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General Accuses WH of War Crimes

The star witness yesterday was Haynes -- the former Pentagon general counsel, "War Council" member and Addington protege.

Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane write in the New York Times that Haynes "sparred at length with senators seeking to pin on him some responsibility for the harsh tactics and the worldwide outrage they provoked.

"Documents released Tuesday show that some of Mr. Haynes's aides in July 2002 sought out information about aggressive interrogations.

"Mr. Haynes fended off attacks by Democrats and some Republicans, noting that the Defense Department has 10,000 lawyers and saying he had no time to conduct legal research himself on which methods were permitted.

"Moreover, Mr. Haynes said, 'as the lawyer, I was not the decision maker. I was the adviser.'

"Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said he thought Mr. Haynes's advice had led American soldiers drastically astray. 'You degraded the integrity of the United States military,' Mr. Reed said."

Dana Milbank writes in The Washington Post: "If ever there was a case that cried out for enhanced interrogation techniques, it was yesterday's Senate appearance by the Pentagon's former top lawyer.

"William 'Jim' Haynes II, the man who blessed the use of dogs, hoods and nudity to pry information out of recalcitrant detainees, proved to be a model of evasion himself as he resisted all attempts at inquiry by the Armed Services Committee. . .

"It was the most public case of memory loss since Alberto Gonzales, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, forgot everything he ever knew about anything. And, like Gonzales, Haynes (who, denied a federal judgeship by the Senate, left the Pentagon in February for a job with Chevron) had good reason to plead temporary senility.

"A committee investigation found that, contrary to his earlier testimony, Haynes had showed strong interest in potentially abusive questioning methods as early as July 2002. Later, ignoring the strong objections of the uniformed military, Haynes sent a memo to Donald Rumsfeld recommending the approval of stress positions, nudity, dogs and light deprivation. . . .

"Haynes mixed his forgetfulness with a dash of insolence. He suggested to [Claire] McCaskill [(D-Mo.)] that 'it's important that you understand how the Defense Department works.' He cut off [Jack] Reed [(D-R.I.)] with a 'Let me finish, Senator!' and disclosed that he had been too busy to give more attention to the Geneva Conventions: 'I mean, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of decisions made every day. This was one.'"

Mark Benjamin of Salon offers up a timeline based on the Senate investigation. He writes that "as more and more documents from inside the Bush government come to light, it is increasingly clear that the administration sought from early on to implement interrogation techniques whose basis was torture.

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