The Boston Globe and Defense News have picked up on Peter Singer's scoop -- that military contractors are now going to be subject to soldiers' justice.Neither the Globe nor Defense News could find any big defense contractor to comment on the five-word change to the law, spearheaded by Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and former JAG. But they've caught the legal and private military interest groups squirming.Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council, an organization that represents government contractors, tells Defense News that "one result [of the rule change] may be that contractors now can be punished for actions not ordinarily prosecutable under U.S. law."
The UCMJs "behavioral requirements are very different and potentially in conflict with contract law and criminal law," Soloway said...Civilian contractors now might be punished for disrespecting an officer, disregarding an order or committing adultery actions that are not prosecutable under U.S. law, Soloway said."If a general or colonel directs a contractor or government civilian to do something that is outside terms of contract, under U.S. procurement law, the contractor does not do it without authority from the contracting officer," Soloway said. But under the UCMJ, "that might be failure to follow an order.""I think there should have been some kind of hearing before Congress passed this measure," Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, tells the Globe.
"Ultimately, if this power is used, it will create a substantial issue that would likely reach the Supreme Court, and it will put us at odds with contemporary international standards."Fidell said that US courts have a history of throwing out convictions of civilians who were tried in military courts, including the 1957 case of a wife who killed her husband on a military base."There was a period of decades that you could have crimes by US persons overseas that could never be punished," he said.Hopefully, that will start to change.