Soldiers’ Justice; Readers React (Updated)

Glanz583.jpgIf you haven’t had a chance yet, go check out the comments to Peter Singer’s story on the private military contractors who will now have to face soldiers’ justice. A few samples:

My CO had a very interesting way of making sure the civilian contractors in his area to behave. Before he came the civilian contractors were acting like thugs. My CO in the civilian world is a cop. So he got his friends to pull up personal data on the civilian contractors.
He had a meeting with them and basically told them if they keep on acting the way they did he will make sure their personal information makes it’s way to the insurgents and he will personally hand them over to members of the Iraqi police that he is fairly certain are members of the insurgency.
Funny thing was after that meeting the civilian contractors stopped being thugs to the Iraqis.

Posted by: Billy at January 4, 2007 03:21 PM

Good. Exposure to the UCMJ means additional risk, which means more money. I need a raise.
Being subject to the UCMJ will make us immune from Iraqi law under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), just like soldiers.
Also, the US government will not turn us over to the International Criminal court (ICC) to be tried for war crimes; real, imagined, or concocted.
I lived under UCMJ for 22 years. A few more will not make any difference.

Posted by: Thorn… at January 4, 2007 01:39 PM

The British Investigation into the “Elvis” video event released its report before Christmas concluding that all the footage in the video came from legitimate operations. Strange you mention the case to support your argument but don’t mention the (previous) resolution. Raised major red flags with me about the enitire article.
Posted by: Michael Stora at January 4, 2007 02:48 PM

I am on my 3rd tour, I have seen a contractor shoot a civilian in the head because he protested when the contractor grabbed his daughters breasts. There was nothing that anyone could do about it when re radioed it in we were told to lethim go. This isjust one of dozens of stories and one that I saw myself.
Posted by: WKean at January 4, 2007 01:49 PM

Kevin Drum, ROFASIX, Hilzoy, MountainRunner, the Columbia Journalism Review, and my man Blackfive all have interesting takes, too. Give ’em a read.
UPDATE 01/05/06 6:15 PM: P.W. Singer “refute[s] a few of the most insane/stupid posts” responding to his story.
UPDATE 01/05/06 11:30 AM: Pat Dollard sends as an interesting take on the rule changes from one military officer. Check it out after the jump.

1. There are a few Articles [in the UCMJ] that apply [to reporters]
Article 82 - SOLICITATION (this would apply to the guy who pimped the soldier to challenge Rumsfeld about the vehicle armor); Article 88 Contempt; Articles 89 - Disrespect, Article 107 - MAKING A FALSE OFFICIAL STATEMENT (I would like to pay some people back); Article 117 provoking speeches or gestures, Article 132 - FRAUDS AGAINST THE UNITED STATES
2. For contractors (we are actually referring ONLY to security contractors like BlackWater, Triple Canopy) This amendment to the already existing law will help area/unit commanders control their actions and their movement. Since they are mercenaries, and many prior military, every single article applies to them
3. You can see how this tool will effect BOTH “contractors” and media personnel. The way I see it is this:
A- [Applied to reporters, it is] a tool for the government to allow/use the military to control media content and output. This could be a VERY controversial issue.
B- [Applied to contractors,] it allows for unit and area commanders to CONTROL the conduct and accountability of civilians/contractors/reporters that are operating in their Area of Operation. As a military commander, who personally, and intimately dealt with both agencies outlined above, I feel that this is the greatest merit of the “amendment” to the law.
4. What is missing is an appendix, that deals with the specific application of all the articles of the UCMJ as it applies to contractors, reporters, etc. It already exists, but there are a few grey areas that immediately pop out. Realize there are many, but here are few to get your mouth wet: Is there a specific authority that can adjudicate the law? Right now, as a Captain, I can punish/adjudicate the law to all those who the law applies to. My authority, as well as at the battalion level - uses Non- Judicial Punishment to adjudicate the law. We take away rank, money, assign “extra duties”, and restrict or “ground” them. So, it would make sense to me that all of these cases will be referred to a higher authority in order to adjudicate the law by Court Martial. All the money, rank, etc applies, but there is imprisonment factors and felony/criminal charges that carry the same implications as in the “real world”.
There is no “double-jeopardy”. We cannot charge, and punish you against the UCMJ, and then punish you for the same offense in the civilian court system. So, I cannot use MEJA and the UCMJ together, it has to be one or the other.
These laws need to be explained to everyone that it applies to. And in my opinion, there needs to be some sort of signature/contract that binds them to these laws.
5. While I like the whole concept, it leaves too much to interpretation and needs to be strictly defined, so that when it comes time to hold the “target audience” accountable for their actions - there can be no way they can get out of it. We can do MUCH better, and I am surprised that no one has taken the initiative on this.
Since the DOJ, MEJA, and all the other bullshit cannot take care of this issue on their own, they will continue the trend of piling this responsibility upon the shoulders of the US service members. Since we are already carrying the State Department on our backs, in addition to battling a raging insurgency, and rebuilding a nation - I guess we can make room for the DOJ. I guess it really makes sense. Do you really think they will send Department of Justice personnel to Iraq to help enforce MEJA and all applicable laws? As it applies to most of our public officials, they are not willing to shoulder the same burden and make the same sacrifices as the American, and now Iraqi, service members. But, like I said, this would be a much appreciated tool for military commanders to control their battle-space. So, all bitching aside, I like it. And it makes me want to go back even more.