William Haynes Judicial Confirmation Hearing Begins

As General Counsel of the Department of Defense, William Haynes was a principal architect of policies that led to the abuse of detainees in Guantanamo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush has nominated him for a seat on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold confirmation hearings starting today, July 11th.

Human Rights First has a webpage dedicated to concern about his nomination.

In additon, more than 20 military leaders have written a letter(pdf) opposing his nomination.

More than Twenty retired generals, admirals and other U.S. military leaders signed a letter to Senators Arlen Spector (R-PA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressing concerns over the nomination of William Haynes to the federal bench. "What compels us to take this unusual step is our profound concern about the role Mr. Haynes played in establishing - over the objections of uniformed military lawyers - detention and interrogation policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo which led not only to the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody but to a dangerous abrogation of the military's long-standing commitment to the rule of law," the letter says.

Human Rights First's statement about Haynes is here.

People for the American Way also have a Haynes page and say "Keep Haynes off the bench." He's the "poster boy" for our interrogation policies. See Sen. Edward Kennedy's op-ed in the Washington Post.

Nominations do not get much worse than this. Haynes does not come anywhere close to the commitment to fundamental rights and the principle of separation of powers that we all expect from the federal courts. He would be a poster boy on the 4th Circuit for denying the rule of law, and he should not be confirmed.

TalkLeft's coverage and opposition to Haynes' nomination is here and here.

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    Re: William Haynes Judicial Confirmation Hearing B (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 12:28:23 PM EST
    Here's an extended article from the 2/27/06 New Yorker on Haynes' machinations to make torture happen. Things like, having all the senior JAGs sit down and describe what the policy should be, when Yoo had already written the OLC memo circumventing them and enshrining torture as the rule. It's a long article (it's in the New Yorker, after all), but illuminating. Haynes is yet another Deadeye protege. From the article:
    Haynes rarely discussed his alliance with Cheney's office, but his colleagues, as one of them told me, noticed that "stuff moved back and forth fast" between the two power centers. Haynes was not considered to be a particularly ideological thinker, but he was seen as "pliant," as one former Pentagon colleague put it, when it came to serving the agenda of Cheney and Addington.
    From the same article, here's another nice, timely quote about Geneva, Haynes and Addington:
    Just a few months ago, Mora attended a meeting in Rumsfeld's private conference room at the Pentagon, called by Gordon England, the Deputy Defense Secretary, to discuss a proposed new directive defining the military's detention policy. The civilian Secretaries of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy were present, along with the highest-ranking officers of each service, and some half-dozen military lawyers. Matthew Waxman, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, had proposed making it official Pentagon policy to treat detainees in accordance with Common Article Three of the Geneva conventions, which bars cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, as well as outrages against human dignity.Going around the huge wooden conference table, where the officials sat in double rows, England asked for a consensus on whether the Pentagon should support Waxman's proposal. This standard had been in effect for fifty years, and all members of the U.S. armed services were trained to follow it. One by one, the military officers argued for returning the U.S. to what they called the high ground. But two people opposed it. One was Stephen Cambone, the under-secretary of defense for intelligence; the other was Haynes. They argued that the articulated standard would limit America's "flexibility." It also might expose Administration officials to charges of war crimes: if Common Article Three became the standard for treatment, then it might become a crime to violate it. Their opposition was enough to scuttle the proposal. In exasperation, according to another participant, Mora said that whether the Pentagon enshrined it as official policy or not, the Geneva conventions were already written into both U.S. and international law. Any grave breach of them, at home or abroad, was classified as a war crime. To emphasize his position, he took out a copy of the text of U.S. Code 18.2441, the War Crimes Act, which forbids the violation of Common Article Three, and read from it. The point, Mora told me, was that "it's a statute. It exists--we're not free to disregard it. We're bound by it. It's been adopted by the Congress. And we're not the only interpreters of it. Other nations could have U.S. officials arrested." Not long afterward, Waxman was summoned to a meeting at the White House with David Addington. Waxman declined to comment on the exchange, but, according to the Times, Addington berated him for arguing that the Geneva conventions should set the standard for detainee treatment. The U.S. needed maximum flexibility, Addington said. Since then, efforts to clarify U.S. detention policy have languished. In December, Waxman left the Pentagon for the State Department.
    Yeah, this jerk belongs in a lifetime appointment to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. (my emphasis added)

    Re: William Haynes Judicial Confirmation Hearing B (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 12:37:53 PM EST
    The best part of the generals' and admirals' letter is the very last part of the last question they want posed:
    Do you support the establishment of a special investigative commission, with subpoena power, to determine why the abuse of prisoners by U.S. personnel became so widespread in Afghanistan and Iraq and who bears responsibility for such practices?

    Re: William Haynes Judicial Confirmation Hearing B (none / 0) (#3)
    by soccerdad on Tue Jul 11, 2006 at 01:08:51 PM EST
    Here's some of his environmental work
    Seeking an exemption from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in order to enable the military to resume bombing on a remote Pacific island as part of live-fire training exercises, Haynes prepared a legal brief arguing that even though the island is an important nesting site for such migratory birds as great frigate birds, red-footed boobies and Pacific golden plovers, bird lovers should have no problem with the bombing. Indeed, argued the Haynes brief, conservationists would actually benefit from the destruction of such birds, because it makes the birds rarer - and "bird watchers get more enjoyment spotting a rare bird than they do spotting a common one." Moreover, Haynes noted, the bombing is good for the birds, too - because it keeps the island free of other "human intrusion." Somehow the Haynes logic did not fare well. A federal judge ruled against the military in 2002. The judge's decision included one particularly memorable line: "The Court hopes that the federal government will refrain from making such frivolous arguments in the future." [1]