- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2006

The Bush administration’s policy toward detained terrorism suspects has caused the president’s nominee for a federal judgeship in Virginia to face tough questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Pentagon General Counsel William J. Haynes II, nominated to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, testified at his confirmation hearing last week that military lawyers, known as judge advocates general (JAGs), had seen the administration’s policy that Mr. Haynes helped craft regarding permissible interrogation techniques.

But Mr. Haynes now has written a letter to Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, seeking to clarify apparent contradictions between his testimony before Mr. Specter’s panel and the testimony of Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives, the top Air Force JAG, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing two days later.

“I saw the April 2003 report about 14 months after it was issued,” Gen. Rives said. “No one in the Air Force JAG had seen it before then, to my knowledge.”

In a letter Saturday to Mr. Specter, obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. Haynes acknowledged that Gen. Rives had not seen the final product before it was issued.

“He notes that while he did not see the signed April 2003 report until June 2004, he had seen earlier versions of the report, specifically those dated 4 February 2003 and early March 2003,” Mr. Haynes wrote.

But, Mr. Haynes said, Gen. Rives has shared with him “additional facts that are very important.”

“Most critically, on the matters important to him and possibly on all matters, General Rives advises me that the April 2003 report is substantially similar if not identical to the early March 2003 report that he reviewed,” Mr. Haynes wrote. “In sum, General Rives agrees that my testimony is accurate.”

The issue has been raised most forcefully by Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican and former JAG, who says the administration’s interrogation policies — since repudiated by the administration — caused confusion among troops and contributed to the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Mr. Graham has implied that Mr. Haynes and other Pentagon lawyers working at the behest of the White House insisted on the vague and liberal interrogation policies over the objections of career military lawyers who worried that they could lead to inhumane treatment of detainees.

In his letter to Mr. Specter, Mr. Haynes reiterated his contention that the “working group” that wrote the policies contributed equally to the final product. Mr. Haynes closed his letter by telling Mr. Specter that Gen. Rives “has reviewed this letter and he agrees with this account in its entirety.”

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