U.S. civilians can face military trials

(Washington Times) A last-minute addition to a federal spending bill at the end of the last U.S. Congress now makes civilians eligible for military courts-martial. With the addition of just five words, the provision sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was signed into law by President Bush, and makes civilian government employees and journalists eligible for prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Washington Post reported Monday. “Right now, you have two different standards for people doing the same job,” Graham said. “This will bring uniformity to the commander’s ability to control the behavior of people representing our country.”

Mystech: We’ll see how much those pesky journalists like their exposés when they’re sweating it out in a Turkish “interrogation” center. 🙁

Legal experts say the change will likely raise constitutional challenges, as civilians prosecuted in military court don’t receive a grand jury hearing and are tried by members of the military, rather than by a jury of their peers.
Until now, civilians could be tried under the military code only during a declared war, but neither operations in Afghanistan nor Iraq involve such a declaration.

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7 Responses

  1. Jared says:

    I really hope that isn’t how this is used; the law was meant to apply the UCMJ to mercenaries working in US military or quasi-military (read: CIA) employ. It keeps “our guys” out of the potentially-cruel civilian justice systems of some of the countries (read: Iraq and the Stans) that the DoD is currently deploying mercenaries to, and more tightly under the thumbs of the military commanders in the region, who might otherwise have to deal with contractees stateside who could throw up significant red-tape barriers to regulating the behavior of “his” contracted labor.

  2. Mystech says:

    That is the danger with laws such as this one. They cut in several directions and given our current regime, I fear for the most abusive application.

  3. delathi says:

    So, journalists can’t be gay now.

  4. Jared says:

    Unfortunately, I fear your worries are all too justified. With General Gonzales ensconced in Justice, and the White House Council office headed by Harriet Miers (didn’t she just resign, or am I remembering that wrong?) there are few ordinarily-well-defined rules that can’t be reinterpreted if the President desires a task (say, silencing a critic) accomplished. The only thing – and I do mean only – standing between journalists working with the military and military justice, is the fact that the DoD is run by soldiers, not by White House counsel. I guess the other thing, and it’s a slim favor, is that this President is Bush, not Nixon; his advisors are plenty willing to play dirty politics in order to silence critics (much like Nixon’s) but unlike Nixon, Mr. President Bush seems content to snipe at or ignore his critics instead of having them arrested, deported, and thrown into deep dark Syrian prisons, which he could do.

  5. Mystech says:

    Fortunate indeed, although I’d wager that the Washington Post is sorely tempting the White House to invoke some of those dark methods. 🙂

  6. Nighthob says:

    Wow. I just can’t tell you how proud I am to have been raised as a South Carolinian.

    I would say naughty things about Lindsey Graham, but I fear being whisked off to some gulag from which I’ll never be heard again.

  1. January 17, 2007

    […] Feinstein Speaks out on U.S. Attornies Firings by Mystech @ 8:28 am In a chilling bit of prophecy, Jared commented on the slight differences between Nixon and George W. Bush in silencing their critics. A recent address by Senator Feinstein addressed the fact that the Bush regime has been pressuring “forced retirements” of U.S. Attorneys that have expressed negative views of the legality of the regimes actions and those that have attempted to pursue corruption allegations related the Bush regime and and certain Republican politicians. A move straight from the Nixon play book in the days prior to his last days in scandal and corruption. Senator Feinstein’s remarks and video of her address after the cut. […]

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