The case for confirming Jim Haynes

This Washington Times editorial urges the Senate to confirm Jim Haynes. The Times responds to the concerns raised by Senator Graham in this way:

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a former judge advocate general (JAG). . .has publicly worried that General Counsel Haynes may not have given due and prompt consideration to objections about prisoner-interrogation methods raised by JAGs when the Department of Defense was establishing procedures for the global war on terror. In fact, a close reading of the record confirms that Mr. Haynes responded quickly and favorably in late 2002 and early 2003 to the very concerns raised by the JAGs, according to a July 2004 summary memo providing a chronological account. The memo was prepared in July 2004 by Alberto J. Mora, who served as the general counsel of the U.S. Navy throughout the period in question.

The Mora memo reveals that JAGs had expressed serious reservations over the “coercive interrogation” methods authorized by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in December 2002. Mr. Mora himself met with Mr. Haynes during December 2002 and early January 2003. Later that month, i.e., within about 40 days from when the questionable procedures were authorized, the Mora memo reports that “Mr. Haynes said that sec Rumsfeld would be suspending the authority to apply the techniques that same day.” Mr. Mora concluded his memo by reporting that, to his knowledge, “all interrogation techniques authorized for use in Guantanamo after Jan. 15 fell within the boundaries authorized by law,” representing “a happy culmination of the long debates in the Pentagon.”

Quin Hillyer at the American Spectator also defends Haynes’ record on detainee interrogation as follows:

When Justice officials drew up a memo listing 35 types of possible interrogation techniques, all of which Justice found to be legally allowable, Captain Haynes established broad-based “working groups” to analyze not just the legality but the wisdom and morality of using those techniques. Eventually, Haynes recommended, and Secretary Donald Rumsfeld agreed, that 11 of those techniques be rejected. Of the remaining 24, 17 were already approved under the Geneva Conventions.

And as Haynes described it, “The additional seven were highly regulated, two of which, arguably, were restatements of one or two of the 17 basic techniques.” Those extra seven were approved only for use with the terrorist combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay. And not a single one of those 24 techniques involves anything like “torture” as the word is commonly used: no infliction of pain or severe emotional degradation.

One result of the approved techniques was that interrogators finally were able to secure useful information from so-called “20th hijacker” Muhammad al Katani, information which almost certainly saved lives.

The record is unambiguous — Haynes conscientiously balanced the nation’s desperate need for information and its desire to treat detainees humanely. One need not agree with every call Haynes made to salute his efforts. And one need not salute his efforts to recognize that, at a minimum, they should not disqualify him from a federal judgeship.

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