(Washington Times) A last-minute addition to a federal spending bill at the end of the last U.S. Congress now makes civilians eligible for military courts-martial. With the addition of just five words, the provision sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was signed into law by President Bush, and makes civilian government employees and journalists eligible for prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Washington Post reported Monday. “Right now, you have two different standards for people doing the same job,” Graham said. “This will bring uniformity to the commander’s ability to control the behavior of people representing our country.”
Mystech: We’ll see how much those pesky journalists like their exposés when they’re sweating it out in a Turkish “interrogation” center. :-(
Legal experts say the change will likely raise constitutional challenges, as civilians prosecuted in military court don’t receive a grand jury hearing and are tried by members of the military, rather than by a jury of their peers.
Until now, civilians could be tried under the military code only during a declared war, but neither operations in Afghanistan nor Iraq involve such a declaration.