Posts Tagged CEJA

Legal News: Leahy, Price Reintroduce CEJA Bill

Interesting news on the legal front. The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act has been brought up before in the past to give DoJ the jurisdiction necessary to prosecute non-military related contractors. Which is a significant portion of US government contractors. This group would include DoS or ‘other government agency’ type contractors, and this legislation would close that gap. Currently the MEJA covers military related contractors.

Why this is important, and especially now, is that contractors currently work in countries where they are not covered by a SOFA or have immunity. They are basically at the mercy of the local judicial process.  CEJA, like MEJA, would give the US government jurisdiction over contractors that it hires for work in these countries that have no SOFA in place to cover them. Iraq is an example of such arrangement and WPS guys and embassy protection forces are there, currently working for DoS.  CEJA would give jurisdiction for prosecution to the US government.

In other words, if you ran into trouble, would you rather be tried in a US legal system or some overseas third world court run by corrupt officials?

Another point with the CEJA is that it further legitimizes the PMSC industry. It helps to take away that argument that we are somehow ‘above the law’ or untouchable. Clients of our services will benefit from having a protective force that can be held accountable.

It will also contribute to a speedier trial. Just ask the contractors involved with the Nisour Square incident, that have been in a legal mess for years. The legal jurisdiction has been a factor.

So we will see where this goes. One critique I do have in regards to this press release is the mention of Jamie Leigh Jones and her case. Whereas the jurisdictional questions about her case are valid to bring up, I find it disingenuous to not mention the fact that she lied about the whole thing.

To read up on the past issues with the CEJA, check out David Isenberg’s commentary on it over the years. Here is a copy of the latest bill and the Congressional Research Service wrote a report on the particulars of why a CEJA is the right thing to do. We will see how the committee treats this one. –Matt

 

Senator Patrick Leahy in a committee.

 

Leahy, Price introduce legislation to hold American contractors overseas accountable
News Release — Sen. Patrick Leahy

July 14, 2014
Contact:?Jessica Brady (w/Leahy) – 202-224-7703?Andrew High (w/Price) – 202-225-1784
Also helps lay groundwork for eventual preclearance arrangements in restoring Vermont-to-Montreal passenger rail service??WASHINGTON (MONDAY, July 14, 2014) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman David Price (D-N.C.) renewed their partnership on bicameral legislation to provide accountability for American contractors and government employees working abroad.
The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA), which the lawmakers introduced Monday, would close a gap in current law and ensure that government employees and contractors working overseas can be prosecuted for criminal acts they commit abroad. The two lawmakers have worked together on the legislation for years.
The legislation allows the U.S. Justice Department to prosecute government contractors and employees for certain crimes committed overseas. Tragedies like the 2007 killing of unarmed civilians in Baghdad by private security contractors with Blackwater underscore the need for clear jurisdiction and trained investigative and prosecutorial task forces able to hold wrongdoers accountable. Four Blackwater guards involved in the Nisour Square shooting are currently on trial.
“The Blackwater trial is only just now under way, seven years after this tragedy, and the defendants continue to argue in court that the U.S. government does not have jurisdiction to prosecute them,” Senator Leahy said. “This bill would also provide greater protection to American victims of crime, as it would lead to more accountability for crimes committed by U.S. government contractors and employees against Americans working abroad.”

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Industry Talk: The CEO’s Of Triple Canopy And Mission Essential Personnel Speak

This is cool. Every once in awhile, the CEO’s of some of the big companies like to communicate with the public in one way or the other.  In the case of Triple Canopy, Mr. Balderas is rallying support for CEJA.  For Mission Essential Personnel’s CEO, Mr. Taylor was given the chance to speak at a high school graduation ceremony.  (please check out both articles below)

I will not comment much about the CEJA. Contractors must be held accountable, and the CEJA could be one tool used to make contractors accountable. On top of the UCMJ and whatever else laws that congress wants to throw in there, I support anything that makes the client happy.  My only caveat is that any and all laws implemented must not hinder the strategic value of contractors. National security comes first in my book, and any laws should be viewed with this filter. But yes, stuff like this helps to legitimize contractors and make us an asset and not a liability in the war.

The other thing that jumped up at me was the quote Mr. Taylor made about his interpreters:

“Every patrol working in Afghanistan has got a Mission Essential interpreter walking with them,”.

That is pretty remarkable, and it also brings some attention to what that actually means.  That there are ‘contractors’ assisting every combat patrol out there, and those contract interpreters are the only connection between the troops and the locals. That is offensive operations, and without those contractors, there is no way the troops would be effective in that endeavor.  Much like how interpreters and civilian scouts were hired by the US Army during the Indian Wars, we are doing the same thing in these current wars.

The other quote that is stunning, is the amount of contract interpreters being used:

“There are 7,700 Pashto speakers in the United States. [About] 3,300 would be eligible to serve in the capacity we need,” Taylor said. “Of them, we employ 1,800 to 1,900. And we know where the rest of them live.”

That is a lot of American contractors putting their lives at risk by walking side by side with the troops in the war.  According to T. Christine Miller’s casualty graph, MEP has had 36 KIA over the course of the war. (although the DoL does not show any deaths–so these could be local national deaths or other) Triple Canopy has lost 15 guys as well.

Both companies have sacrificed in this war, and we should not forget these sacrifices or any of the contractor sacrifices during this Memorial Day. I also salute both CEO’s for getting the word out.  Perhaps you guys should look into blogging, to further along your strategic communications goals? –Matt

Laying Down the Rules for Private Security Contractors
By Ignacio “Iggy” Balderas
CEO, Triple Canopy
05/24/11
The failure to establish effective accountability over private security contractors (PSCs) hasn’t just obscured important truths about how our nation secures its foreign policy — it has allowed some reckless actors to repeatedly endanger this goal.
We now have a chance to firmly lay down the rules, punish violators and allow the professional PSCs who make me proud every day do the jobs they’re trained to do. This is why I support The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA), which will be reintroduced soon by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT. The bill was originally introduced last year and goes further than the current law in holding contractors accountable and plugs potential legal loopholes that bad actors may take advantage of.

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Legal News: New Legislation–The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act

    Well, we will see how it goes.  I just hope that if this does pass through congress, that those who continue to use the argument that contractors are ‘above the law’ or immune, will finally shut up. We have the MEJA, UCMJ, SOFA’s and MOA’s of other countries and now they want to do CEJA? Phewww, and I am probably missing a few. Maybe the military, congress and countries should look at just enforcing what laws they already have on the books, as opposed to making up new ones all the time? But that would take leadership and effort.

    What I don’t want to see though, are laws that will endanger the lives of contractors or reduce their ability to properly defend  persons or property in this war. Or turn contractors into politically expedient targets of opportunity for unscrupulous politicians or agenda driven folks who could care less about the rights of individuals in my industry. Not to mention that our various enemies throughout this war, will use these laws to their advantage and create all and any situation that will force a violation of these laws.

     Overall, I support any laws that further legitimize this industry, but I am always wary of the final product and how that law is interpreted and used by all.  David Isenberg wrote a story about the CEJA as well, and you can check it out here. –Matt

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PRICE, LEAHY INTRODUCE BILL TO HOLD AMERICAN CONTRACTORS OVERSEAS ACCOUNTABLE UNDER U.S. LAW

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Washington, D.C. –  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Congressman David Price (D-N.C.) Tuesday introduced companion bills in the House and Senate to ensure accountability under U.S. law for American contractors and employees working abroad.  The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA) will close a gap in current law to make certain that American government employees and contractors are not immune from prosecution for crimes committed overseas.

The legislation follows efforts in previous Congresses by Leahy, Price and others, including then-Senator Barack Obama, to provide for prosecution of violations of U.S. law by Americans working overseas for the U.S. government.  Recent examples, including the violent rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, a contractor with Halliburton, while stationed in Iraq, and the killing of unarmed civilians in Baghdad by private security contractors with Blackwater, have further highlighted the need for this legislation.  Jones testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.

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