On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a second hearing on the President’s nomination of Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes II to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Opposition to Haynes, which had already been stiff among Democrats and a few Republicans, has stiffened even more following the Judiciary Committee's receipt of a letter from 20 retired military officers on Monday. The letter expresses “deep concern” over Haynes’ nomination, because the interrogation policies he recommended “rejected long-standing military law grounded in decades of operational expertise, have fostered animosity toward the United States, undermined rather than enhanced our intelligence gathering efforts, and added significantly to the risks facing our troops serving around the world.” At the hearing, despite substantial evidence that he took a lead role in the actual formulation of interrogation policy, Haynes claimed that his role in the process was largely facilitative, rather than substantive. And, if the Senators weren’t buying that, Haynes also pointed out, without a trace of irony, that he had only recommended 24 of the 35 coercive interrogation methods favorably considered by the Haynes-led Defense Department group charged with formulating interrogation policy. Seven of those techniques were not authorized in the Army Field Manual and, as Haynes was forced to concede, now constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment law following passage of the Detainee Treatment Act in December 2005.
When asked about the possibility of a filibuster if the Haynes nomination is voted out of committee, Senator Harry Reid commented that “unless there’s some drastic change, I’m not going to override the views of 20 of our finest.” A filibuster may not be necessary, however, if one or more Republicans on the Judiciary Committee vote with the Democrats to block submission of the nomination to the full Senate Republican Senator and Committee-member Lindsey O. Graham, who is a long-time military lawyer and has strong ties to the Judge Advocates General, went on the record prior to the hearing to express grave doubts about Haynes based on the nominee’s disregard for the opinions of experienced military officials in recommending interrogation protocol. Senator Graham also raised concern over the inequity of promoting civilian Defense Department officials who were involved in “flawed” interrogation policies, while members of the military are faced with serious punishment for their roles in prisoner interrogations. Senator Graham reiterated his concerns during the questioning of Haynes at Tuesday’s hearing.
For more information on the Haynes nomination, check out:
Statement from Senator Patrick Leahy On Haynes
The Washington Post, Charles Lane, “GOP Senator Criticizes Appeals Court Nominee”
The New York Times, Maureen Dowd, “He Let the Dogs Out!” (subscription required)
NPR, Nina Totenberg, “Detainee Questions Trip Federal Court Nominee”