Wednesday, April 18, 2007

UCMJ Jurisdiction over Government Contractors

Regarding a topic previously discussed in Caaflog, the cover story in the Washington Post on Sunday, April 15, 2007, contained a story by Steve Fainaru, "Four Hired Guns in an Armored Truck, Bullets Flying, and a Pickup and a Taxi Brought to a Halt. Who Did the Shooting and Why? A Chaotic Day On Baghdad's Airport Road," that included an interesting narrative about the "unresolved" (cf. ambiguous) jurisdiction of the UCMJ over government contractors. To wit:

The U.S. military has brought charges against dozens of soldiers and Marines in Iraq, including 64 servicemen linked to murders. Not a single case has been brought against a security contractor, and confusion is widespread among contractors and the military over what laws, if any, apply to their conduct. The Pentagon estimates that at least 20,000 security contractors work in Iraq, the size of an additional division.

Private contractors were granted immunity from the Iraqi legal process in 2004 by L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. occupation government. More recently, the military and Congress have moved to establish guidelines for prosecuting contractors under U.S. law or the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but so far the issue remains unresolved.

10 comments:

John O'Connor said...

Uh oh, here comes No Man. Do you have any questions about Blakely?

No Man said...

JO'C beat me to the punch. The article, and a couple others across the country this weekend, gets the central issue reversed. Everyone knows what law(s) applies, no one knows how to implement it. I am looking forward to a fun filled day at CAAF and the JSC Code Committee briefing.

Rich said...

Does anyone know where I could find a copy of the guidelines that Congress and the military are trying to put forward? It would really help with a paper I'm trying to write.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where a government contractor convicted under UCMJ jurisdiction would be confined?! Has anyone thought that far ahead?

Guert Gansevoort said...

I would imagine at Fort Leavenworth. Why would a civilian subject to military jurisidiction be treated any differently than military members subject to military jurisdiction.

No Man said...

To answer Guert's question, because he is not subject to UCMJ jurisdiction in Ft Leavenwortg, KS. The confinement issue is actually relatively standard of the problem Col Graham created. Is the civilian the same as a military person when he is in Ft. Leavenworth, KS-ie not in the field? The answer must be that they are different, but how they could or should be treated differently is the real question.

CAAFlog said...

Keep in mind that under Article 2(a)(7), a court-martial has jurisdiction over "Persons in custody of the armed forces serving a sentence imposed by a court-martial." So if a civilian contractor were court-martialed and did time in, say, the USDB, there would continue to be court-martial jurisdiction over the individual. This jurisdiction is important -- and, on at least on occasion, I've seen it actually used -- to exert control over a prisoner who continues to be confined in a military facility after execution of a punitive discharge arising from a court-martial conviction.

John O'Connor said...

Tsk, tsk, No Man. That was an easy one.

CAAFlog said...

Please pardon my typos when I typed my earlier comment. You get the idea.

NoMan said...

DOH! Good point. I'll stick to civil procedure