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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Another step on the way to an authoritarian military state
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Monday, January 15, 2007

Another step on the way to an authoritarian military state

Private contractors and other civilians serving with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan could be subject for the first time to military courts-martial under a new federal provision that legal scholars say is almost certain to spark constitutional challenges.

The provision, which was slipped into a spending bill at the end of the last Congress, is intended to close a long-standing loophole that critics say puts contractors in war zones above the law.

i have several reactions here... the first, obviously, is the outrageous notion of having civilians tried in military tribunals... this is major precedent, and, mark my words, is no more intended to be restricted to afghanistan and iraq than the iraq troop escalation is meant to be temporary... and, get this, the rationale for restricting it to those two countries contains this mind-boggling revelation...
Previously, civilians could be tried under the UCMJ only during a declared war. Since military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan never involved a declaration of war, civilians have been exempt. But the new provision also allows the UCMJ to be applied to certain civilians during a "contingency operation." Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq both fit that definition.

wow...! so, NOW we learn that our president has never been commander-in-chief during an actual WAR, only pretending to be one during a "contingency operation..." whaddaya know...!

so, what kind of folks could get swept up and charged under this new approach...? and charged with WHAT...?

"Soldiers subject themselves to a different system of criminal justice. That's a decision that's made by everyone who enlists," [Christopher Anders, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union] said. "There may be some logic in applying military standards to civilian military contractors who are taking up arms. But it's a whole different thing when others are swept up."

The Pentagon is still developing guidance on how the new provision will be used. "We're going to have to go through and assess the situation as the facts and circumstances develop," spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said.

mmm-hmmm... but, back to the question...
[L]egal observers say it could be interpreted broadly to also include employees with other government agencies, as well as reporters.

"One could imagine a situation in which a commander is unhappy with what a reporter is writing and could use the UCMJ to pressure the reporter," said Phillip E. Carter, a contracting lawyer with McKenna Long & Aldridge.

ah, i see... so, if you or i are annoying enough in our resistance to all things bushco, it's conceivable that we could be charged under the UCMJ, and, well, let's just say halliburton isn't building all those domestic detention centers for NOTHING, ya know...

a second reaction, that the provision is intended to close a loophole, while it makes sense on its face, is ALSO a load of bollocks since a provision for subjecting civilians to justice from federal prosecutors is ALREADY in place, but, mysteriously, has never been used...

At least theoretically, contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan have been subject to criminal law in the United States through the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, known as MEJA. That law, passed in 2000, is supposed to expand federal prosecutors' authority to foreign battlefields. But MEJA has yet to be used to prosecute contractors.


now, let's take a look at that "slipped into a spending bill" crap... first of all, who did the slipping...? why, none other than our favorite "slipper," bush toady par excellence, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)... and he did it how...?

[T]he provision sparked virtually no debate last year when Graham had it written into the defense spending bill for 2007. The change was easy to miss: It involved adding just five words to a massive bill. The bill was signed into law by President Bush.

a typical bushco tactic - hiding in plain sight... more proof, as if any was needed, that we have been and remain under constant attack from this presidential administration, which moves inexorably forward, often in the dead of night, but, just as often in daylight under our very noses, grabbing power in all conceivable ways...

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