Soldiers' Justice Spreads


merc_left.jpgMore big media outlets are picking up on -- and adding to -- Peter Singer's Defense Tech scoop, that private military members with now be subject to the same laws as American soldiers. There may even be a test case coming up, sooner than we all thought.Virginian-Pilot:

As pressure grows in Congress to hold private military companies such as Blackwater USA more accountable for their conduct, reports have surfaced of a Dec. 24 shooting in Baghdad that could serve as a textbook case.
Austin American-Statesman:
the contractors subject to the military's laws and penalties serves as a deterrent, defense analyst Larry Korb said. "It gives the commanders there the ability to say, 'Look, you are in my zone of responsibility. Here's the ground rules, and if you violate them, here's what happens.'"
Doug Brooks... president of the International Peace Operations Association, [which] represents private security firmsgroup's president... said the military justice code is not well equipped to handle crimes committed by civilians."We're all for accountability, and frankly the UCMJ will be great if it can work," Brooks said of the rule change. "But UCMJ isn't the right thing to do this."He cited concerns about the constitutionality of subjecting civilians to military legal processes, thereby depriving them of certain aspects of the regular judicial process.Brooks said it also was unclear whether the military justice code could be applied to non-Americans. If the law applies only to Americans working on Defense contracts, he said, it would ultimately cover less than 10 percent of the contracting force in Iraq, which includes people from around the world.
Financial Times:
Christopher Beese, chief administration officer for ArmorGroup, a security company that operates in Iraq, said he doubted whether the new law would have any impact until the US, UK and Iraqi authorities "demonstrate there is resolve to take action where action is necessary".Mr Beese added that even in situations where ArmorGroup had itself raised concerns about the actions of some of its employees, it had found great difficulty getting the authorities to act.
US Army Colonel Peter Mansoor, an influential military thinker on counter-insurgency and a veteran of the Iraq war, told Jane's in a recent interview that the US military needs to take "a real hard look at security contractors on future battlefields and figure out a way to get a handle on them so that they can be better integrated - if we're going to allow them to be used in the first place".
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