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What Addington Wrought

When Goldsmith presented his view that the Fourth Geneva Convention, which describes protections that cover civilians in war zones like Iraq, also covered insurgents and terrorists, "Addington, according to Goldsmith, became livid. 'The president has already decided that terrorists do not receive Geneva Convention protections,' Addington replied angrily, according to Goldsmith. 'You cannot question his decision.' ...

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald focuses on Addington's apparently wishful thinking about the FISA court.

Greenwald writes: "Their goal all along was to 'get rid of the obnoxious FISA court' entirely, so that they could freely eavesdrop on whomever they wanted with no warrants or oversight of any kind. And here is Dick Cheney's top aide, drooling with anticipation at the prospect of another terrorist attack so that they could seize this power without challenge. Addington views the Next Terrorist Attack as the golden opportunity to seize yet more power. Sitting around the White House dreaming of all the great new powers they will have once the new terrorist attack occurs -- as Addington was doing -- is nothing short of deranged."

Legal blogger Marty Lederman thinks that Goldsmith understates the significance of his December 2003 repudiation of fellow Justice department official John Yoo's March 2003 opinion on torture. Goldsmith apparently wasn't sure it made much practical difference. Lederman writes that there is "good reason to believe that the abuse that occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan throughout 2003 was directly attributable to John Yoo's March memo . . . and that therefore Jack Goldsmith's December 2003 repudiation of John Yoo's memo dramatically changed the legal playing field at DoD, and had a profound effect on its interrogation techniques."

Background on Addington

In May 2006, Chitra Ragavan profiled Addington -- "the most powerful man you've never heard of" -- for U.S. News. Addington "has served as the ramrod driving the Bush administration's most secretive and controversial counterterrorism measures through the bureaucracy," Ragavan wrote.

"Name one significant action taken by the Bush White House after 9/11, and chances are better than even that Addington had a role in it. . . .

"In national security circles, Addington is viewed as such a force of nature that one former government lawyer nicknamed him 'Keyser Soze,' after the ruthless crime boss in the thriller The Usual Suspects."

In July 2006, the New Yorker published Jane Meyer's profile of Addington. One scene: "On November 13, 2001, an executive order setting up the military commissions was issued under Bush's signature. The decision stunned [then-secretary of state Colin] Powell; the national-security adviser, Condoleezza Rice; the highest-ranking lawyer at the C.I.A.; and many judge advocate generals, or JAGs, the top lawyers in the military services. None of them had been consulted. . . . According to multiple sources, Addington secretly usurped the process. He and a few hand-picked associates, including Bradford Berenson and Timothy Flanigan, a lawyer in the White House counsel's office, wrote the executive order creating the commissions. Moreover, Addington did not show drafts of the order to Powell or Rice, who, the senior Administration lawyer said, was incensed when she learned about her exclusion."

Barton Gellman and Jo Becker further illustrated Addington's dominant role in their Washington Post series of Cheney in June: "Addington, backed by Flanigan, found levers of government policy and wrote the words that moved them. . . .

"Gonzales, a former Texas judge, had the seniority and the relationship with Bush. But Addington -- a man of imposing demeanor, intellect and experience -- dominated the group. Gonzales 'was not a law-of-war expert and didn't have very developed views,' Yoo recalled, echoing blunter observations by the Texan's White House colleagues."

There's more on Addington in my columns of Nov. 1, Nov. 2 and Nov. 4, 2005, in the wake of Cheney's decision to promote Addington after Libby's resignation; and also in my June 20, 2006 column about a Supreme Court decision that reasserted the rule of law -- and set Addington back on his heels.

The Failed Surge

Renee Schoof and Warren P. Strobel write for McClatchy Newspapers: "The surge of additional U.S. troops in Iraq has failed to curtail violence against Iraqi civilians, an independent government agency reported Tuesday.


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