An amendment to a spending bill has made it possible for US civilians to be charged in a military court. The last minute addition to the bill was sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham. The bill has been signed into law by the president.

Under the new arrangements civilian government employees and journalists can be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Previously this could only be done during a declared war. The law is likely to face constitutional challenge.

Senator Graham said, "Right now, you have two different standards for people doing the same job. This will bring uniformity to the commander's ability to control the behavior of people representing our country."

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