Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Real American Heroes

Marty Lederman has a long post, “The Heroes of the Pentagon’s Interrogation Scandal — Finally, the JAG Memos” about the Judge Advocate Generals of the Armed Forces, who took a stand against the President’s position that the United States could behave as it has at Guantanamo and elsewhere:

The 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.”

These memos reveal the JAGs as the real heroes of this story. Indeed, it’s uncanny how prescient these memos were. As Senator Graham said on Monday, “the JAGS were telling the policymakers: If you go down this road, you are going to get your own people in trouble. You are on a slippery slope. You are going to lose the moral high ground. This was 2003. And they were absolutely right.”

Lederman also posts the memos themselves at “The JAG Memos on Military Interrogation and OLC’s Legal Analysis:” Topics include the morale effects on American soldiers, the gratuitous nature of some techniques, and the public relations backlash over what has been done.

2. (U) Should any information concerning the exceptional techniques become public, it is likely to be exaggerated/distorted in both the U.S. and international media. This could have a negative impact on international, and perhaps even domestic, support for the war on terrorism. It could likewise have a negative impact on public perception of the U.S. military in general.

Major General, USAF,
Deputy Judge Advocate General.

These men deserve medals and commendations for their foresight, courage, and commitment.

In related news, Guantanamo prosecutors have come forth to admit that their prosecutions were rigged. See “Two Prosecutors Faulted Trials for Detainees,” in the New York Times:

The second officer, Maj. Robert Preston, also of the Air Force, said in a March 11, 2004, message to another senior officer in the prosecutor’s office that he could not in good conscience write a legal motion saying the proceedings would be “full and fair” when he knew they would not.

(Via Michael Froomkin.)

I’d say more, but the professionalism and dedication of these men and women speaks for itself.