CAAFlog has had several posts concerning the recent amendment of Article 2 to provide court-martial jurisdiction for those accompanying our armed forces in the field in contingency operations, broadening the previous jurisdiction grant that applied only in times of declared war.
NIMJ Executive Director Kathleen Duignan now alerts us to a proposed bill that would seem to express Congress’s sense that civilian contractors who are suspected of criminal conduct in contingency operations should be tried in U.S. district courts rather than courts-martial.
The bill, H.R. 369, goes by the rather ungainly title of the Transparency and Accountability in Security Contracting Act of 2007. The bill is sponsored by Representative David Price of North Carolina, a Democratic Assistant Whip. It has been sent to both the House Armed Services and House Judiciary Committees. Considering that one of the bill’s 31 co-sponsors is House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, it should have fairly smooth sledding there.
Here’s the relevant portion:
(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS REGARDING INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF ABUSES BY PRIVATE SECURITY CONTRACTORS.—It is the sense of Congress that—
(1) if there is probable cause to believe that an individual assigned to perform work under a covered contract has violated section 3261(a) of title 18, except in situations in which the individual is prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice or under other law, the Department of Defense should use the authority provided in section 3262 of title 18, United States Code, to arrest and detain that individual and transfer that individual to civilian authorities for prosecution; and
(2) the Secretary of Defense should issue guidance, as soon as possible after the date of the enactment of this Act, on how the amendment made by section 552 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (Public Law 109–364; 120 Stat. 2217) to section 802(a)(10) of title 10, United States Code (article 2(a)(10) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice), will be implemented.