August 07, 2006

Patriot Act Used to Charge CIA Contractor


In the weeks after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal stunned Iraq, a story emerged from Afghanistan about a CIA contractor named David Passaro, a former Special Forces medic accused of beating an Afghan detainee so severely that he later died.

More than three years later, after several soldiers working at Abu Ghraib have been sentenced to prison, Passaro will finally stand trial when jury selection begins Monday -- in a civilian court in his home state of North Carolina. He is the first, and so far only, civilian to be charged with mistreating a detainee during the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To bring charges against Passaro, who as a civilian isn't subject to military justice, prosecutors turned to the USA Patriot Act, arguing the law passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks allows the government to charge U.S. nationals with crimes committed on land or facilities designated for use by the U.S. government.
When U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle agreed last year, prosecutors received a license to enforce the nation's criminal laws in "any foxhole a soldier builds," said Duke University law professor Scott Silliman.

"Until 2005, Passaro ... was unreachable in federal courts," said Silliman, who runs Duke's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security. "What we're seeing is Congress moving to ensure there is criminal accountability for civilians accompanying the forces."

Silliman said the law represents a dramatic expansion of the reach of federal prosecutors, whose jurisdiction most experts believed was limited to places like embassies and consulates, and not locations like the remote U.S. base in Afghanistan where detainee Abdul Wali turned himself in to U.S. forces.
"What the Patriot Act said was that part of Afghanistan is now part of our ... jurisdiction," Silliman said. "The charge of assault is as if it had occurred in Raleigh. All you have to show it's an assault."

Waiting for the left side of the blogosphere to condemn this expansion of federal power against a U.S. citizen? Don't hold your breath.

While the Glenn/Ellison/Wilson/Ellers side of the blogosphere (and that's just in one house in Brazil) is quick to condemn the Patriot Act for just about any other application of it's power, I strongly suspect that when it comes to this case, Lefties will fall silent. An ACLU challenge would be most unexpected.


The answer should be obvious. Liberals seem only concerned about the "Good Americans," i.e. them, that might have their rights infringed upon by what they see as an abusive Patriot Act. Men such as Passaro, as emissaries of Bush Administration foreign policy, aren't seen to have those same rights. They are, in effect, "Bad Americans."

I happen to be thankful that the Patriot Act gives the government a legal option to seek redress for crimes committed by U.S. civilians, and hope that Passaro gets a fair trial in the courts to resolve his guilt or innocence.

No man should be above the law, regardless of politics. In this instance, the Patriot Act provides that law.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 7, 2006 08:26 AM | TrackBack

I agree, he should be held to account for the charges. If guilty, put him in jail.

Posted by: Retired Navy at August 7, 2006 08:43 AM