[JURIST] The Bush administration is abandoning a plan to give political appointees in the Defense Department a role in the promotion of military lawyers [Boston Globe report; JURIST report] working as members of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday. Critics of the proposed plan said that increased politicization of the promotion process would prevent JAGs from giving honest opinions on the legality of administration policy, especially regarding interrogation and the treatment of detainees. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell denied allegations that the proposal was meant to stifle JAG criticism of administration policies, telling the Globe that it was intended as a form of "quality control."
Some 4,000 lawyers work as JAGs across the military, and their hirings and promotions are currently determined by a board of military officers. Under the proposed regulation, first circulated by the Pentagon in November and recently obtained by the Globe, decisions on hiring and promotion would have been made in "coordination" with that branch of the military's general counsel, a political appointee, and the Pentagon. Tensions between political appointees and Pentagon military lawyers have in the past led to recriminations over scandals such as Abu Ghraib, and the insertion of a political appointee into the prosecution process for detainees at Guantanamo Bay led in October to the resignation of the top military prosecutor [JURIST reports] in charge of the war crimes trials there. The Boston Globe has more.