Saturday, September 16, 2006

Allegation Of Administration Pressure On JAGs

Only a few weeks ago the commanders of the Judge Advocate General Corps of each of the military services made statements in a congressional hearing that the proposed loosening of Geneva Convention protections urged by the White House would be a bad idea.

Now, they have changed their tune to some extent and have signed a letter saying that they "do not object" to such changes.

Someone got to these officers, and some Democratic lawmakers want to find out who.

Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) called for a Judiciary Committee investigation into whether military judge advocates general were pressured into writing a letter this week saying they "do not object" to two sensitive parts of the administration's legislation.

Officials who attended the meeting in question, in the office of Pentagon general counsel William J. Haynes II on Wednesday, said there was no pressure on the military lawyers to produce the letter, describing a robust discussion about how to word its contents. The lawyers initially drafted a letter saying they "support" the two sections but later settled on saying they "do not object" to them.

"None of us would have signed anything if we had not believed it and absolutely agreed with it," Col. Ronald M. Reed, counsel to the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said yesterday. "The discussion was nothing out of the ordinary."

But late yesterday, Maj. Gen. Scott C. Black, the Army's judge advocate general, sent a new letter to McCain and other senators, saying "further redefinition" of the conventions "is unnecessary and could be seen as a weakening of our treaty obligations, rather than a reinforcement of the standards of treatment."

The New York Times has come out today with an article on the JAG letter skullduggery.

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