Local Politics

Congressman Proposes Prosecuting Iraq Contractors

Posted October 2, 2007

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— As his colleagues grilled the founder and chief executive of private security firm Blackwater USA on Monday, 4th District Congressman David Price prepared for a House vote on his bill to prosecute contractors in Iraq.

Price's bill, which would that make all contractors working overseas subject to U.S. prosecution, is expected to go to a floor vote on Tuesday.

"You don't have a good answer for the Iraqis when they say they want to prosecute and we don't have a process for prosecuting them," the Chapel Hill Democrat said.

The FBI is investigating a Sept. 16 incident in which Blackwater personnel opened fire on a crowd outside Baghdad, killing eight people. Blackwater officials maintain they were defending themselves, while the Iraqi government contends those killed were civilians.

Any evidence of wrongdoing in the case will be passed onto the Justice Department, officials said.

Blackwater Chief Executive Erik Prince defended his company Tuesday from charges that personnel were rogue mercenaries.

"I believe we acted appropriately at all times," Prince, a 38-year-old former Navy seal, told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Richard Myers, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law and a former federal prosecutor, said military personnel or contractors working for the military can be prosecuted for crimes in U.S. courts. But the law isn't clear for private contractors working for other government agencies or for private companies.

"I actually think this has the potential to set precedent," Myers said. "This is an important case, and it's the first one to test our system after the significant increase in the use of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Because Blackwater is based in Moyock, any investigation into the company and its actions could fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh.

98 Comments

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  • imyourhuckleberry Oct 4, 2007

    elcid, thanks for your opinion. Fact is the Act protects the pledge from 'unelected officials'. It inhibits censorship at the lowest level. Why would someone in an elected position deny that?

  • makarov90 Oct 4, 2007

    elcid89,

    I bet you are one of those individuals who thinks that the Constitution contains a "right" to same-sex "marriage".

    Since you seem to believe that the Courts are the end all in every debate, then what do you do with the Supreme Court Summary Decision in 1972 that effectively established that traditional state laws defining marriage as the Union of a Man and a Woman DO NOT offend the Constitution of the United States.

    It's the law of the land to this day, and has been cited as precedent by lower Courts.

    This being the case, are you willing to abide by the Courts decision on Marriage?

  • makarov90 Oct 4, 2007

    Even further:

    The Francis Wright, 105 U.S. 381 (1881):

    "Appellate jurisdiction is invoked as well through the instrumentality of writs of error as of appeals. Whether the one form of proceeding is to be used or another depends ordinarily on the character of the suit below; but the one as well as the other brings into action the appellate powers of the court whose jurisdiction is reached by what is done. What those powers shall be, and to what extent they shall be exercised, are, and always have been, proper subjects of legislative control. Authority to limit the jurisdiction necessarily carries with it authority to limit the use of the jurisdiction. NOT ONLY MAY WHOLE CLASSES OF CASES BE KEPT OUT OF THE JURISDICTION A L T O G E T H E R (emphasis added), but particular classes of questions may be subjected to re-examination and review, while others are not."

  • makarov90 Oct 4, 2007

    elcid89,

    ex parte McCardle: LOL! Your contention is absolutely laughable. From the actual opinion: "We are not at liberty to inquire into the motives of the legislature. We can only examine into its power under the Constitution; and the power to make exceptions TO THE APPELLATE JURISDICTION of this court is given by express words." As you can see, it is not limited to Habeas Corpus.

    Sheldon v. Sill: My point in posting this case was that Congress has the absolute authority to strip all inferior Federal Courts from hearing ANY subject that it desires. In fact, it can completely absolute all lower Courts if it so choses.

    US v. Klein: WHAT!!! You actually plagarized a wikipedia article for your response? You've just lost all credibility. Klein has to be read very broadly in order to get that reading. If you actually had any real legal education, you would know that there are other Readings for Klein which SUPPORT Court Stripping Legislation.

  • elcid89 Oct 4, 2007

    "The bill will prevent lower federal courts from ruling on the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance."

    Thereby moving the Pledge from a status of public domain to a status of protected governmental property, thereby opening it up to a direct challenge in the Supreme Court on Constitutional grounds involving Article I. This is a classic case of why laymen should not write laws. They lack the ability to anticipate the consequences of their legislation.

    "Do you even understand what you posted? After you do your homework on why this law is important, how bout you tell me how ridiculous it is!"

    The Pledge, as such, is currently protected by court determinations regarding "under God" as a popular motto rather than as an statement of governmental position. In trying to protect it, you will assist in it's alteration to omit those words from it. From your position, it's better to leave it alone than to tinker with the status quo and end up losing everything you are trying to protect

  • imyourhuckleberry Oct 3, 2007

    Voice of Reason, LOL, did you do your homework? It's ridiculous because of articles like this:

    "The ruling by the Ninth District Court of Appeals that the Pledge of Allegiance is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion sent shock waves throughout the country. The suggestion that listening to the pledge causes harm to any student appalled a vast majority of Americans."

    The bill will prevent lower federal courts from ruling on the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance.

    Do you even understand what you posted? After you do your homework on why this law is important, how bout you tell me how ridiculous it is!

  • tmedlin Oct 3, 2007

    elcid89 - I WONDERED why he didn't respond. Thanks for the explanation - seems like there are way to many of those bills brought to the floor...Oh what a wonderful systm we have.

  • mvnull Oct 3, 2007

    "gee libs have been in power how long..."

    Democrats are far from liberal. Senate Republicans has a veto over anything and everything the Democrats do. How does that mean they are "in power"? In any case, I would like y'all would be overjoyed they aren't accomplishing much. It is win/win for you -- they are impotent and they can't modify what the right has put in place over the last 7 years.

  • elcid89 Oct 3, 2007

    "Looks like "For Sale at any" Price is pandering to the liberals in Chapel Hill, again. Funny, for a do nothing congressmen, why is he even brothering. He re-election is a year away. When is he going to do something that will benefit this area."

    You could always move to a Republican district. We've pretty much got a lock on this one.

  • Uncle Ruckus Oct 3, 2007

    Looks like "For Sale at any" Price is pandering to the liberals in Chapel Hill, again. Funny, for a do nothing congressmen, why is he even brothering. He re-election is a year away. When is he going to do something that will benefit this area.

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