenced to life. He died of yellow fever in prison at Ft. Jefferson on September 23, 1867.

          Edman "Ned" Spangler:
          Spangler was charged with helping Booth escape from Ford's Theatre immediately after the assassination. Spangler was found guilty and sentenced to 6 years. He was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in 1869. He worked for John Ford in Baltimore until 1873. He traveled to Dr. Mudd's home and lived on some land the doctor gave him until his death on February 7, 1875

          Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

          by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:21:52 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  interesting? Interesting? INTERESTING? Dude, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moosely2006, princess of puters

      ... never mind,

      On second's like this: Civilians are civilians, military courts have never been able to put civilians on military trial. It's just not kosher (or legal).  

      Mr Bush's policies for Amerika are quickly being reduced to those of Hitler's for Germany.

      I'm scared SHITLESS.

      "The job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open."- Gunter Grass

      by Sigrid of Horg on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:58:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I take half that back (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ohwilleke, mmacdDE

        Judge Miner describes his defense of a person he believes to be the last civilian tried by court martial. The trial was conducted in Korea in 1958 during Judge Miner’s service as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the United States Army. Although a challenge to the jurisdiction of the court martial was rejected and the civilian defendant convicted of violating a currency regulation, the conviction was set aside for another reason urged attrial—the inadvertent repeal of the at-issue regulation. The Article also includes a review of legal developments that occurred in the aftermath of the trial, including the Supreme Court’s ultimate determination that courts-martial have no jurisdiction over civilians and the passage of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act to allow for prosecution in United States District Courts of civilians employed by or accompanying the Armed Forces overseas.

        "The job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open."- Gunter Grass

        by Sigrid of Horg on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:28:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  wasn't clear on your quote (3+ / 0-)

          so I checked it out.

          The law Judge Miner points to is the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act fo 2000. I don't have time to actually go read the statute, but here's an excerpt from an article at "Legal Times"

          Passed in 2000, the act permits the Justice Department to go into U.S. district courts to prosecute employees of Defense Department contractors and subcontractors who commit crimes on foreign soil. When it approved the law, Congress knew that it is nearly impossible to charge civilians under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, even if they work alongside active-duty service members.

          Experts on military law and government contracts agree that this principle rules out courts-martial for the "contract interrogators" at the center of the furor over the humiliation of Iraqis, particularly at the Abu Ghraib prison 20 miles west of Baghdad. The interrogators reportedly worked for two defense contractors, Arlington, Va.-based CACI International and San Diego-based Titan Corp.
          Other U.S. criminal laws -- including a broad prohibition on torture that took effect in 1994 -- could also play a role in prosecuting civilians. But the 2000 act seems best adapted to the situation in Iraq because it permits civilian prosecutions of persons "employed by or accompanying" U.S. armed forces.

          Still, many say the law is not a perfect fit.

          "The law was passed to fill a void," says Michael Nardotti Jr., a partner at Patton Boggs who was the judge advocate general of the Army from 1993 to 1997. "And it does so. But it requires an offense like a serious assault. What if it's a simple assault, which may be punishable under federal law only by six months in prison?"

          read the whole article here

          Not sure why we need ANOTHER law to exert jurisdiction over these creeps.

          •  Thanks - in English, does that apply to civilians (0+ / 0-)

            on US soil?

            "The job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open."- Gunter Grass

            by Sigrid of Horg on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:20:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  if on US Soil (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Major Danby, Sigrid of Horg

              we can prosecute on criminal or civil basis regardless.

              If they are inside the U.S. we don't care if they are civilian contractors or monkeys. They are on US territory - they are subject to U.S. courts.

              The problem only arises when contractors are OUTSIDE U.S. geographic reach and the U.S. wants to apply some U.S. law to them.

              I would make the argument (under international law) that our status as occupiers in Iraq gives us jurisdiction over civilian contractors but I don't know if that would hold up. It might also apply to reporters, NGO workers etc.

              I believe this is the basis that Israel uses to "administer" West Bank and Gaza. Their's is a complex amalgamation of "administrative" bodies and military authorities. I believe this is also the model for Gitmo -- not U.S. soil so we can make up our own rules.

              •  Inside the U.S. the question would be (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Rick Oliver

                whether the contractors were serving with U.S. forces in a war.

                Historically, civilians with U.S. troops in bases where the military is not engaged in war fighting (e.g. German military hospitals) have not been within the scope of UCMJ jurisdiction.

                The same distinction has historically applied to U.S. bases, even when we are at war abroad.

                Could a broad War on Terror interpretion reach a different result?  Perhaps.

                "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

                by ohwilleke on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:33:30 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not to change the subject.... and (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  thank you both for your anwsers.....

                  BUT AP: Iran Gets Army Gear in Pentagon Sale

                  WASHINGTON — The U.S. military has sold forbidden equipment at least a half-dozen times to middlemen for countries including Iran and China who exploited security flaws in the Defense Department's surplus auctions. The sales include fighter jet parts and missile components.

                  In one case, federal investigators said, the contraband made it to Iran, a country President Bush branded part of an "axis of evil."

                  In that instance, a Pakistani arms broker convicted of exporting U.S. missile parts to Iran resumed business after his release from prison. He purchased Chinook helicopter engine parts for Iran from a U.S. company that had bought them in a Pentagon surplus sale. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, speaking on condition of anonymity, say those parts made it to Iran.

                  ???????????? Normal biz, right??????

                  "The job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open."- Gunter Grass

                  by Sigrid of Horg on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:09:41 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  One wonders if the money from surplus sales (0+ / 0-)

                    justifies the risk when goods that can't be easily obtained elsewhere and are not allowed to be distributed to non-allies are involved.

                    I sympathize with those conducting the sale.  It isn't as if they turned a bill of sale over to Iran itself, and there are scads of prospective U.S. buyers of military surplus goods.  Doing background checks with 100% success in the face of deliberate illegal actions to act as middle men is hard.

                    But, maybe we need to limit things like sales of jet spare parts to companies like Boeing and Northrup Grumman and a handful of sellers that produce such equipment and have the regulatory compliance structure they need in place, or maybe we'd be better just destroying that stuff or melting it down for scrap.

                    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

                    by ohwilleke on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:42:13 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

        •  I thought there was precedent for it. (0+ / 0-)

          That helps clear it up.  Thanks.

          If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. - Cpt. Ian Fishback

          by Rick Oliver on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:35:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  UCMJ does provide (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rick Oliver

      for some jurisdiction over captured enemies who commit war crimes.  And, the Military Commission Act of 2006 fleshes out this kind of jurisdiction.  But, this leaves unredressed a multitude of sins.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

      by ohwilleke on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:05:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  a spending bill? (4+ / 0-)

    out of Congress?

    Um where are the Democrats? Why aren't they stopping this?

    "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

    by michael1104 on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:43:50 AM PST

  •'s the bush way. (0+ / 0-)

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:44:32 AM PST

  •  one more for the list (7+ / 0-)

    spying on americans
    repeal of habeus corpus
    illegal war
    ignoring Katrina
    tax breaks for big oil
    no bid contracts to rebuild Iraq
    signing statements
    opening mail

    sending american citizens to gitmo

  •  courtmartial deals with (3+ / 0-)

    loss of rank (in addition to the other stuff).

    How exactly do you have rank taken away from you when you don't have one?

    "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

    by kredwyn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:46:32 AM PST

  •  Hmm... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weasel, moosely2006, jfm

    that one gets really nasty.  If the contractors are there as part of the military (CACI analysts, Blackwater, etc.), I could almost see this.  But that would also require some tightening of the statutes to do this right I would think.

    Unfortunately, there's also slippery slopes and such to consider.  With an admin that is into very aggressive interpretation of their powers, this would probably lead to courts-martial on US soil.

  •  Holding mercs accountable (11+ / 0-)

    Is a worthy goal.

    So let's just make certain it's not being abused by attacking reporters for telling the truth.

    •  What? Holding mercs accountable? (6+ / 0-)

      I'd be happy to see many instances of that happening under thiis administration.

      This BushCo maneuver strikes me as just another way to muzzle--or worse--whistleblowers, be they current or former mercenaries, reporters, or any number of employees of current contractors in Iraq.

      A brief look at this administration's track record  thus far regarding contrasting treatment of independent contractors, as opposed to journalists and other whistleblowers, should indicate the real motivation behind this further power grab.

      •  Accountability??? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eaglecries, moosely2006, jfm, Rob Cole

        Hell, I see this thing the exact opposite.  

        Putting this language into this bill was the GOP way of making sure that these folks NEVER get prosecuted for anything.

        Defendants can deflect potential criminal charges by arguing that the proper remedy is court-martial, knowing damn well that, the decision about whether or not to court-martial is going to receive far less scrutiny and will be subject to political influence.  

        This Administration will make damn sure that the cronies that it's contracted with are not going to be charged.  That's the point of the bill.  They figure they can control that decision more effectively and with less publicity and accountability in the military system than in the courts.

        "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." Steven Wright

        by gsbadj on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:17:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)

      Until now, these Blackwater Bastards and others were beholden to no one for their actions. This is a step in the right direction.

    •  Well.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, jfm

      It's not really in the military's best interest to hold any contractors accountable, after all, where are they going to work after they retire from the military? Face it, there's virtually no competition among these companies, they are largely comprised of ex-military so there's virtually no way to hold them accountable or to stop them from robbing the government at every chance they get. Well, you could just stop having wars...but who wants that?

  •  I am now officially (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    going to be in a state of denial. I mean it isn't possible to arrest all of us right?

    •  9 million (0+ / 0-)

      ghosts in europe that passed through Nazi concentration camps would beg to differ with that opinion....

      not to mention a few residents of Russian gulags....

      let denial be the watchword at the Whitehouse, not here.

      •  revisiting diary on US Concentration Camps (0+ / 0-)

        I don't know about you, but this diary puts that one back in the spotlight. So I did some further digging about the PRIVITIZATION of our criminal systems - most about the new jails and dentention centers being build by Corrections Corporation Of America. Business is booming and so is their stock price. They are the same firm that are holding families in Texas where conditions are said to be deplorable. The worst part - their key investor is NTI - Nextel Holdings - whom Forbes rates as one of the best run companies in the world. WHAT IS HAPPENING? DON'T THESE PEOPLE GET WHY THEY ARE ON A GROWTH SURGE? Goes to this diary

  •  This slope is getting so slippery... (5+ / 0-)

    I doubt we can even stand upright on it anymore.  By the time the public wakes up, it will probably be too late.

    That [the right-wing is] always wrong is a feature, not a bug. - Kos

    by RichM on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:47:21 AM PST

  •  amazing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eaglecries, ActivistGuy, moosely2006

    and they like to say the USSR lost the Cold War when in fact, Bush/Cheney and Co never stop imitating them.  Time to reread 'Origins of Totalitarianism'

  •  What Happened (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DMiller, mrbubs

    What happened to the child rapists from Abu Ghraib?  Any attempts to bring them to justice?

    I recommended your comment. And then I un-recommended it.

    by bink on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:47:35 AM PST

  •  can someone explain this to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princess of puters

    I thought the private contractors were essentially mercenaries that were not connected to military law and one of the problems with this was that you had Americans with weapons who didn't have to follow the ROE.

    So if they are finally being regulated, fine. I don't agree with this measure, but something should be done.

    But the reporters? How'd they get lumped into this?

    Politics is the deliberation of one's moral enterprise.

    by Omen on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:47:54 AM PST

    •  Sure (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The whole purpose of this was to get some control over contractors.  Too many of them view Iraq as the Wild, Wild West.  I know that at one point, the Marines got in a firefight with a group of contractors because they were just shooting at anyone.

      As far as reporters, I don't know.

    •  because the definition they used (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      to Bring the contractors under the UCMJ was "civllians acting at the behest of the military or participating in military operations"

      Which was MEANT to include contactors but also tecnically applies to say, embedded reporters.

      Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

      by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:08:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Holding contractors and other civilian (11+ / 0-)

    employees accountable is fine -- but what is it about civil or criminal law that makes that impossible?

    I think this bill is patently unconstitutional. My guess is that it's really intended to apply to "security contractors" who may be armed.  But it's still unconstitutional.  Period.

    How do you ask someone to be the last man or woman to die for a president's ego?

    by litigatormom on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:48:47 AM PST

    •  It's only unconstitutional... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DMiller, MO Blue, Hypnosis 101

      If SCOTUS sez it is.

      That [the right-wing is] always wrong is a feature, not a bug. - Kos

      by RichM on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:50:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Is this your interpretation (which I like) or (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ActivistGuy, jfm, princess of puters

      is the SCOTUS likely to go along with the legislation?  This court worries me enormously.  I'm sure that all Bush appointees claim to interpret the Constitution "strictly."  Usually this means that they go along with wingnut positions, as far as I can tell.

    •  My question, also (0+ / 0-)

      Holding contractors and other civilian employees accountable is fine - but what is it about civil or criminal law that makes that impossible?

      That's what I don't get. What makes them outside of the law? However, if there is a loophole, trust this (that!) Congress to exploit it.

      John McCain supports escalating the occupation.

      by Denny in Seattle on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:52:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  also, does it define "war zone" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mmacdDE, AshleyinUT, jfm

        considering bushco regularly calls the US a country at war this could reach far beyond contractors in Iraq

        blue dyed in the wool, and proud of it

        by princess of puters on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:56:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Here's a question (3+ / 0-)

        A mercenary kills an Iraqi grandmother in Ramadi.  The  mercenary is South African, a former member of the apartheid regime's commandos, and works for a British-based "security contracting" corporation operating in Iraq under a contract with the Pentagon.  Under what nation's civil and criminal law could the mercenary be prosecuted?

        •  Right Now? (5+ / 0-)

          None. And that's the Point. I can dig up my archive for the details but I diared just such a case last year with a US citizen who raped and killed a 12 year old boy in Afghanistan, but was legally immune from prosecution in NC (his employer's home state) at either the federal or state level.

          Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

          by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:11:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  don't think that's right (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Magorn, jfm

            depends on his passport and perhaps on whether he is an "agent" of a british company. As a South African, I'm not sure what his relationship to British sovereignty is (commonwealth country).

            It's quite possible he could be dragged into the EU court of Human Rights.

            The ICC or potentially a British court might also exert jurisdiction.

            ICC requires that jurisdiction be asserted by the nation against whom the crime is committed OR by the nation of which he is a citizen and failing that, he can be dragged into ICC if one of those is a member (Britain is).

            Its possible that he could be prosecuted as a Brit and I don't know if South Africa is signatory to ICC.

            U.S. is different set of game rules.

        •  Excellent point (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ActivistGuy, jfm

          I would have assumed this contractor, and the one mentioned below, would be eligible to be prosecuted by Iraqi laws. I guess that's a stupid assumption in today's Iraq. I have no idea what the legal answer is, but if that's the loophole they were filling, that's of tremendous value, obviously. I want to check out the language of the provision. Why was it placed in a spending bill? If the need was there, and there were no malicious intentions, why wasn't it handled more openly? Was there no time? I want to look around a bit. Thanks for the input, it's too easy to assume the worst, as it's so often the truth with this crew.  

          John McCain supports escalating the occupation.

          by Denny in Seattle on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:27:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Iraq's (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          That's where the crime occurred, that's who would have jurisdiction.

          You wouldn't even ask that question if the exact same thing happened in France, or South Africa, or even China.

          You commit a crime only when you break THAT COUNTRY'S laws. If you go someplace where marijuana is legal, you don't get prosecuted HERE for smoking pot THERE.

          Even as a military dependent, working for a military contractor, when we were stationed in England, if I broke English law, I'd be tried in British courts.

          I imagine it can be a bit trickier if a crime is committed on a military base or at an embassy, but we're not talking about that. We're talking about crimes that are committed on foreign soil by Americans (or non-Americans) - and I would think those would logically fall under the jurisdiction of that country.

          •  sorry (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            for this hypothetical I left out Iraq as a possible (and perhaps most appropriate) sovereign.

            see my post above on that issue. heads tearing off and whatnot. Most humane no?

            But under Iraqi "justice system" such sentences pass muster how under the Constitution? (not cruel?) Geneva (not degrading? not death?) or Just not at all!

          •  Aren't US forces and operations exempted (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            from prosecustion by the Iraqis?  Isn't that a condition of US operations there?

            •  For now (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              but the Iraqis could always request a change in the Status of Forces agreement.

              They're a sovereign nation, that's their perogative. If they want to change it, and we don't want to agree, they're well within their rights to tell us to get out.

              I don't know of any place that troops are stationed that doesn't have a Status of Forces agreement, and it's not uncommon for crimes committed there to be tried in their courts - even if you're active duty military.

              As a matter of fact, it often leads to some real nasty situations if the troops AREN'T tried in the local courts.

  •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't know enough yet, but initially, I'm not opposed to this.  So far, the "contractors" in Iraq have been under no law.  They are protected from Iraqi law, but US law does not apply.  So putting them under courts martial authority seems like a step forward.  Additionally, this is a step toward making them members of the military, which I think is a good thing.  If people are paid by our government to run around Iraq with guns, they should be considered military.  So too should the Haliburton "support staff" at the bases.

    This law is not perfect, but I'm not sure if the solution is opposition or modification.

  •  "Here that whistleblowers?"? (0+ / 0-)

    Don't you mean "hear"?

  •  I think you are barking up the wrong tree here (7+ / 0-)

    Yes this COULD be used against reporters;  and that's A bad thing.  I know better than most how laws with slippery slopes can be misued.  However, this law is also adressing a HUGE whole in our legal system that has been letting American Citiziens commit rape, torture and murder in Iraq and Afghanistan with complete legal impunity.  

    Nor is this a hypothetical situation.  I've blogged a few such cases so far where CACI and other civilian personnel contracted by the CIA to work as interrogators, have done absolutely horrifc things (including the forcible sodomy and murder of a 12 year old boy)  for which there is no legal recourse except being fired by the contractor.

    This is because while serving overseas they are not subject to the criminal law of the United States. Further, since they are not soldiers they may not be tried under the UCMJ (even though they live in military bases and do the bidding of the military).   Finally they cannot be tried by the local civil authority because in Afghanistan there basically isn't one and in Iraq; one of Bremer's last acts as "pro-consul" was to sign a law exempting american citizens fromt he jurisdiction of Iraqi courts.

    so yes if this law needs to be amended to specifically exclude journalists etc then by all means do it.  But lets not return to the system of having a selct class of americans who were effectively beyond the reach of any and all laws.

    Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

    by Magorn on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:53:46 AM PST

  •  Mercenary Contractors (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Magorn, DMiller, my homeo

    At least we can start holding mercenary contractors in Iraq to the same standard that we hold are actual armed forces.

    Very concerned about the reporter aspect of this, but anyone carrying a gun in Iraq on behalf of the US Military should be treated as such, even if taxpayers are paying 50x as much for them.

    •  Of course this assumes (4+ / 0-)

      that the problem will actually be dealt with.  

      To the extent that this admin deals with it, I'm sure they'll deal with "a few bad apples" in the Lindy England style. They will ignore the sytemic corruption of the entire corporate culture that has been created in Iraq, from the top down.

      Economic Left/Right: -7.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.31

      by DMiller on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:00:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The blanket immunity for contractors (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alumbrados, Magorn, ActivistGuy

    interesting... In addition to the constitutional
    questions, I'm not sure this makes a whit of
    difference. IIRC, Bush gave contractors in Iraq
    a blanket immunity from prosection in the first days
    of the war...

    To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all -Goethe

    by commonscribe on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:55:19 AM PST

  •  I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    won't discuss the merits (or lack there of) of this new bill.

    I have to say though, you should remove the comma between "Lindsay Graham" and "says one thing."  

    I'm not always so quick on the uptake, but that one confused me.  I was hoping the bill was for permission to prosecute Graham.

  •  holy shit. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eugene, princess of puters

    this is so fucking unconstitutional and backhanded and horrible that it makes me want to scream.

    Thanks as always for keeping us informed, DT.

  •  The Law 'n' Order party (3+ / 0-)

    sure doesn't mind breaking laws.

    What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell

    by RequestedUsername on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 08:58:39 AM PST

  •  Pretty frightening (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princess of puters

    We have a hard enough time getting the press to provide full, unbiased coverage without involving the possibility of a court martial. Wouldn't it be great, though, if this pissed the reporters off enough to buck the administration even more? Reporters in a war zone are pretty ballsy.

    I've finally started enjoying the news again. It's far, far from perfect, but it's a universe from where it was a year ago. I'd hate to lose it so soon.

    John McCain supports escalating the occupation.

    by Denny in Seattle on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:00:27 AM PST

  •  Sooooo can someone corroborate this? (3+ / 0-)

    Curious, can someone provide a bill # or a link from any news outlets that (dare I say any are) credible?  Or do you have any wording from the bill that would allow this to happen?  I'm curious why this isn't a bigger deal in the "real" news (you know the blogs and international news).

    And has this bill already passed, or is it still to be voted on?

    I think the bigger issue really is the fact that we have all these unrelated issues being forced into bills.  I believe in ONE BILL, ONE ISSUE.  If the pork barrel issues cannot stand on their own merits, why are we allowing them to be stuck in as a poison pill (such as the death tax was a few months back)?  I think it's pretty simple, and would 100% cut back on the pork and corporate influence over our government.  One issue, one bill.  If you want to put these poison pills in a bill, then do it on it's own and see how far it goes (obviously it wouldn't go anywhere).  

    •  What's a 'federal provision'? (0+ / 0-)

      ...military courts-martial under a new federal provision...

      Is it a bill, an executive order, what?

      The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

      by DSPS owl on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:21:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  read the article (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DSPS owl

        at the link in the original post.

        the second paragraph reads:

        The provision, which was slipped into a spending bill at the end of the last Congress, is intended to close a long-standing loophole that critics say puts contractors in war zones above the law. But the provision also could affect others in the field, including civilian government employees and embedded journalists.

        emphasis mine.

        that means its a BILL -- not yet passed therefore not yet law.

        I believe that since it didn't make it in the last congress, it has to be re-introduced into the current congress i.e. back through the whole committee hearing process etc. Don't think its likely to make it through a Democratic Judiciary Committee.

        Thus our discussion is a bit of a storm in a teacup. Not that we shouldn't remain ever vigilant -- just not become vigilantes over it.

  •  A very disturbing post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princess of puters

    Even for the GOP, the party of intolerance (of constitutional rights and of individual differences) and the party of hate that keeps sinking to new lows, this is a doozy of a bill.  It's left me almost speechless, except to ask, when is the nation going to physically stop working at their jobs, go to Washington DC, and by the millions demand that the current government start acting like a democratic (small "d") government?  When?!

  •  It will get tossed out by the courts (0+ / 0-)

    as it always does.

    ... we now know a lot of things, most of which, we already knew... (-dash888)

    by Tirge Caps on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:05:37 AM PST

    •  yes, but... (0+ / 0-) many civilians will sit locked up somewhere in legal limbo until it does?  

      •  They'd be there anyway (0+ / 0-)

        and not because of this.

        This has come up several times in US history and it always gets thrown out.

        Also, it has been brought up by both sides in the past... it has a wider orbit than flag-burning and gay marriage, but it does come around and it gets knocked down.

        ... we now know a lot of things, most of which, we already knew... (-dash888)

        by Tirge Caps on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:57:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not obvious that it is unconstitutional. (0+ / 0-)

      There are many traditional protections of liberty in U.S. law which are so universal and long standing that they are often assumed to be of constitutional stature, but, in fact are not.

      There is no constitutional right to a criminal appeal in the United States (although if one is provided, it must meet certain standards and habeas corpus review must be provided).

      The Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the military to enforce domestic law is not a constitutional requirement.

      Almost every state affords criminal defendants a right a jury trial in all criminal cases, but the constitution requires it of states only in serious misdemeanor and felony casees.

      Every state provides state habeas corpus proceedings, but it isn't clear that the constitution requires this.

      Moreover, since a UCMJ proceedings provides for ultimate review by a civilian Article III court, albeit only if the defendant exposes himself to the risk of a harsh sentence by demanding the most serious kind of court martial, this wouldn't necessarily be seen as ultimately divesting the civilian from civilian court jurisdiction.  Tax court and administrative law courts similarly leave only appellate Article III court jurisdiction and have been held constitutional none the less.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

      by ohwilleke on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:14:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's been tossed out in every form every time (0+ / 0-)

        it's been attempted to put civilians under the UCMJ.

        ... we now know a lot of things, most of which, we already knew... (-dash888)

        by Tirge Caps on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:05:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't have the time to dig it all up (0+ / 0-)

        but I went through this last summer for a bit and each time it hit the SC it was thrown out.

        Besides, MEJA was updated to include contractors under DOD operations, so pushing the UCMJ is really a distraction. It should be expanded to cover State and other department operations.

        This can all be excercised under MEJA without including journalists and other non-operation related civilians.

        ... we now know a lot of things, most of which, we already knew... (-dash888)

        by Tirge Caps on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:08:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Could be, I've not seen the cases and would be (0+ / 0-)

          interestsed in knowing the reasoning involved.

          If the concern were ultimate access to Article III courts, or minimum due process rights, or lack of Congressional authorization, those cases might not apply.  If the concern were separation of powers oriented, they might very well still apply (although in the case of people who are deploying with U.S. military units in a war zone in Iraq, I'd look closely at precedents to see if they really applied).

          "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

          by ohwilleke on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:44:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  And this is why I don't like Barack Obama (4+ / 0-)

    Obama's attention is on the changing the negativity and divisivness in politics, while the Right continues to wage daily negative attacks on Democrats and liberals.

    Furthermore, this diary demonstrates what the Right does when it is in power.

    So, why would any Democrat want to mend fences with people who don't want to mend fences?

    I want a Democratic standardbearer who is going to take the fight to the Right! F*&k making friends! To hell with comity! We need to roll back their agenda and push ours forward.

    •  Exactly. (4+ / 0-)

      Obama assumes that if we play all nice, they will reciprocate.  Sorry, Barak, it don't work that way any more.  Not with Capitol Hill Republicans (or those in the Executive Branch, for that matter).


      We're working on many levels here. Ken Kesey

      by BenGoshi on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:14:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  RIGHT ON BROTHER!!! (0+ / 0-)

      No shit sherlock!! Obama wants to play kiss face with Fascists?? I didn't know this. Fuck that Bullshit! I think Edwards right now can fill the bill. He's got a great personality but he's a helluva trial lawyer. Let him make our case to the public. I'd prefer Gore but he's had it at this pt.

      "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees" E. Zapata

      by Blutodog on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:18:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  edwards has yet to speak (0+ / 0-)

        his opinion of unitary doctrine or specific legislation to operationalize unitary docrine.

        he's still into HH economics. let's suggest he doesn't get comfortable too there.

        Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

        by MarketTrustee on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:06:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unitary presidency u mean? (0+ / 0-)

          Have any of the candidates addressed that issue? Any of them that don't believe it's BS won't get my vote that's for friggin sure. we don't need another KING after W.

          "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees" E. Zapata

          by Blutodog on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:08:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  uh, when i speak of the current president (0+ / 0-)

            i often say and always mean, the "unitary asshole".

            the unitary asshole, of course, is not the author of the doctrine, merely the poster-asshole from which its drivel drips. for this reason, i graciously make the distinction between the idea and authors, the executor, and congress.

            that would be the assembly of cartoon characters (by and large) who "operationalize unitary doctrine" in such stunning relief as exhibited by the monumental the US patriot act (twice!) and the military commisions act.

            now, i can't say any candidate has addressed the "unitary doctrine" explicitly, although this doctrine along with the "preemptive doctrine" has been committed to paper and digital media numerous times by administration officials. and i do wonder how conyers got pulled off track to run the unitary asshole to ground.

            all of this troubles me deeply, considering that some kossacks are counting on the dem president-elect of '09 to reverse the course of history.


            Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

            by MarketTrustee on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 03:45:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Completely agree about Obama (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joshua Lyman

      I take issue with him not trying to be divisive or offend people.  Well news flash, if something is "right", and you stand up for that and are very vocal, it's not called being "devisive" it's called taking a stand.  And this is why I would never vote for Obama.  I think he's a very good politician, but he just seems to willing to cave on the hot button issues and try to find middle ground.  I'm sorry but when the choice is between right and wrong, there is no middle ground.

    •  "The Right" != "The Unitary Presidency Supporters (0+ / 0-)

      Hey now.  I have never heard Sen. Obama speak as if he supported Executive decisions simply because they were Executive decisions.  In fact, I would say that the trends in his state & national voting records indicate the opposite.

      Therefore, when he says, "the right," based on the evidence that his stated opinions and votes provide, I feel like the only logical assumption to make is that he's simply thinking about the ideologies they've historically been better-known for promoting (and which they nowadays once again have in common with each other than they do this "unitary" doctrine).

      In other words, I don't think he's TALKING about compromising his beliefs on "unitary executive government" because some of the people he's compromising with on other issues happen to believe in it.

      His actions say, "I'm going to cosponsor and push a pro-contraception-and-safe-sex-education bill so that we won't even need abortion bills to come up--and then everybody, pro-choicers and pro-lifers, can be happier and we can put that question aside for a while."

      His actions do NOT say, "I'm going to give the executive inordinate amounts of power even though I don't think that's right simply because it's halfway in between what I want and what more extreme executive-power-advocates want."

  •  This is why (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Blutodog, tipsymcstagger

    Republicans should be shut out of the legislative process as much as possible.

  •  Who's going to notice when Cheney has (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Bush sign a Nat Security Directive declaring Denver a war zone?

    17. Ne5

    In chess you may hit a man when he's down -- Irving Chernev, on Przepiorka v. Prokes, Budapest, 1929

    by Spud1 on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:11:18 AM PST

  •  does this work both ways? (2+ / 0-)

    does this mean the civilian <cough> leadership that lied ooops I mean took us into war can also be tried in a military court?  if so HOW do we go about getting Bushco courtmartialed?

    "if all the world's a stage, who is sitting in the audience?"

    by KnotIookin on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:13:37 AM PST

  •  It should state... (0+ / 0-)

    ...not just Americans in a warzone, it should be Americans functioning as agents of the American Government In a War Zone.

    It's a good idea to tamp down on Mercenaries (though they aren't actually mercenaries) but this execution blows.

    There's something attractive about invincible ignorance... for the first 5 seconds.

    by MNPundit on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:13:46 AM PST

  •  Not ironic at all (0+ / 0-)

    "The right" not supporting "rights" is not ironic - just a sematic coincindence (no pun intended).

    Imperial "Republicans" pretending to support a "republican" form of government,now that's ironic.

  •  how many mercs to reporters accidently killed (0+ / 0-)

    by the US In Iraq? Just askin

    have we hit bottom yet?

    by eddienic on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:20:08 AM PST

  •  I don't see any way... (0+ / 0-)

    ...this can be legal.

    But legality hasn't stopped the Bush administration from doing anything else it wanted to.

    Commander Jeff Huber, US Navy (Retired) is a freelance writer in Virginia, USA.

    by Jeff Huber on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:20:09 AM PST

  •  Some clarity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ohwilleke, Chris 47N122W

    It’s all in the framing, apparently. When this first came to light, it was like hooray!  Military contractors can finally be prosecuted for abuses!

    Now that someone has argued the statute might apply to civilians, I guess the sky is falling, and it’s an evil plot by Bushco. I prefer to see it as a great idea that might need a little tweak to close a loophole, frankly.

    First, let’s be clear on what the law actually says. Article 2(a) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice lists the persons that military law applies to, including troops, reservists, POWs, and so forth. Section 10 of that statute used to say:

    (10) In time of war, persons serving with or accompanying an armed force in the field.

    and it was changed to:

    (10) In time of declared war or a contingency operation, persons serving with or accompanying an armed force in the field.

    That's ALL that was changed.

    In other words, whatever theoretical problems now exist with reporters being court-martialed or whatever, those problems were already part of the law. It’s just that the law only took effect during a declared war, and we don’t seem to declare wars any more.

    Before this latest change to the law, there was no effective way to do anything about contractors who commit crimes.  In theory, they can be prosecuted stateside under civilian law; in practice, no U.S. Attorney is ever going to go to the trouble of conducting an investigation over in a war zone to be able to file charges.  Now it’s been made clear that if you’re one of the contractors that gets to do a soldier’s job for triple the pay, guess what, you’re going to have to face the same accountability mechanism as that soldier.

    Defense Tech has some thoughts on the issue of reporters:

       On the opposite side, what about civilians who have agreed to be embedded, but not contracted? The Iraq war is the first that journalists could formally embed in units, so there is not much experience with its legal side in contingency operations. The lack of any legal precedent, combined with the new law, could mean that an overly aggressive interpretation might now also include journalists who have embedded.

       Given that journalists are not armed, not contracted (so not paid directly or indirectly from public monies) and most important, not there to serve the mission objectives, this would probably be too extensive an interpretation. It would also likely mean less embeds. But given the current lack of satisfaction with the embed program in the media, any effect here may be a tempest in a tea pot. As of Fall 2006, there were only nine embedded reporters in all of Iraq. Of the nine, four were from military media (three from Stars and Stripes, one from Armed Forces Network), two not even with US units (one Polish radio reporter with Polish troops, one Italian reporter with Italian troops), and one was an American writing a book. Moreover, we should remember that embeds already make a rights tradeoff when they agree to the military’s reporting rules. That is, they have already given up some of their 1st Amendment protections (something at the heart of their professional ethic) in exchange for access, so agreeing to potentially fall under UCMJ when deployed may not be a deal breaker.

    I confess, I don't know much about the constitutional issue of trying civilians in military courts.  But I'd just point out that the old version of the law, where civilians accompanying an armed force in the field during wartime were subject to military law, was around for a while and the Supreme Court doesn't seem to have minded.

    •  Given that language (0+ / 0-)

      embedded reporters might be subject to this, I agree, but it isn't clear that non-embedded reporters would be.

      Applying the UCMJ to embedded reporters wouldn't necessarily be horrible either.  A reporter who, for example, defies an order from the commanding officer of the unit with which he is embedded not to reveal the unit's location could very plausible put the lives of everyone in the unit at risk, and even provisions aimed at unit cohesion (like adultery) could be more of a problem with an embedded reporter than an independent reporter.

      On the other hand, it isn't clear that an American contractor not formally affiliated with the U.S. forces, say, American security guards with automatic weapons and military gear for a non-profit hospital in Baghdad, would come within this UCMJ provision, as they aren't clearly serving with or accompanying U.S. armed forces in the field.

      "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

      by ohwilleke on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:19:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Military Contractors are Wartime Employees of US (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Devilstower, captbobalou

    I'm sorry, but this is ridiculous.  Have any of you watched 'Iraq for Sale'?  Of course, journalists should not be subject to military justice.  But these contractors are a privatized extension of the US Military, make quite a windfall for their time served, and are better armed and better-armored than our actual enlisted troops.

    But the best reason for this law?  There is currently NO LAW, foreign or domestic, that applies to actions of contractors -- non-military civilian wartime employees -- in Iraq.  They can rape, kill, etc, with absolute impunity -- no accountability.  The actions of KBR, Blackwater, etc., have had a great deal to do with our failure to 'win the hearts and minds' of the Iraqi people in this hapless war.

    So, yes.  Exempt reporters.  But military courts seem fine to me for holding these contractors -- who, quite frankly, shouldn't exist in the first place; their jobs should be done by the Army Corps of Engineers -- accountable.

    •  'cuse me (0+ / 0-)

      what's stopping the US gubment, DOJ, from prosecuting fraud as investigated by GAO?

      it's not for want of pre-existing regs, law, or civilian jurisdiction.

      Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

      by MarketTrustee on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:01:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh lets see... (0+ / 0-)

        Jurisdiction: What part of the U.S. Court system covers Baghdad?

        Jury selection: Hmmm....

        Preservation of evidence in a war zone:  Have fun.

        Then there's the staffing issue: what civilian court staff are going to accept the assignment of operating a court in war zone?

        The options in this situation are either that since they are US military contractors, they answer to the same rules as US military personnel, OR, the US agrees to hand over violators to local courts (don't hold your breath).

        I'm pretty sure the languate refers specifically to military contractors, and their civilian employees, and not private businesses or citizens there for other purposes (e.g. reporters, NGO staff, etc).

        •  uh huh (0+ / 0-)
          • evidence: invoices -- united states DoD payable
          • jurisdiction: USA, represented by the Coalition Provisional Authority in iraq, dissolved 2004

          here's the CPA dead zone of pdf documentation concerning business history.

          btw, military contractors, e.g. lockheed, bearing point, halliburton, bechtel, blackwater, ARE US civilian entities. if material evidence is classified, that's a serious problem needing remedy in another venue by the US congress who has let the unitary asshole dictate indiscriminately what is FOIA, what is proscribed by DOJ attys, and what is DOD GAAP.

          Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

          by MarketTrustee on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 05:53:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I don't get it (0+ / 0-)

    If reporters aren't assisting the terrorists in their nefarious plans to destroy the United States and impregnate the womenfolk with their evil Muslim seed, then they really have nothing to fear from a military court-martial. What could possibly go wrong?

  •  Accusing them of targeting reporters, (0+ / 0-)

    by the way, is overstating your case.  Contractors really do need to be reined in.  Don't demonize Congress for overlooking the fact that reporters could be placed in the same category. I sincerely doubt that  anyone intended for reporters to be held under the UCMJ. Until we have a quote, leaked memo, or other proof that it was intentional, this is a damned stupid angle to take on this story.

  •  Global Martial Law (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This fascist Republican bill will first be used for fake military "courts" to hear cases about war profiteers like Halliburton, then find them not guilty/liable. Surely the Republican doubledealers will use our "double jeopardy" laws to exclude civilian courts from even hearing the cases (and exposing evidence to shareholders and citizens), let alone administering justice.

    The larger footprint of Bushian "Military Tribunals" will be global martial law. When the CIA kidnaps people in other jurisdictions in the "Global Terror War", the government will judge all details in secret, according to military rules. Contradicting the universal scope of the Constitution, and in defiance of foreigners' own laws. The ramp up will be in all the "combat zones" in which the US military projects its force. First in anarchies like Iraq, then in "enemy territory" like behind Iranian/Syrian lines.

    Probably it will be validated by fellow fascist governments like Israel A set up where US courts martial will claim exclusive jurisdiction in "disputed territories" or "occupied territories" like Palestine. Israel's manipulative vassal government will happily wash its hands of legal responsibility for further killings and crimes there. Look for more precedent in failing states with American fingerprints on the ruins like Somalia and Haiti, as well as lawless zones in Columbia, and "bandit" control when "partnering" with our Terror War allies to control their local "insurgents".

    There's a thousand ways to abuse this new legal regime. It is the fascist global police regime to underwrite fascist globalism. It must be stopped. And its sponsors, like military lawyer/judge and Republican presidential candidate Lindsay Graham, must be exposed as tyrannical global warmongers who think the Constitution is quaint, and all justice, like all power, comes from the barrel of a gun.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:38:29 AM PST

  •  Ok, so we know we're in full dictatorship. (0+ / 0-)

    The question is, what will each of us members of this blog do next?

    "That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn--or be forced--to accept." Impeachment for treason is an American value.

    by Enough Talk Lets Get Busy on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:40:43 AM PST

  •  the lower 48 is a war zone (0+ / 0-)

    and everywhere else in the world too.  that's the problem with this ruling; the administration views everywhere as a 'zone' in the 'war on terror'.  therefore, wherever you are, you could be tried in a court-martial...

  •  martial law 21st century style (0+ / 0-)

    duh. the civil judicial system is dead! long live homeland security!

    when the time comes, let's see how many civilian's can afford an atty on a $20K salary.

    oh wait ...

    Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

    by MarketTrustee on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 09:57:54 AM PST

  •  Please, let's not deny the problem led to this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    American security contractors (aka mercenaries) have largely been above the law in Iraq.  The have killed and abused Iraqis with impunity.  

    The Iraqi government, while perhaps theoretically having jurisdiction over them, has lacked the practical ability to do anything about it.

    The U.S. military has felt, accurately, that it could not impose military justice on these contractors, although it has probably been incorrect that it lacked authority in its general capacity as the de facto military of Iraq to enforce the law against them just as they have in the case of Iraqis.

    There are good reasons to say that the UCMJ is the wrong solution, just as the President's kangaroo court military tribunals were the wrong solution to dealing with detainees who have committed war crimes or terrorist acts.  The absurdity of applying UCMJ substantive law provisions unique to the military, like disrespect of an officer, or adultery, to civilians, in particular illustrates the shortcoming of this law, although there is some precedent (under state law provisions making every adult male under arms a member of the disorganized militia) for applying military justice to armed security contractors who are Americans abroad.

    The traditional manner of metting out civil justice to Americans abroad has been to hold civilian court proceedings convened by the ambassador with jurisdiction over the territory where the American civilians are found (sometimes with U.S. federal judges brought to the embassy to conduct proceedings).  Ambassador convened courts have, for example, routinely metted out civilian justice to Americans on foreign military bases (mostly family members of soldiers) in places like Germany and South Korea, and there is no reason that a similar practice couldn't be undertaken in Iraq, which has the largest U.S. embassy in the world.  

    I'm not familiar with the rules of practice in ambassorial courts . . . on fine points like whether a grand jury is required to covene felony proceedings, a difficult matter in a place where most Americans are employees of the convening ambassador and there are few civilians to spare for grand jury duty.  But, ambassadorial court precedents would be a better choice than the one that this law has sent the nation down.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities" -- Voltaire

    by ohwilleke on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:03:40 AM PST

  •  I've been kind of expecting this shitty play from (0+ / 0-)

    the assholes who are misspending our tax dollars, bankrupting our treasury with a rollover for the oil companies, corporate welfare, ---yeeesh, gaaaaaaa---
    About the only thing I won't do is threaten violence or even suggest or condone it. What a nice middle ground these extremists have put us in, huh? I like it!! Makes us look and feel moderate again.

    (-7.63,-6.21) Between Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama - Huh, and I'm a moderate Democrat with a VOTEBLUE tattoo.

    by ezdidit on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 10:05:11 AM PST

  •  Currently, there's 0 justice against these people (0+ / 0-)

    The people in question that they want to target with the UCMJ are the mercenaries we've hired.  As it stands today, they torture people (abu ghraib), rape, murder and profiteer with absolutly no legal recourse on our part.  They do these things and are seemingly above the law.

    So I'm for a bill that would bring these people back under our laws so we can stop some of these crimes and travesties they're committing.

    The real question is if it should be the UCMJ or the civilian courts.  Under normal circumstances for me it would be a slam-dunk for the civilian courts, but there are some abnormal circumstances which muddy the waters.

    If a civilian mercenary we've hired is indiscriminately machine-gunning a crowd of innocent civilians do we ask nicely for him to stop, wait for him to run out of ammo, or take him out with a sniper?

    If we do the first 2, the civilian courts are fine because it's a reactionary body.  Somebody does something bad then we address it after the fact.  But we end up letting a madman in our employ go on a kill-crazy rampage.  That's unacceptable.

    Taking that person out with a sniper is easy under UCMJ.  A field grade officer can order capital punishment in time of war.  However, we don't want the military to randomly be able to abduct and try citizens with UCMJ willy-nilly.  That too is unacceptable.

    And what complicates the issue the most in this hypothetical scenario is that the troops in this squad with which the merc is working aren't cops.  If they just up and shoot the guy to prevent the massacre of innocent civilians, they find themselves on the pointy end of the UCMJ.  Whereas a cop in the civilian world would be authorized to use deadly force to protect a crowd of people from an armed crazy.

    So neither approach is ideal.

    Perhaps a better legislative approach would be in changing the relationship between the corporations we're contracting with to provide the 'contractors' (private mercenary armies/temp agencies) and our forces.  If field grade and above officers could 'fire' individual 'contractors', ie, sever the contract between the US and the company for that individual, and cause them to no longer be in that company's employ as well in times of tactical necessity then that person quickly finds themself as an unlawful combatant with no state backing.

    That would give us the power to take out crazies who are going on kill-crazy rampages, arrest rapists and handle those crimes in the civilian courts and take down war profiteers with the courts.

    It's the legal loophole created by the nature of these corporate-structured mercenary gangs and their contracts with our government that are allowing these people to act with no accountability.  That's the part that has to be fixed and I think we could avoid bringing the UCMJ into it if we did so.

    Of course, there is a much simpler way to avoid these issues in the future: stop using civilian contractors.  From combat to cook, we're getting raped on costs because of the privatization of roles that as recently as 10 years ago were handled by our troops.  And back when troops were doing those jobs, they were accountable for their actions under UCMJ.

    Right now though, mercenaries and meals by contract are the SOP in Iraq and we need to address this lawlessness.

    •  Yes, we do. (0+ / 0-)

      And as far as:

      Of course, there is a much simpler way to avoid these issues in the future: stop using civilian contractors.

      and even simpler: just stay out of wars!

      The Republicans are defunding, not defending, America.

      by DSPS owl on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 11:41:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  UCMJ Allows trying of civilians (0+ / 0-)

    As a former AF JAG officer I can state the UCMJ allows to the Courts-Martial of civilians under certain circumstances.  There is nothing new in this and it has been used in the past although infrequently.

    I have not read new statute but it seems more of an extension of existing law than something totally new and/or radical.

    It is necessary in a world where much of the support for the military is now done by civilian contractors as opposed to uniformed personnel.  

    It allows for control over "contractors" involved in interrogations as well as other activities

  •  Dilemmas of empire: re Justice. (0+ / 0-)

    Preventive invasion, Mercenarization    &   Rights.
    Whose rights? Whose enforcement? Whose justice?

  •  So does that mean that reporters (0+ / 0-)

    while embedded with the troops, or in-bedded with the administration, could be tried for any perceived infractions by a military court ala kangaroo court????

    -5.50, -3.49 Xxtian

    by rMatey on Tue Jan 16, 2007 at 06:00:13 PM PST

  •  Five cases (0+ / 0-)

    This may be of interest even though the cases listed below all occurred in peacetime, may not be directly related to the topic at hand, and Congress may have tweaked the law to overcome objections.  It will take someone far more expert than me to elaborate further.  

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on at least five cases regarding the UCMJ between 1955 and 1960:

    • Toth v. Quarles (1955) An article of the3 UCMJ subjecting civilian ex-servicemen to court martial for crime committed while in military service held to violate Article III Section 2 and the 5th and 6th Amendments. (Vote: 6-3)
    • Reid v. Covert (1957) An article of the UCMJ subjecting civilian dependents accompanying members of the armed forces overseas in time of peace to trial, in capital cases, by court martial violates Article III Section 2, and the 5th and 6th Amendments.  (Vote 6-2)
    • McElroy v. United States (1960) An article of the UCMJ subjecting civilians accompanying the armed forces to trial by court martial invoked in time of peace for the trial of noncapital offenses by employees of the armed forces who have not been inducted or who have not voluntarily enlisted violates the 6th Amendment. (Vote 5-4)
    •  Kinsella v. United States (1960) An article of the UCMJ invoked in time of peace for trial by court martial of noncapital offenses committed by civilian dependents acommpanying members of the armed forces overseas violates Article III Section 2 and the 5th and 6th Amendments.  (Vote 7-2)
    • Grisham v. Hagan (1960)  An article of the UCMJ invoked in time of peace for the trial by court martial of a capital offense committed by a civilian employee of the armed forces overseas violates Article III Section 2, and the 5th and 6th Amendments. (Vote 7-2)

    Source:  "The Constitution of the United States" by Edward C. Smith and William R. Barnes, Barnes And Noble, New York, 1968 (page 62).

  •  More (0+ / 0-)

    The UCMJ is Title 10, Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 47 of the United States Code.  Here's a link (note that the currency of the content is in question):

    For details on the "Manual for Courts-Martial", see here:

    and the latest edition of the MCM (2000) is here:

    Caution:  there have been a series of executive orders that have revised the manual.  These updates are not reflected in the document in the link.

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