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News Summary: Focus on overseas contractors

The Associated Press

OVER THERE: With thousands of civilian contractors remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan, Justice Department officials want Congress to resolve a legal issue they say obstructs efforts to prosecute any such workers who rape, kill or commit other serious crimes abroad.

OUT OF REACH: Scofflaw Pentagon employees and contractors supporting the American war mission overseas are subject to federal prosecution in the U.S., but a nonmilitary contractor who breaks the law may fall outside the Justice Department's jurisdiction.

HURDLES: Previous attempts to close the gap have stalled amid debate over who should be shielded from prosecution and under what circumstances. The House bill didn't get out of committee last session, though similar legislation passed the chamber several years ago. The Senate bill cleared the Judiciary Committee but never reached the floor, tied up in part by uncertainty over how to protect certain contractors and employees, including intelligence agents and law enforcement officials, whose jobs might require them to skirt the law.