Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Haynes hearing

Here are articles on yesterday's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of William J. Haynes, II, to the Fourth Circuit:

Raymond Hernandez, New York Times, Bush Nominee Tries to Calm Torture Furor

"The hearing came a day after 20 retired military officers sent the Judiciary Committee a letter saying that they had 'deep concern' about Mr. Haynes’s fitness to be a federal judge because of his role in approving coercive techniques to interrogate terror suspects.

Speaking to reporters, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, indicated that the letter had deeply influenced his thinking, declaring that the letter 'says it all' about Mr. Haynes.

Mr. Reid signaled that the nomination was in serious trouble, though he did not say Democrats would try a filibuster if it came before the full Senate for a vote. Sixty votes are needed to end a filibuster....

The controversy over the nomination of Mr. Haynes stems from memorandums he wrote or supervised that secretly authorized harsh treatment, even torture, for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in Iraq.

In the hearing, Mr. Haynes distanced himself from the so-called Bybee memorandum, which narrowly defined torture and asserted that a president could ignore prohibitions against it in the name of national security.

The memorandum, which has been disavowed by the Bush administration, was written in 2002 by Jay S. Bybee, a Justice Department official who has since become a federal appeals court judge. It had not been publicly disclosed when Mr. Haynes was first questioned by the Judiciary Committee in 2003."

Charles Lane, Washington Post, GOP Senator Criticizes Appeals Court Nominee

"A key Senate Republican clashed yesterday with President Bush's pick for a federal appeals court, taking aim at the nominee's past support for harsh interrogation methods at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

At a Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) said that Pentagon General Counsel William J. Haynes II had pushed for the tactics over the objections of top uniformed military lawyers who considered the policy process a 'sham.'

The result, Graham told reporters after the hearing, was 'legal confusion' that contributed to the scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison -- and the attendant courts-martial and other career damage for those held responsible. . . .

With Democrats united against Haynes, Graham's position is crucial because without his support Haynes could have a hard time getting out of the Judiciary Committee, which has 10 Republicans and nine Democrats. Graham is also one of the Senate 'Gang of 14' that has agreed to oppose filibusters of judicial nominees except in 'extraordinary circumstances.'"

Thomas Ferraro, Reuters, Bush judicial nominee struggles to win Senate OK

"Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said he was awaiting a response from Haynes to a recent letter he sent him. 'I'm not blocking it (the nomination), but I have questions,' McCain said."

Laurie Kellman, AP, Haynes Fights to Save Judgeship Nomination

"Haynes' nomination was not clear of trouble.

Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said afterward he had not yet decided whether to vote for Haynes' confirmation. And Reid cited a letter by 20 retired military officers strongly opposing sending Haynes to the court in Richmond, Va.

Three Republican members of the so-called 'Gang of 14' senators, who have significant say in whether controversial nominations survive, also have expressed concern about Haynes' nomination. They are Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine."

Charles Hurt, Washington Times, Democrats likely to filibuster nominee

"While Mr. Haynes was outright condemned by Democrats on the panel, his sparring with Mr. Graham was the sharpest as the senator tried to determine how involved Mr. Haynes was in the original policy memos.
Later, outside the hearing room, Mr. Graham dodged reporters' questions about whether he could support the nominee.
'Actions have consequences,' he said.
Further complicating the situation is that Mr. Graham is among the so-called 'Gang of 14' senators -- seven Democrats and seven Republicans -- who have made a pact to prevent filibusters except in the case of 'extraordinary circumstances.' In return, Republicans such as Mr. Graham promise not to go along with the 'nuclear option' unless Democrats lodge a frivolous filibuster.
After his dust-up with Mr. Haynes at yesterday's hearing, Mr. Graham declined to even rule out that Mr. Haynes poses the 'extraordinary circumstance' that would warrant a filibuster."

Richmond Times-Dispatch, Hearing stormy for judicial nominee

"President Bush's pick of William James Haynes II for the Richmond-based federal appeals court faces an uncertain future after a stormy nomination hearing yesterday.

Two Democrats blistered Haynes, the Pentagon general counsel, over his role helping shape Bush administration policies on treatment of enemy detainees, and one Republican senator sharply questioned Haynes' role too....

Haynes also was asked about a letter signed by a group of retired military officials. It voiced 'profound concern' about Haynes' role, going 'over the objections of uniformed military lawyers,' in setting policies 'which led not only to the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody but to a dangerous abrogation of the military's long-standing commitment to the rule of law.'

Haynes got a copy of the letter from Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., who with Sen. George Allen, R-Va., introduced him to the committee. Haynes took issue with the assertion. He said he thought he had worked with only two of the 20 signers of the letter, although he hadn't studied it closely."

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