By Charlie Savage
December 15, 2007
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.
The administration has proposed a regulation requiring “coordination” with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps – the military’s 4,000-member uniformed legal force – can be promoted.
A Pentagon spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reasoning behind the proposed regulations. But the requirement of coordination – which many former JAGs say would give the administration veto power over any JAG promotion or appointment – is consistent with past administration efforts to impose greater control over the military lawyers.
The former JAG officers say the regulation would end the uniformed lawyers’ role as a check-and-balance on presidential power, because politically appointed lawyers could block the promotion of JAGs who they believe would speak up if they think a White House policy is illegal.
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