How Did Jim Haynes and Donald Rumsfeld Come to Authorize Torture, Cruel Treatment, and Systematic Violations of the UCMJ?

Slate's blog on legal issues.
June 17 2008 10:37 AM

How Did Jim Haynes and Donald Rumsfeld Come to Authorize Torture, Cruel Treatment, and Systematic Violations of the UCMJ?

In October and early November of 2002, numerous lawyers with the Defense Department advised General Counsel Jim Haynes that the contemplated use of severe "SERE" interrogation techniques would likely violate the torture statute and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The JAGs further advised that the techniques would appear to violate the president's directive that detainees be treated "humanely." (These lawyers were apparently unaware of the, uh, idiosyncratic meaning of the president's and vice president's use fo the word humanely .) Oh, and they also pointedly warned that use of those techniques would undermine the ability to obtain convictions in any future military commission proceedings. (Prescient, weren't they?)

So, what happened next?

Well, Jim Haynes consulted with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, and Gen. Myers, after which,
on Nov. 27, 2002, he opined to Secretary Rumsfeld that all of the proposed techniques " may be legally available ." (Haynes also advised that, for policy reasons, "a blanket approval" of waterboarding and threats of death "is not warranted at this time.")

Note that carefully: Haynes was advised by many lawyers, throughout the Pentagon, that the techniques would be unlawful—after which, without explanation , he informed the secretary that they all "may be legally available"—and recommended approval of some of the most extreme techniques.

How could that possibly have happened?

/blogs/convictions/2008/06/17/how_did_jim_haynes_and_donald_rumsfeld_come_to_authorize_torture_cruel_treatment_and_systematic_violations_of_the_ucmj/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Find out at Balkinization

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.