US Military Finally Places Contractor On Trial

The war in Iraq has resulted in a host of problems for American and Iraq society, including the existence of a legal situation in which civilian contractors operate in a gray area which prevents them from being tried for crimes. The Bush administration forced an agreement on Iraq which allows civilian contractors to be exempt from Iraq law, and since Congress has never declared war, the contractors are also exempt from American civil or military law. Due to an amendment to the Uniform Code of Justice, civilian contractors can now be placed on trial before a military court.

Alaa Mohammad Ali, an Iraqi-Canadian translator who works with a private contractor, will become the first civilian to be tried under the new provisions. He is charged with murdering a fellow employee and will stand trial in a military court. Prior to the amendment it would have been unclear who had legal jurisdiction over this crime.

During the Vietnam War, which was also never witnessed a declaration of war by Congress, several civilians were tried in a military court for crimes.

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