Monday, May 18, 2009

Court-Martial News Roundup

A few courts-martial of interest from around the globe:

-- An interesting case involving classified materials and a Marine reservist out at Camp Pendleton. As this San Diego Union-Tribune story reports

Art. 32 Investigating Officer Lt. Col. Curtis Permito said sufficient evidence exists to try Master Sgt. Reinaldo Pagan for allegedly disobeying orders, lying to investigators and violating standards of good order and discipline. But he advised Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, the convening authority in the case, that Pagan's purported misdeeds are better characterized as “negligent” than “willful.” Stalder will decide whether to order a court-martial.
The interesting part of the story is how Pagan's alleged neglect in protecting classified information came to light:

Pagan's case is part of a broader investigation into an alleged ring of Marine and Navy reservists who took advantage of lax security at Camp Pendleton to tap classified intelligence stored on the base. The suspects allegedly passed this information to members of the Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning Group, a civilian law-enforcement operation that wasn't cleared to view the information.
Just to be clear, MSgt Pagan is not accused of being part of that ring. He appears to be involved in safeguarding classified materials and allegedly did not do his job up to the standards required.

-- In other news, 4 (now former) civilian contractors are allegedly being held against their will in Afghanistan following a shooting that wounded to Afghan civilians. See CNN story here. The reason I post this under court-martial news is, I wonder what authority the military will exercise to keep the former contractors in country for the investigation if they manage to find a way out of the country? I suspect some form of UCMJ authority. We'll see if Mr. Callahan, whose listed as an attorney for the contractors, files for habeas at some point. Their status as "former" contractors will make for an interesting argument on jurisdiction, an issue raised bu never decided in the first civilian brought to court-martial under amended Art. 2(a)(10), see page 17 of the Ali v. Austin Writ.

-- Another soldier charged in shooting death of a fellow soldier. This MNC-I press release tells us:

Sgt. Miguel A. Vegaquinones is charged with one specification alleging involuntary manslaughter under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 119 and one specification of making a false official statement under the UCMJ, Article 107. Pfc. Sean P. McCune died after allegedly being shot by Vegaquinones following the completion of their guard duty shift in Samarra, Iraq, Jan. 11. The apparent cause of death was a negligent discharge from Vegaquinones’ weapon.
We'll track that case and the Camp Liberty shooting incident we reported on earlier, here. No new news on charges in that case or the RCM 706 evaluation (competency/sanity evaluation process).

-- Interesting story about 2003 courts-martial for British soldiers that alleged abused looters here. Apparently the British MOD recently paid close to a million GBP to nine victims of the abuse. The story has this commentary, "The disclosure [of the large payments to Iraqi civilians] has led to claims that a compensation culture has been created where Iraqi civilians are now encouraged by British lawyers to bring actions against the government in the hope of winning huge payouts."

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