Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 18, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

IRONY OF THE DAY....As we all know by now, some of the abuses at Abu Ghraib were carried out by civilian contractors, which poses a thorny legal problem: who has jurisdiction over their behavior? They aren't military, so they aren't subject to military law. They aren't in America, so they aren't subject to American law. And although they might be in Iraq, they aren't subject to Iraqi law either.

Quite the conundrum until recently, anyway. You see, it turns out that due to a recent statutory change, the jurisdiction of U.S. law now extends to:

the premises of United States diplomatic, consular, military or other United States Government missions or entities in foreign States, including the buildings, parts of buildings, and land appurtenant or ancillary thereto or used for purposes of those missions or entities, irrespective of ownership....

Such as, for example, Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

In other words, if the Department of Justice cares to get involved, they have all the authority they need to bring charges against civilian contractors involved in prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. And what new statute do we have to thank for making federal jurisdiction clearer in cases like this? That would be Public Law 107-56, otherwise known as the USA PATRIOT Act.

Ironic, no? Phil Carter has the details.

Kevin Drum 6:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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