Read time: 5 minutes

Tapped

AG REPORT Tapped Spencer Ackerman has an article out on recently released documents that give us the military's lawyer's view of U.S. interrogation p

AG REPORT Tapped
Spencer Ackerman has an article out on recently released documents that give us the military's lawyer's view of U.S. interrogation policy:

The JAGs were commenting on the report of a Pentagon working group, convened in January 2003, to review interrogation policy changes. But a common theme in their memos is the concern that the legal rationales employed by the working group were imported wholesale from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)--whose writing on the question of torture was memorably described by Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as "perhaps the most clearly legally erroneous opinion I have ever read." (What the Justice Department lawyers actually gave to the Defense Department remains, inexplicably, classified, despite months of congressional demands.)

Major General Thomas Romig, the Army JAG, essentially concurred. He denounced OLC's central contention--that any law restricting the president's ability to wage war is unconstitutional--writing caustically: "I question whether this theory would ultimately prevail in either the U.S. courts or in any international forum. ... This view runs contrary to the historic position taken by the United States Government concerning such laws and, in our opinion, could adversely impact DOD interests worldwide."

Brigadier General Kevin Sandkuhler, the Marine JAG, was more specific about how adopting OLC's argument would harm the military:

Spencer Ackerman has an article out on recently released documents that give us the military's lawyer's view of U.S. interrogation policy:

The JAGs were commenting on the report of a Pentagon working group, convened in January 2003, to review interrogation policy changes. But a common theme in their memos is the concern that the legal rationales employed by the working group were imported wholesale from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)--whose writing on the question of torture was memorably described by Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as "perhaps the most clearly legally erroneous opinion I have ever read." (What the Justice Department lawyers actually gave to the Defense Department remains, inexplicably, classified, despite months of congressional demands.)

Major General Thomas Romig, the Army JAG, essentially concurred. He denounced OLC's central contention--that any law restricting the president's ability to wage war is unconstitutional--writing caustically: "I question whether this theory would ultimately prevail in either the U.S. courts or in any international forum. ... This view runs contrary to the historic position taken by the United States Government concerning such laws and, in our opinion, could adversely impact DOD interests worldwide."

Brigadier General Kevin Sandkuhler, the Marine JAG, was more specific about how adopting OLC's argument would harm the military: "Comprehensive protection is lacking for DOD personnel who may be tried by other nations and/or international bodies for violations of international law."

"U.S. Armed Forces are continuously trained to take the legal and moral 'high road' in the conduct of our military operations regardless of how others may operate," wrote the Air Force's deputy JAG, Major General Jack Rives. "Approving exceptional interrogation techniques may be seen as giving official approval and legal sanction to the application of interrogation techniques that U.S. Armed Forces have heretofore been trained are unlawful." Sandkuhler starkly warned about a breakdown in uniformed "pride, discipline and self-respect."

You can see the memos themselves here and Marty Lederman has further commentary on the subject.

Th "Comprehensive protection is lacking for DOD personnel who may be tried by other nations and/or international bodies for violations of international law."

"U.S. Armed Forces are continuously trained to take the legal and moral 'high road' in the conduct of our military operations regardless of how others may operate," wrote the Air Force's deputy JAG, Major General Jack Rives. "Approving exceptional interrogation techniques may be seen as giving official approval and legal sanction to the application of interrogation techniques that U.S. Armed Forces have heretofore been trained are unlawful." Sandkuhler starkly warned about a breakdown in uniformed "pride, discipline and self-respect."

You can see the memos themselves here and Marty Lederman has further commentary on the subject.

Th. They are written by JAGs from the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines. As Senator Graham put it on Monday, these folks "are not from the ACLU. These are not from people who are soft on terrorism, who want to coddle foreign terrorists. These are all professional military lawyers who have dedicated their lives, with 20-plus year careers, to serving the men and women in uniform and protecting their Nation. They were giving a warning shot across the bow of the policymakers that there are certain corners you cannot afford to cut because you will wind up meeting yourself."

It is fair to say that these accounts reflected sustained, uniform and passionate opposition to the OLC legal theories that were being foisted upon the military. Indeed, the tone of the memos is one of barely concealed incredulity, and outrage--disbelief--that a young legal academic from DOJ could sweep right in and so quickly overturn decades of carefully wrought military policy, using legal analysis that almost certainly would not withstand scrutiny outside the Administration and around the world. ...


Department of "Huh?"
Brad DeLong
The U.S. government doesn't already offer protection to foreign diplomats in Iraq? Why not?
WSJ.com - U.S. May Offer Protection To Foreign Diplomats in Iraqe memos are extraordinary. They are written by JAGs from the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines. As Senator Graham put it on Monday, these folks "are not from the ACLU. These are not from people who are soft on terrorism, who want to coddle foreign terrorists. These are all professional military lawyers who have dedicated their lives, with 20-plus year careers, to serving the men and women in uniform and protecting their Nation. They were giving a warning shot across the bow of the policymakers that there are certain corners you cannot afford to cut because you will wind up meeting yourself."

It is fair to say that these accounts reflected sustained, uniform and passionate opposition to the OLC legal theories that were being foisted upon the military. Indeed, the tone of the memos is one of barely concealed incredulity, and outrage--disbelief--that a young legal academic from DOJ could sweep right in and so quickly overturn decades of carefully wrought military policy, using legal analysis that almost certainly would not withstand scrutiny outside the Administration and around the world. ...

Can you help us out?

For 16 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit. We work 7 days a week, 16 hours a day for our labor of love, but with rising hosting and associated costs, we need your help! Could you donate $20 for 2020? Please consider a one time or recurring donation of whatever amount you can spare, or consider subscribing for an ad-free experience. It will be greatly appreciated and help us continue our mission of exposing the real FAKE NEWS!

More C&L Coverage

Comments

NOTE: We will be changing to a new commenting platform in the next couple of weeks. We will supply more details as we get closer to the change. We understand some users are having problems with comments loading and this will hopefully remedy that problem

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.