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Copyright (c) 2005 The John Marshall Law School
The John Marshall Law Review

COMMENT: PRIVATE MILITARY CONTRACTOR LIABILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY AFTER ABU GHRAIB

Summer, 2005

38 J. Marshall L. Rev. 1237

Author

Mark W. Bina*

Excerpt



I. Introduction
 
During the months he was stationed in Iraq, thirty-five year-old Todd Drobnick endured multiple violent attacks from Iraqi insurgents armed with a variety of lethal weapons. 1 Tragically, Drobnick was killed on November 23, 2003 in Mosul, Iraq when the vehicle he was driving collided with a petroleum truck. 2 The Department of Defense provided him with an official military burial and awarded him a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. 3

Months later, however, the U.S. Army revoked both of his awards. 4 As it turned out, Drobnick was not a member of the U.S. military; rather, he was an employee of Titan Corp., a private military contractor providing Arabic-language translation services to U.S. forces in Iraq. 5

Drobnick's situation is representative of the nebulous line separating enlisted soldiers and private contractors in the current war in Iraq. But while the vast majority of military contractors like Drobnick have served honorably beside U.S. forces in Iraq, a handful have not. 6 In fact, a small number of private military contractors are implicated in what has been called "arguably the worst military scandal in a generation." 7

When a U.S. soldier engages in wrongful conduct, federal law provides for the criminal punishment of offenders and for compensation to victims. 8 Similarly, when private military contractors commit these wrongs, there are some measures of criminal accountability. 9 Currently, however, there are no formal procedures for compensating wartime victims injured by the wrongs of civilian contractors. 10
 
 
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