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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Detention in Iraq of U.S. Civilian Challenged

WASHINGTON (CN) - An attorney has filed a habeas petition for a civilian contractor who has been imprisoned at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq since November, and whom the U.S. military wants to court martial - though he is a civilian. David Breda Jr. says the military confiscated his passport, and claims he was "never officially notified of the nature of the pending charges which allegedly confer jurisdiction on the United States military to hold (him) against his will at Al Asad Air Base."

Breda says he served 6½ years in the U.S. Army and was discharged as a sergeant in 2001. He was working for KBR as a civilian contractor when he was detained on Nov. 26, 2008.

His attorney, David Sheldon, says Breda, "a full-fledged U.S. civilian, is poised to be tried by military court-martial, something that has not happened to a U.S. civilian government employee or U.S. contractor in at least thirty-eight years. The United States military has confined Mr. Breda to the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq for more than 60 days beyond the expiration of his civilian contract in preparation for court-martial proceedings despite a series of Supreme Court decisions rejecting on constitutional grounds prior efforts to subject civilians to trial by court-martial. The asserted basis for the military's actions is an ill-considered 2006 amendment to the Uniform Code of Military Justice ('UCMJ'), enacted without hearings or committee consideration, that purports to subject certain civilians to trial by court-martial during 'contingency operations.' But this statute, if it even applied to Mr. Breda by its terms, cannot overcome the long line of Supreme Court precedent limiting court-martial jurisdiction to accuseds who, unlike Mr. Breda, are actually part of the active armed forces."

Breda's attorney insists, "The United States cannot hold Mr. Breda under restrictions tantamount to confinement in Iraq without the bail hearing to which a civilian defendant is ordinarily entitled, in the guise of proceeding with a court-martial that the United States military has neither the constitutional nor statutory authority to convene."

Breda received an "other than honorable" discharge from the Army on March 9, 2001, and is not allowed to be re-admitted to the U.S. military, according to the complaint. On Nov. 26, 2008, one day before finishing his stint with KBR, he received a "Restriction in Lieu of Arrest" from Brig. Gen. Randolf Alles, the commanding general of Al Asad Air base. Alles also is commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, which is stationed there.

"Because the Memorandum of Restriction in Lieu of Arrest also forbade Mr. Breda from any contact with Ms. Rachael Wright, a former KBR co-worker and former MWR (Moral Welfare and Recreation) Coordinator, the military has only intimated that Mr. Breda is being held in Iraq as a result of a complaint made by Ms. Wright on or about Nov. 6, 2008 wherein she alleged that Mr. Breda had inappropriately touched her on or (sic) Oct. 4, 2008," according to the complaint.

Breda has a wife and children in Pearland, Texas.

His attorney demands a writ of habeas corpus and an order prohibiting the court martial, or a writ of mandamus and order of prohibition.

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