No Comment — June 22, 2007, 12:30 am

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor, Harper’s Magazine

I request your attention to Harper’s Internet “No Comment” piece by Mr Scott Horton, published June 7, 2007. It was well below accepted journalistic standards, lacking both appropriate fact-checking and opportunity to comment before publication.

The facts: In 2003, I was tasked by the General Counsel, Department of Defense, to lead a group of senior Pentagon lawyers to assess potential methods of interrogation for use with terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo. Our review was an iterative process that included all Judge Advocates General and General Counsels. Although we were directed to apply the Department of Justice’s legal analysis to our review, I ensured that all participants had several opportunities to affect the DOJ analysis before incorporation. All General Counsels and Judge Advocates General were provided opportunity to discuss the matter directly with the DOD General Counsel as well. Views differing from the DOJ analysis were addressed in our policy analysis. Finally, the list of recommended techniques was unanimously concurred in by all Judge Advocates General and General Counsels.

To respond to some of the other unsupported statements: I have never attempted to suppress any aspect of any inquiry or investigation. On more occasions than I would like, I’ve engaged in unavoidable disputes with some senior Judge Advocates. They are, like me, entitled to the independence of their views. One of their roles is to advocate for their uniformed clients. One of mine is to help ensure meaningful civilian oversight of the military. That creates a natural, constitutionally derived, tension. I’ve never evaluated their positions based on their political views—indeed, I don’t know them.

Sincerely,

Mary L. Walker
General Counsel
Department of the Air Force

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