Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Letter to Senator Durbin

Dear Senator Durbin,

As you are well aware, the United States currently has soldiers positioned in some Middle Eastern countries, namely Iraq and Afghanistan. Our troops are there for a noble purpose, the war on terror, but there is a dark secret looming behind the troops. Each day many innocent civilians are killed in this war on terror. The people who are doing the killing will continue to kill and use excessive force on terrorists and innocent civilians alike, since they know that they can proceed and they will not be punished because basically they have immunity from punishment by local jurisdiction, and sometimes even U.S. law.
How can the troops kill like this and know they will not be punished, you ask? Well, the truth is that U.S. soldiers are not the ones who kill without consequence. The United States regularly employs private contractors, or guns for hire if you will, to execute some operations for them and skip the hassle of the red tape. The problem with this is that the private contractors can kill anyone, including innocent civilians, and commit horrible acts of violence, and they can do all this and know they will go unpunished by the local law, because they are actually protected by U.S. Law! A quote from the official Human Rights Watch (HRW) website explains it all. “An estimated 180,000 private contractors in Iraq are immune from local criminal prosecution because of regulations originally imposed by the US government… a patchwork of US federal laws leaves many contractors effectively immune from prosecution in the United States as well.” This obviously has to be some sort of mistake; the United States would never condone such criminal acts as these. No, this is in fact correct, and according the HRW, in many instances the “thousands of contractors employed by US agencies (other than the Department of Defense) may be immune from prosecution in US courts when they commit felonies outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”
This, Senator, is something that we must take immediate action against. I strongly urge you to support, in any way that is within your power, the plan of Rep. David Price. The legislation of Rep. Price, according to HRW, would “extend the reach of a federal law, called the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), to cover all US contractors overseas… Price’s legislation (HR 2740) would clarify that any US contractor who commits a felony while operating in Iraq or Afghanistan is liable to federal criminal prosecution under MEJA, regardless of what agency issued the contract.” This is a law that must be passed in order to assure that these private contractors will not be able to continue with their horrible acts and go unpunished for them.
This is about more than trying cover for ourselves; this is about innocent human life being taken away. Representing a proud country like ours, and what we stand for, I urge you to push this legislation and put a stop to the horrible travesty that occurs by people hired by us. We cannot sit by and let these contractors do this, we must stand up for what the country was founded on, and put a stop to these atrocious acts. Thank you for taking the time to hear the voice of a concerned citizen.

With deepest regards,
Luke Moreno

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