Sen. Leahy seeks to apply U.S. criminal law to contractors like Blackwater

Leahy said the incident, in which Blackwater contractors shot more than 20 Iraqi civilians, has led to various complications related to efforts to "hold the wrongdoers in this case accountable." While the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) has been amended recently, it does not cover contractors like those from Blackwater.

"Had jurisdiction in the tragic Blackwater incident been clear, FBI agents likely would have been on the scene immediately, which could well have prevented some of the problems that have plagued the case," he said.

Leahy added that Blackwater was not an isolated incident, stating that other private security contractors have been involved in "violent incidents and serious misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan." He said as military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, MEJA will not cover the thousands of contractors who stay in these countries.

"The legislation I introduce today fills this gap," he said, adding that the bill, S. 1145, is "carefully crafted" to allow intelligence activities to continue "unimpeded."