Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bushies seek to muzzle critical military lawyers: speak nice or forget about promotions

"Bush Assails the JAG Corps" by Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine):

The Boston Globe by way of Harpers:

"The Bush Administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism. The administration has proposed a regulation requiring “coordination” with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps—the military’s 4,000-member uniformed legal force—can be promoted.

"A Pentagon spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reasoning behind the proposed regulations. But the requirement of coordination—which many former JAGs say would give the administration veto power over any JAG promotion or appointment—is consistent with past administration efforts to impose greater control over the military lawyers. The former JAG officers say the regulation would end the uniformed lawyers’ role as a check-and-balance on presidential power, because politically appointed lawyers could block the promotion of JAGs who they believe would speak up if they think a White House policy is illegal.

"Retired Major General Thomas Romig, the Army’s top JAG from 2001 to 2005, called the proposal an attempt “to control the military JAGs” by sending a message that if they want to be promoted, they should be “team players” who “bow to their political masters on legal advice.” It “would certainly have a chilling effect on the JAGs’ advice to commanders,” Romig said. “The implication is clear: without [the administration’s] approval the officer will not be promoted.”

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