Up to the rank of colonel, the military grows and promotes its own officers, independent of political influence.  This is sacred.  Is there a military man or woman anywhere, active or retired, alive or dead, who would not be outraged to learn that President Bush wants to take control of the promotion of military lawyers?

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

The administration has proposed a regulation requiring “coordination” with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate General corps – the military’s 4,000-member uniformed legal force – can be promoted.

Granted, presidents do have a hand in the promotion of generals, the one percent of career officers who make it to the top.  But it is the military, and only the military, who molds future generals by promoting them up through the ranks to colonel.  Now President Bush wants to plug himself into promotions down at the captain and major level.  Oh sure, we’re only talking about lawyers . . . or are we?  If the military hands over JAG promotions to Bush and Cheney, what’s to stop this administration from interfering with regular line officer promotions?

Nothing, that’s what, and pretty soon we’ll have an officer corps of political yes men, bending to every wind blowing out of Washington DC.  Okay, you say, but General Petraeus is just such a yes man, and so what?  Because General Petraeus is balanced out by non-political generals and admirals, particularly his own immediate superior, Admiral Fallon, the commander of US Central Command, who is anything but a political yes man:

In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus’s superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” and added, “I hate people like that”, the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

We won’t have military leaders like Admiral Fallon if Bush and Cheney get their way.  Why do we need military leaders like Admiral Fallon?  Because they bring sanity to war planning:

For two hours, President Bush listened to contrasting visions of the U.S. future in Iraq. Gen. David H. Petraeus dominated the conversation by video link from Baghdad, making the case to keep as many troops as long as possible to cement any security progress. Adm. William J. Fallon, his superior, argued instead for accepting more risks in Iraq, officials said, in order to have enough forces available to confront other potential threats in the region.

Planning for other potential threats in the CENTCOM area of operations is Admiral Fallon’s job.  Bush and Cheney can pretend everything’s hunky-dory with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; Admiral Fallon cannot, a responsibility which requires him to stand up to the president.  How did a man like that ever get as far as he has?  Because the military grew him and promoted him.  We need to protect that independence.

As a former military officer, I’m outraged by this power grab.  I’ve resisted commenting on the growing calls for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, but now my ox is about to be gored, so I will comment: this administration, through its attempts to create a “unitary executive,” has declared war on the U.S. Constitution and must be stopped.  Will Bush and Cheney simply run out of time before they can finish off our constitutional system of checks and balances?  We’d be foolish to count on that.

Credit where credit’s due: Avedon Carol.

Update (12/19/07): Outrage widespread.  Proposal withdrawn.  For now.

© 2007, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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2 thoughts on “Outrageous

  • ugggghhhhhh – really how low can this administration stoop? do i dare ask or will they take that as a challenge?

  • Jon Stewart did a segment a while back called “You Have No Idea.” It was about the incredible level of pettiness coming from the top of the Bush White House – stuff like how Surgeon General Carmona had to mention Bush by name (in a positive way, of course) three times per page in every speech he prepared. Truly, we have no idea how low these guys can go!

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