NPR, which has been devoting a great deal of attention to the Blackwater story, has this article on its web site addressing proposed legislation to provide additional legal avenues for dealing with U.S. contractors in Iraq.
The bill that the article discusses appears to be S. 674, sponsored by Senator Obama and co-sponsored by Senators Durbin and Whitehouse. The bill has been languishing in the Senate Armed Services Committee since February. Section 7 of the legislation includes the following proposed amendment of MEJA and proposed “sense of Congress”:
(a) Clarification of Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act-
(1) INCLUSION OF CONTRACTORS- Subsection (a) of section 3261 of title 18, United States Code, is amended–
(A) by striking `or’ at the end of paragraph (1);
(B) by striking the comma at the end of paragraph (2) and inserting `; or’; and
(C) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
`(3) while employed under a contract (or subcontract at any tier) awarded by any department or agency of the United States Government, where the work under such contract is carried out in a region outside the United States in which the Armed Forces are conducting a contingency operation,’.
(2) DEFINITION- Section 3267 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(5) The term `contingency operation’ has the meaning given that term in section 101(a)(13) of title 10.’.
(b) Sense of Congress on Investigation and Prosecution of Abuses by Private Security Contractors and Others- It is the sense of Congress that–
(1) if there is probable cause to believe that an individual assigned to perform private security functions under a covered contract, any other contractor personnel, or any contractor has violated section 3261(a) of title 18, United States Code, except in situations in which the individual is prosecuted under chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (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 such individual. personnel, or contractor and transfer such individual, personnel, or contractor 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.
Section 8 would require the FBI to establish Theater Investigative Units that would
“be responsible for investigating allegations of criminal misconduct under section 3261 of title 18, United States Code, by contract personnel.”
Representative Price’s proposed H.R. 2740, which includes similar provisions, has been reported out of the House Judiciary Committee.