Laws covering military contractors in Iraq
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The Supreme Court has, on several occasions, overturned convictions of civilians tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, on the grounds that it violates Constitutional rights. For example, courts martial do not utilize grand juries. However, the notion of projecting U.S. civil jurisdiction overseas (extraterritorial jurisdiction) is cause for resistance. Misconduct by civilian contractors go unpunished due to a lacking in legal jurisdiction regarding this specific area.
At the end of the 109th Congress, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) added a provision to a defense spending bill that allowed for the jurisdiction of military courts over civilian contractors in order to "bring uniformity to the commander's ability to control the behavior of people representing our country."
While the need for a comprehensive legal system covering such issues was recognized as a necessity, Sen. Graham's proposal was criticized as being too broad with the potential for negative consequences. Furthermore, the Uniform Code of Military Justice may only try civilians during time of declared war. Instead, civilians fall under the jurisdiction of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act. In the first week of the 110th Congress, Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) introduced an initiative to strengthen the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, citing military law as "not appropriate for civilians." 
U.S. House Democrats, led by Chief Deputy Whip Jan Schakowsky, called for a briefing by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on January 23, 2007 regarding the role of military contractors in the alleged torturing of detainees. 
Articles and Resources
- Griff Witte, "New Law Could Subject Civilians to Military Trial," Washington Post, January 15, 2007.
- Roxana Tiron, "House Dems seek Gates briefing,: The Hill, January 24, 2007.
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