An attempt within the Pentagon to gain control over promotion of military judge advocates general lawyers has run into a furious roadblock in Congress with Republicans joining with Democratic members to halt this latest effort by the Bush administration to ensure military personnel do as ordered. Under the proposed plan, military promotions of members of JAG would have to be “coordinated” with civilian counsels working in the Pentagon. For promotion to flag and general officer rank, there would have to be consultation with the Defense Department general counsel. Republican Rep. Steve Byer commented “this is one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard come out of the DoD general counsel. It is dead on arrival. If they enact the policy, and it appears they can, I promise we will stop it.”
Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice said the proposal was an attempt to stifle military lawyers who have criticized Bush administration policies on torture and the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who once served as a military lawyer feared it would make military lawyers “looking over their shoulders” when engaged in the process of defending their clients. There is no question this end run of Bush has been halted at the beginning but it again demonstrates the president’s lack of understanding regarding the rights of those who disagree with his views on policy.