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senate Bill S. 1377

Prosecuting Overseas Crimes Committed by U.S. Contractors

Argument in favor

There is a lot of ambiguity surrounding how U.S. laws apply to overseas contractors. This bill would eliminate the confusion, protect people overseas, and hold criminals accountable.

Steven's Opinion
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01/01/2016
I read the counter argument, are you joking?? If you're a spy and breaking the law is in your job description and you get caught, you can't turn around and say "hey I'm a spy" you can't arrest me for this! Back to reality, when we let contractors go overseas and do what they like with no consequences, we build ill will towards our country.
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BTSundra's Opinion
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02/04/2016
Unless their job requires them to, we should be prosecuting these people. Regardless, the trial should happen in America to make sure their rights are being upheld.
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Denny's Opinion
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02/05/2016
Yes these people should be responsible for their actions. It's already bad enough somebody is making money off of the misery of other poor people. I know everyone has a right to make a living but they need to also look at the morality of how and where you make that money. Especially if we have caused the situation where contractors are in said country to begin with. Jmo
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Argument opposed

This bill needs to address whether some personnel, like intelligence employees, should be shielded from prosecution as their jobs may require them to break the law.

Curmudgeon's Opinion
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07/04/2015
Our interests should focus on protecting our nationals in matters impinging on the legal actions taken by foreign nations, not prosecuting them proactively. Who wants the DOJ horning in when it s so clearly corrupt already.
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npuzar's Opinion
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01/27/2016
US laws stop at US borders, if American contractors commit a crime overseas they should be at the mercy of the overseas courts.
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Patrick's Opinion
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02/05/2016
Turn law breakers over to the country where the crime was committed
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What is Senate Bill S. 1377?

This bill aims to ensure that American contractors and employees working outside of the country are held accountable to U.S. laws.

The
Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA) would change the federal criminal code to allow U.S. authorities to penalize federal contractors and their employees for committing certain crimes while working outside of the U.S.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) would be directed to create new investigative task forces to investigate, arrest, and prosecute contractors and employees who commit serious crimes overseas. The Attorney General would also be allowed to send federal agents to arrest alleged offenders outside of the U.S., as long as there is probable cause. This bill would apply to contractors working in the service of any agency other than the Department of Defense (DOD).

Impact

Overseas federal contractors and employees; people in other nations; the Department of Justice; the Attorney General; Congress.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1377

A CBO estimate of a previous version of this bill found that it would have no significant impact on the federal budget. Costs would be incurred due to investigations and prosecutions, and revenues would be collected from fines, but the overall number of cases would be small.

More Information

In Depth: Rep. David Price (D-NC), the sponsor of this bill's companion in the House, argued in a press release that the bill would improve the U.S.'s international relations by holding contractors accountable:

"Although the number of American military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan has been reduced in recent years, our commitment to the rule of law has not, and closing the accountability gap for U.S. contractors operating overseas is more urgent than ever. We have seen the peril of allowing firms such as Blackwater to operate in a legal no-man’s land—a few bad actors can put our international relationships at risk and undermine the missions we ask our military and diplomatic personnel to complete. The bottom line is: if contractors working on behalf of the United States commit crimes abroad, DOJ should be able to prosecute them."
However, some have argued that the bill would allow the DOJ to prosecute contractors based on political whim. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) explained in a 2011 hearing:
"We should not require agents to pay for defense attorneys and risk jail time at the political whim of the Justice Department."

Of Note: The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (CEJA) has been introduced several times by Senator Leahy (D-VT) over the years, after the passage of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) in 2000. Previous attempts to pass the CEJA have been stymied by debate over whether intelligence personnel should be shielded, as they may be forced to break the law while performing their job.


There has been a jurisdiction gap covering contractors employed by agencies other than the DOD. Contractors performing a military service are covered by the MEJA — but security contractors working for other agencies are not.


This created problems in handling the case of Blackwater contractors who killed 17 unarmed Iraqis in 2007, when the Justice Department attempted to try them under MEJA. A judge dismissed the case as the contractors were providing diplomatic security, which led to the accused not being considered military contractors. The case was revived with a new prosecution team, and all four Blackwater contractors were convicted, although the case is expected to continue through appellate courts.

Media:

(Photo Credit: news.genius.com)

AKA

CEJA

Official Title

A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to clarify and expand Federal criminal jurisdiction over Federal contractors and employees outside the United States, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMay 19th, 2015
    I read the counter argument, are you joking?? If you're a spy and breaking the law is in your job description and you get caught, you can't turn around and say "hey I'm a spy" you can't arrest me for this! Back to reality, when we let contractors go overseas and do what they like with no consequences, we build ill will towards our country.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    Unless their job requires them to, we should be prosecuting these people. Regardless, the trial should happen in America to make sure their rights are being upheld.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes these people should be responsible for their actions. It's already bad enough somebody is making money off of the misery of other poor people. I know everyone has a right to make a living but they need to also look at the morality of how and where you make that money. Especially if we have caused the situation where contractors are in said country to begin with. Jmo
    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
    Our interests should focus on protecting our nationals in matters impinging on the legal actions taken by foreign nations, not prosecuting them proactively. Who wants the DOJ horning in when it s so clearly corrupt already.
    Like (2)
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    Let's refer to them as what they actually are: mercenaries.
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    Think about sex crime. It's real. It happens.
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    By that means the need to be afforded the same right then if they are going to be held to US laws.
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    At least a fair trial
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    This makes sense. We pride ourselves as a nation on having an outstanding legal system. Citizens working abroad should represent themselves as they would in the U.S. and if they don't they should be prosecuted according to our laws if there aren't repercussions in the country they're residing in.
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    Why should US contractors, or anyone else, get away with crimes for which they'd be prosecuted in the US?
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    We do not jurisdiction outside our borders.
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    Does this address atrocities committed by businesses like Blackwater? It should.
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    Doesn't SOFA cover this?
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    Some contractors should be allowed to break the law if it is absolutely necessary.
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    What are we doing there in the first place. We have military, why do we need contractors.
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    Do the crime - do the time. No one rides for free.
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    This should cover every group (including the DoD) or don't bother.
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    These people are our representatives abroad, they need to be held to our standards. No more black water debacles.
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    The military code should be amended to cover CIA agents. Federal agencies should be discouraged from hiring Hessians or other contractors to do government work. Government work should be done by government employees.
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    Americans should be accountable for international activities.
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