Sunday, October 01, 2006

Settling Personnel and General Claims at the Department of Defense

Published recently in the Federal Register the final rule assigning responsibility and policy for the Settling of Personnel and General Claims and Processing Advance Decision Requests designates the General Counsel of the DoD the ultimate "judge" on whether or not a claim will be paid. The majority of claims dealth with in this final rule surround the death of a member of the military or a civilian employee of the DoD.

Who, you may ask, is the current General Counsel of DoD? It is
William J. Haynes II. He has most recently been lauded for the following:

During his tenure as General Counsel, Haynes was responsible for the development, implementation and promotion of three controversial Bush Administration policies:

-The refusal to treat any of the hundreds of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and conversely, the refusal to apply Contsitutionally mandated due process to these Guantanamo Bay prisoners, who are detained with a status of Non-POW by the United States Government without being convicted of any illegal act.

-Haynes appointed a working group led by John C. Yoo and Air Force general counsel Mary Walker that produced a report proposing ways in which existing international treaties banning torture could be circumvented, either through legal technicalities or by invoking the President's ultimate authority to wage war as he sees fit.

-The Defense Department's military tribunal plan for trying suspected war criminals.

-The indefinite detention of U.S. citizens by the Executive Branch without legal counsel or judicial review.

Bush nominated him to a judgeship on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003, but his involvement with the creation of "Legal Arguments for Avoiding the Jurisdiction of the Geneva Conventions in Iraq" has caused Senate Democrats to engage in a filibuster to prevent his nomination from receiving a full Senate vote.

Ted Kennedy has this to say about the nomination:

"Nominations do not get much worse than this. Haynes does not come anywhere close to the commitment to fundamental rights and the principle of separation of powers that we all expect from the federal courts. He would be a poster boy on the 4th Circuit for denying the rule of law, and he should not be confirmed."

Given the above, who is to say that Mr. Haynes would treat our uniformed and civilian employees of the DoD with respect and honor when their families file a claim against the DoD in the event of their loved ones death or mistreatment? This is just further evidence of the Bush administration's lack of concern for anyone but their corporate overlords and their personal greed.


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