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White House seeking control over JAG promotions: Boston Globe

[JURIST] The Bush administration has proposed a draft regulation that would give political appointees in the Defense Department a role in the promotion of military lawyers working as members of the Judge Advocate General Corps, the Boston Globe reported over the weekend. Some 4,000 lawyers work as JAGs across the military, and their hirings and promotions are currently determined by a board of military officers. Under the proposed regulation, first circulated by the Pentagon in November and recently obtained by the Globe, decisions on hiring and promotion would be made in "coordination" with that branch of the military's general counsel, a political appointee, and the Pentagon. Critics of the proposal say that increased politicization of the promotion process would prevent JAGs from giving honest opinions on the legality of administration policy, especially regarding interrogation and the treatment of detainees. Tensions between political appointees and Pentagon military lawyers have in the past led to recriminations over scandals such as Abu Ghraib [JURIST report], and the insertion of a political appointee into the prosecution process for detainees at Guantanamo Bay led in October to the resignation of the top military prosecutor [JURIST reports] in charge of the war crimes trials there.

The proposal is not yet final, and a decision whether to adopt the regulations, which also revise promotion procedures for all commissioned officers in the military, is expected by early next year. The Boston Globe has more.

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