Saturday, December 02, 2006

Extending court-martial jurisdiction to civilians accompanying the forces in contingency operations

CAAFlog has previously written about the FY 2007 DOD Authorization Act's expansion of court-martial jurisdiction to cover civilians accompanying our military forces in contingency operations. See New UCMJ amendment, 22 Oct 2006, The 13 November issue of U.S. News and World Report included a short but interesting piece explaining this provision's origin:

The New Long Arm of the (Military) Law

A tiny provision in the $532.8 billion defense authorization act signed by President Bush October 17 could have a big impact on civilian contractors working with the military in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hot spots. Previously only "in time of war" could civilians "accompanying an armed force in the field" face a court-martial for alleged criminal acts. Now that provision has been expanded to include a "contingency operation" like the conflict in Iraq, which is not a declared war. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, himself a military lawyer, sponsored the provision; an aide says Graham wanted civilians to be subject to the same rules as military personnel in conflicts. "Will they use that authority?" asks Eugene Fidell, an expert on military law. "I don't know, but if they do, there is certain to be a constitutional challenge."

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