What Changes Did Obama Just Make to Courts Martial?

In 30 days, changes to Part II (Rules) and IV (Punitive Articles) of the Courts Martial Manual will go into effect. Only, we don’t know what those changes are because the annex that describes them appears to be classified.

All we get is this Executive Order noting the change–and explaining that nothing in yesterday’s order affects acts or legal actions that took place before the EO goes into effect in 30 days.

(a) Nothing in these amendments shall be construed to make punishable any act done or omitted prior to the effective date of this order that was not punishable when done or omitted.

(b) Nothing in these amendments shall be construed to invalidate any nonjudicial punishment proceedings, restraint, investigation, referral of charges, trial in which arraignment occurred, or other action begun prior to the effective date of this order, and any such nonjudicial punishment, restraint, investigation, referral of charges, trial, or other action may proceed in the same manner and with the same effect as if these amendments had not been prescribed.

I’m particularly interested in this because of two recent high profile events: the Nidal Hasan attack–the report on which DOD just released–and Bradley Manning’s arrest. Both might precipitate some changes in the handling of courts martial, charges, and the handing of charges.

But it’s not clear how.

  1. artguerrilla says:

    1. i have been flogging this pet hobbyhorse to death since i first heard of it: so-called ‘executive signing statements’ (um, just *where*is that in the ever-so-quaint constitution, or, well, ANYWHERE?) are about as undemocratic as you can get; smells, walks, quacks, and poops like its unconstitutional, too…
    WHY this isn’t a huge deal in a purported democracy is simply staggering to me…
    (regardless of whether it is evil boy king george, or saint obama…)
    2. and to top it off: SECRET exec signing statements ?! !? again, how we can have any SECRET laws, policies, etc in a supposed frei und open democracy is simply incomprehensible… but then, SECRET exec signing statements, to boot ? ? ?
    pen me in a free speech zone and call me sheeple…
    *that* is amerika…
    3. remember: teabaggies are more varied than you think, and MANY of them are outraged at these types of aconstitutional machinations just as good widdle pwogs are (or should be, ass sunstein, i’m farting at you!); we DO have common cause:
    90% of us agree on
    90% of the ‘stuff’
    90% of the time,
    i strongly believe that…
    however, our betters control the korporate media/kultur which effectively divides all us ‘outs’ so we don’t unite in our common cause against the ‘ins’…
    now that korporations have finalized their stature as super-duper-uber citizens -immortal, immoral, and immutable- all avenues of ‘legal’, ‘by the books’, ‘working in the system’ methods of changing the system EVEN MARGINALLY, have been, are, and will be doomed to failure…
    given an untrustworthy, unauditable, corrupted electoral system, us 90-99% at the bottom of the food chain have exhausted all means of influencing or changing the policies and actions of ‘our’ (sic) gummint…
    not to go full bull goose teabaggy, but this is one of the stirring passages from one of our originating documents:
    “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security”
    how many votes would this document, the very sentiments, these seditious words get in today’s kongress ? ? ?
    10-20 ? ? ?
    what brave leaders, what moral giants…
    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    [email protected]

  2. Mason says:

    Crimes are defined by statute. They consist of a prohibited act or causing a particular result (e.g., as in causing the death of another) committed with a particular mental state. One of the most basic principles of criminal law is a notice requirement: People cannot be prosecuted for committing a crime unless they have notice of what constitutes the crime. Therefore, new criminal statutes have to be reported or published by the media together with notice regarding when the new statute goes into effect. We saw that procedure followed in AZ with SB 1070, for example.

    I don’t know WTF is going on with this super duper top secret new court martial offense and related procedural rule, but I’ve never heard of classifying such matters as secret and I cannot imagine a legitimate basis for such a classification.

    Anyone subjected to a court martial for violating a secret rule has an automatic defense based on lack of notice both as to the offense itself and the accusation.

    Sounds like yet another example of the constitutional law scholar’s eleventy dimensional opacity bullshit.

  3. Garrett says:

    This is about the same boilerplate language as George Bush’s last big update, which had the changes in an annex:

    Executive Order: 2008 Amendments to the Manual for Courts Martial, United States

    Previous to that, it looks like the amendments were put in the executive order itself:

    Executive Order: 2005 Amendments to the Manual for Courts Martial, United States

    DOD published proposed amendments in January, to Part III (Rules of Evidence), and Part IV (Punitive Articles).

    DOD describes what looks like a hybrid rulemaking/executive order process:

    The proposed recommended amendments to the Manual for Courts-
    Martial to be forwarded through the DoD for action by Executive Order
    of the President of the United States are as follows

  4. freepatriot says:

    who’s Bradley Manning

    whadimiss ???

    and about the Nidal Hasan attack report, which DOD just released, have you found the flaws yet ???

    jes askin is all

    (duck & runnin)

    • bmaz says:

      Pretty demanding for someone who has failed to deliver the specified hubcaps…..

      May have to consider bringing JodiDog back to deal with such insolence.