Wednesday, August 15, 2012
US Law Extends to Foreign Nationals at Overseas Military Base
US v. Brehm: Brehm, a South African citizen, was employed by an American defense contractor providing services to the military at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. He was involved in an altercation with J.O., also employed by a defense contractor at Kandahar (although a different one) and a British citizen. Brehm stabbed J.O. He was charged, in the Eastern District of Virginia, with two counts arising from the incident under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which applies to those "employed by or accompanying the Armed Forces outside the United States." After his motion to dismiss the charges on jurisdictional grounds was denied, Brehm entered a conditional guilty plea.
On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed Brehm's conviction. Brehm argued that the MEJA was unconstitutional as applied to him because neither he, nor J.O., were US citizens, the incident did not occur in furtherance of his duties as an employee of the military contractor, and his conduct was not directed at and did not harm the United States. The court disagreed, noting that such factors did not impact jurisdiction under the MEJA. Were it not for his employment connected to the American military, Brehm would not have been at Kandahar and his behavior would not have effected the operations there. The court also noted that, as part of his employment, Brehm signed an agreement agreeing that the MEJA applied.