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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hewitt and Hillyer and Haynes (Oh, My!)

Sometimes their brazenness is impressive. Really impressive. We’re talking about the right-wing blogosphere. Amidst a furious debate on Capitol Hill over the Bush administration’s push to authorize “an alternative set of procedures” to interrogate detainees in CIA custody, what are some of them up in arms about? None other than the reluctance of Senator Lindsey Graham and other Republican leaders to move forward quickly with the nomination of an individual who stood – and still stands – four-square behind the very policies that are the cause of this furious debate. That would be William “Jim” Haynes, II, nominated by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Mr. Haynes not only helped craft the long-repudiated and now-rescinded interrogation policies that led to abuses in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan, he also pressured JAG lawyers as recently as last week to support the administration’s proposal to allow CIA interrogators to revive interrogation techniques that violate the Geneva Conventions.

It’s an election year, you see. And the hard right’s echo chamber has long believed that the issue of judges turns out the conservative base. They’re also worried that any loss of Senate seats could jeopardize, over the final two years of the Bush administration, their continuing effort to stack the courts with judges who share their views. All of which leads them to push even for the confirmation of nominees who have compromised – and would continue to compromise – both our nation’s commitment to basic human rights and the safety of our own troops. Which in their view, of course, means nominees who can help them draw “distinctions” between tough-on-terrorism Republicans and weak-kneed Democrats – something that Lindsey Graham, John Warner, John McCain, Colin Powell, former high-ranking military officials and a growing number of Republican lawmakers have made increasingly difficult in the past week.

The recent push on Haynes has gone so far that uber-conservative blogger Hugh Hewitt is now trying to box in Senator Graham, saying that he committed last week on Hewitt’s show not only to allowing Haynes a floor vote but even to voting in favor of the nuclear option if anyone launches a filibuster. For reasons we laid out already, we don’t see things that way. In fact, what we see is Senator Graham actually clearing the way for others never to confirm Haynes. And believe it or not, notwithstanding how desperately they want to push the judges issue and beat up on those who don’t, even some conservative bloggers are starting to see it that way, too.

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