Monday, July 09, 2007

Military justice legislation

The "Military Justice and Legal Assistance Matters" subtitle of this year's House-passed version of the DOD Authorization Act, H.R. 1585, includes only one item, which would expand authorization to provide legal assistance to "[c]ivilian employees of the Federal Government serving with, or preparing to serve with, an armed force in support of a contingency operation, as designated in regulations prescribed by the Secretary concerned." (Hey, No Man -- if we can court-martial them, the least we can do is give them legal assistance, too.)

The Senate version, S. 1548, on the other hand, has three items. The first, for reasons that aren't apparent to me, would statutorily authorize CAAF judges to administer oaths.

The second provision is an expanded authorization to provide legal assistance that is at once broader and narrower than the House version. Rather than applying only in contingency areas and to those preparing to go to contingency areas, it more broadly applies "in locations where legal assistance from non-military legal assistance providers is not reasonably available." But rather than applying to all federal government civilian employees, it more narrowly applies to "[c]ivilian employees of the Department of Defense." Unlike the House version, the Senate version also omits reference to service regulations.

Section 573 provides that serving Judge Advocates General shall be three-star generals or admirals. It also provides that the legal counsel to the Chairman of the JCS shall be a one-star.


Anonymous said...

Apparently the more stars you have makes you a better lawyer. Didn't see any of the JAGs or the JCS legal counsel resigning in the face of an illegal war in Iraq or resigning in the face of illegal action toward enemy combatants. More stars? Yea, that's the ticket.

No Man said...


Actually the service JAGs have been trying for years to get three-star level for a litany of reasons, but one is implicated by your post. JAGs serve at the pleasure of the President and are military officers just like the rest of us. So resigning because your boss doesn't take your advice poses another list of problems. More importantly, whether your advice is received is also a function of where you sit at the table or if you sit at the table at all. Three stars put you at more tables than 2. More tables mean your advice concerning issues of the Geneva Convention and treatment of EPWs and other detainees gets into more people's hands. Though I don't see section 573 passing, I think it is time it does.

egn said...

The legislation to add stars to the service JAGs was introduced by Sen. Graham in 2004 as a response to that issue. There were hearings held on the matter, and at the time the service JAGs agreed that 3 stars would not be necessary for them to do their job effectively. However, the argument that 3 stars gives you more clout than 2 was advanced for the main reason that the civilian General Counsels to the services had a higher status than the JAGs. And the service in which this status and clout was wielded most strongly to silence the JAG was the Air Force, the service in which Sen. Graham is a reservist. Of course the JAG at the time was also MG Fiscus...