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In an article entitled Pentagon Lawyers Warn Against Evidence Limits the New York Times is reporting that Army lawyers testified today in direct oposition to President Bush's proposed tribunal system for trying prisoners.

The Pentagon's top uniformed lawyers took issue Thursday with a key part of a White House plan to prosecute terrorism detainees, telling Congress that limiting the suspects' access to evidence could violate treaty obligations.

more. . .

Remember, these are not former military officials freed from the requirements of chain-of-command by their retirement.  These are currently serving military officers including the current, active Judge Advocate General of the Army, Major General Scott Black.  Testifying, in public, against the policy proposed by the President.

Responding to a question posed by Duncan Hunter, Republican head of the House Armed Service Committee:

Hunter presented the military lawyers with various scenarios in which it might be necessary to withhold evidence from the accused if it would expose classified information. But the service's top lawyers said other alternatives must be explored -- or the case dropped.

''I believe the accused should see that evidence,'' said Maj. Gen. Scott Black, the Army's Judge Advocate General.

A key aspect of the Republican Bunglocracy to this point has been their ability to coopt or suppress dissent from within their ranks.  We've seen this with the past silence from within the military and from the degredation of public figures such as Colin Powell and John McCain, forced to swallow their better instincts in support of the mad policies of the Maladministration.

I don't know how much, if any, pressure these lawyers may have been under to stick to the Bush script.  I for one salute them for placing the law above politics and, possibly, above the advancement of their military careers.

Originally posted to LarryInNYC on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 02:51 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Nice. (9+ / 0-)

    Highly recommended, this is something everyone should see.

    We're oft to blame--in this tis too much proved--that with devotion's visage and pious action we do sugar o'er the devil himself.

    by TheBlaz on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 02:41:29 PM PDT

  •  I salute them as well (17+ / 0-)

    They are the very definition of patriotism.  For anyone wanting to catch up on background, 60 Minutes did an excellent piece on the tribunals and brave military lawyers who criticized them last year:

    Even though the military order prohibits any appeal to an outside court, Swift filed a historic lawsuit against President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, saying the commissions are illegal.

    "You disobeyed your commander-in-chief," says Bradley.

    "Yeah, I did," says Swift. "But I didn't do so lightly. I did it because there was no other choice."

    Heroes, all.
  •  Congress ignores this advice (5+ / 0-)

    at their own risk. The Supreme Court will simply find the new trials unconstitutional and/or illegal again, and any legitimate prosecution of terrorist suspects will have to start again... But watch that idiot Hunter pass it out as is...

    When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail. -Pearl S. Buck

    by Voxbear on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 02:42:53 PM PDT

  •  Reco'd. (6+ / 0-)

    Many serving this country have distinguished themselves by their courage in standing up against the powers currently seeking to destroy our way of life.

  •  Not just Army - all branches (8+ / 0-)

    JAG in all branches has been pushing on this.  

    I'm sure they have horrible pressure.  Especially since Haynes, Pentagon Counsel, is in Cheney's pocket, a buddy of Addington, directly fighting the uniformed lawyers, and through the Attorney Gen's office the Administration has been having DOJ shoot JAG in the back as JAG turns to fight the real battle.

    When Haynes isn't attacking the uniformed lawyers in Pentagon (he, Cheney and Addington have tried to crater JAG before, including during prior administrations), he's campaigning on his nomination to the fourth circuit court of appeals.  

    I'd say the JAG lawyers have much more than just "a little" pressure on them.  

    Pretty incredible, watching them refuse to kiss the ring.  

  •  General Black deserves a medal (12+ / 0-)

    I have seldom been more proud of our military than when Major General Scott Black told Duncan Hunter (R)CA, that an accused terrorist should have access to all evidence against him, or the charges should be dropped.

    “Some of these acts of complicity in terrorist acts are very small pieces . . . and you don’t have a lot of evidence,” he said. The chairman repeated a scenario where the only piece of evidence would expose the identity of a secret agent and asked whether it would make sense to drop the case entirely.

    “You get to the end of the trail, then yes sir, you do,” Black responded.

    In my view the General exhibited unusual courage to go against the Bush Administration's attempt to circumvent the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions and other treaty commitments.  Now don’t get me wrong, if guilty, I hope these terrorists get what they deserve.  My objection is basically that we do not have to trash the Constitution and our civil rights to win the war on terror, or for any reason.  When our Constitution is gone, the terrorists have won and the American people have lost.  Several Republican Senators, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Warner, have expressed opposition to some of the specifics of the proposal for trying accused terrorists, as outlined by Bush yesterday.  Also, as Senator Harry Reid stated.

    The last thing we need is a repeat of the arrogant, go-it-alone behavior that has jeopardized and delayed efforts to bring these terrorists to justice for five years

    I suspect the Bush administration is going to regret the President’s speech.  Not only are his proposals running into hot water in the Congress and in the military, but now the European Union is outraged to find out that indeed, the rumors of secret prisons and extraorinary rendition are true.  It is also interesting that coincident with all of this, Briton’s Labor Party, has evidently had all they can take of Blair’s love relationship with the President, and are pressuring him to resign.  If Bush had any decency, he would resign also.

    •  Brig. Gen. Walker deserves one, too! (8+ / 0-)

      He didn't mention the comparison to Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in so many words, but he came close:

      "I'm not aware of any situation in the world where there is a system of jurisprudence that is recognized by civilized people where an individual can be tried and convicted without seeing the evidence against him," said Brig. Gen. James Walker, U.S. Marine Corps staff judge advocate.

      "I don't think the United States needs to become the first in that scenario," he said.

      Here's a link to the Reuters article, which contains Brig. Gen. Walker's comment:

    •  Black Brought a Tear to My Eye (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie, kurt, RosyFinch

      that one line, alone, by itself, is what the rule of law means.

      It is what western society has been built on, it was the reason for the Magna Carta, it ios what stands between the violent, the arrogant the stupid, the corrupt and all the rest of us.

      It should be cast in bronze and bolted to every Government building in the fucking world.

      “You get to the end of the trail, then yes sir, you do,”

      Every human being who has fought, suffered and died for justice and equity in the world, can rest in peace while there are people like Black doing the job he is paid to do and is sworn to uphold.

      “You get to the end of the trail, then yes sir, you do,”

      The Number of the Beast 72-25

      by Deep Dark on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 04:20:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You beat me to it (9+ / 0-)

    I was just going to post a diary on this myself.  NPR was just giving pretty extensive coverage to it.  The JAG lawyers have consistently been profiles in courage in this area.  I used to work pretty closely with JAG officers on civil cases, and there isn't a law firm or government legal office with which I've ever dealt whose integrity I would rate any more highly than that of the JAG officers.  But are the majority of the Republicans impressed with what they say?  Apparently not.

    Duncan Hunter actually had the temerity to argue with the chief JAG officers about their position.  After being told that the accused should be able to see the evidence being used against them, the following exchange took place:

    But Hunter suggested that such a requirement could hamper prosecutions.

    ''Some of these acts of complicity in terrorist acts are very small pieces . . . and you don't have a lot of evidence,'' he said. The chairman repeated a scenario where the only piece of evidence would expose the identity of a secret agent and asked whether it would make sense to drop the case entirely.

    ''You get to the end of the trail, then yes sir, you do,'' Black responded.

    Frist says he wants a Senate vote on the administration proposal by the end of the month, and will probably decide tomorrow exactly when to schedule it, while John Boehner has annouced that there will be a vote on it in the House during the week of September 18.

    The most ominous thing in the article is that Frist is apparently prepared to bring the Bush bill directly to the floor of the Senate, and bypass the Senate Armed Services Committee, which it probably couldn't get through because of the opposition of Warner, McCain, and Graham:

    A leadership aide said Warner, McCain and Graham were given ''24 hours to think their position over,'' indicating a possibility the bill could be routed around the Armed Services Committee and placed directly on the Senate floor.

    •  woah... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      buckhorn okie

      Warner, McCain, and Graham are three key votes.

      "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

      by kredwyn on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 03:06:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd say (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        buckhorn okie, kredwyn, vbelinsk, kurt

        2 of the 3 votes are sure votes against the bill: Warner & Graham.  

        Warner is 80 and doesn't take much guff; he was unwilling to support Ollie North when North unsuccessfully ran for the Senate as the Republican candidate in Virginia.  Warner endorsed Marshall Coleman, a Republican who ran as an independent, instead of North.  Plus he survived a marriage to Liz Taylor.  That's got to count for something :-)

        Graham has JAG experience during the Gulf War.  He's very supportive of JAGs.

        I'm betting $20 McCain flips like a coin and leaves Warner & Graham in the lurch.

        Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

        by mini mum on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 03:56:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Military lawyers have been saying this all along (5+ / 0-)

    Numerous "off the record" reports have surfaced of military lawyers taking this position with the Administration, only to be ignored.  This is just the first time they are saying it publicly, for attribution.

    Military lawyers take concepts of due process very seriously.  They know that ignoring them here does nothing but endanger our troops and undermine the very things they've sworn to protect.

    Sometimes you cover your ass with the lame excuses you have, not the lame excuses you wish for.

    by litigatormom on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 03:41:37 PM PDT


    This diary belongs on the recomended list (at the top of it, in my opinion).  There are several reasons I say that:

    1. The chief JAG lawyers of the various services simply deserve to be commended for their courage.
    1. The issue of whether this nation is going to try people on the basis of secret evidence that they never get to see is an extremely critical one in deciding whether we continue to be a nation devoted to the rule of law, the most fundamental tenet of which is due process (including not being tried on secret evidence that the accused never gets to see or hear), or whether we're going to join the ranks of states such as Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union, where trying cases involving national security on the basis of evidence the accused never got to see was an acceptable practice.
    1. The JAG lawyers have given enormous political cover to anyone in Congress who wants to oppose the President's effort to abolish due process.  Bringing these latest guys to Gitmo and proposing to try them on the basis of obviously unfair procedures is a transparent political ploy to try to force Democrats to oppose it in advance of the election, following which Bush and his minions would spend the next month excoriating Democrats for being "soft on terror" and "sympathetic to terrorists," and "unworthy of being trusted on national security," and "too dangerous to put in control."  But now, anybody who opposes the administration's plans can say that they simply agree with the chief JAG officers of the various services.  That should give some backbone to people who might otherwise lack one.
  •  The Military Lawyers (6+ / 0-)

    have been exemplary.

    Michael Mori, the guy defending Australian david Hicks has stood his ground at every stage, standing up for the constitution and the rule of law and unloading on the government in the bluntest of terms.

    These guys get it.

    Its a fucking disgrace that so many civilians, whose carreres and lives are not at risk, don't.

    The Number of the Beast 72-25

    by Deep Dark on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 04:13:46 PM PDT

    •  It certainly is! (5+ / 0-)

      I've said it here before, but I'll say it again.  I spent 15 years in the Civil Division of DOJ, and the first time I stood up in court to introduce myself as representing the United States was the proudest day of my legal career.  However, I never imagined that I would ever hear DOJ lawyers defending in court the right of the President or his designees to arrest an American citizen on American soil and hold that citizen incommunicado, without any right to counsel, any right to judicial review, or any right either to be charged with a crime or released, for as long as the President or his designees in their unreviewable discretion decide to hold that citizen.  Yet that's exactly what DOJ lawyers did in the Padilla case.

      I think they would literally have had to kill me and still not gotten me to make such an argument, but at an absolute minimum, I would have resigned very noisily before doing it.  And yet, to the best of my knowledge, not a single lawyer in DOJ resigned over it -- and CERTAINLY, none of them resigned with any public complaints about the gross unconstitutionality of the argument that was being made.  The contrast between the courage and sensitivity to due process exhibited by the JAG lawyers, and the lack of those things by the DOJ and White House lawyers who have been involved in these issues, could not be any more stark.  And that contrast should be a source of shame to every lawyer in DOJ.

  •  Yippee (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie

    More voices joining the chorus.  I love to hear this.  We are in the majority, and it will eventually be impossible to drown out all of our voices.

  •  I think this also speaks to a larger divide (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie

    I think the men in uniforms have had it with their craptacular civilian bosses. They view this whole thing as a political stunt and are (intentionally or not) giving cover for Dems to oppose Bush.

  •  "Mutiny" is a strong word. . . (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, kurt

    . . . and not accurate at all in this instance.

    These lawyers have not been ordered, nor could they be (legally), to give less than their true opinion to the Congress.

    Hooray that they have a well-founded legal opinion, and have stated it loudly and fully.

    But please, "mutiny" is right up there "treason". The military are fulfilling their duty, not refusing it.

    The "everywhere" that flattery will get you is a stark and terrible place. - James Ernest

    by Robespierrette on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 04:28:27 PM PDT

    •  You must have a snappy title (0+ / 0-)

      Mutiny is a strong word in the legal sense.  However, here, it is obviously meant generally, as in, refusing to go along with your superiors when they are wrong.

      On the other hand, treason is always a strong word and seems applicable to me for those that subvert the Constitution for polical means, such as the Bushites.

      •  You do indeed (0+ / 0-)

        But unfortunately, even with the attention-grabbing title, this extremely important diary never made the recommended list, and has now scrolled off the recent diaries list.  Important as I think the diaries about the "The Path to 9/11" are, it's difficult for me to believe that there are FIVE such diaries that are more important than this one.

  •  Thanks so much (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maxschell, buckhorn okie, leevank, kurt

    My Dad was a military judge when he was in the USAF, and this is really important to the integrity of our military, to say nothing about the honor of this nation.

    After the Rapture, we'll get all their stuff! Hummingbird's Blog

    by Hummingbird on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 04:42:56 PM PDT

  •  It is sad-making (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    buckhorn okie, kurt, RosyFinch

    that people have to be commended for bravery for upholding the rule of law.A sorry state of affairs if you ask me,not that anybody did.

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