The war against Addington's war

Newsweak has a long article which attempts to make heros out of lawyers who disagreed with "... David Addington, formerly counsel, now chief of staff to the vice president."


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... According to those who know him, he does not care about fame, riches or the trappings of power. He takes the Metro to work, rather than use his White House parking pass, and refuses to even have his picture taken by the press. His habitual lunch is a bowl of gazpacho, eaten in the White House Mess. He is hardly anonymous inside the government, however. Presidential appointees quail before his volcanic temper, backed by assiduous preparation and acid sarcasm.

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Addington and a small band of like-minded lawyers set about providing that cover—a legal argument that the power of the president in time of war was virtually untrammeled. One of Addington's first jobs had been to draft a presidential order establishing military commissions to try unlawful combatants—terrorists caught on the global battlefield. The normal "interagency process"—getting agreement from lawyers at Defense, State, the intelligence agencies and so forth—proved glacial, as usual. So Addington, working with fellow conservative Deputy White House Counsel Timothy Flanigan, came up with a solution: cut virtually everyone else out. Addington is a purist, not a cynic; he does not believe he is in any way ignoring or twisting the law. It is also important to note that Addington was not sailing off on some personal crusade; he had the full backing of the president and vice president, who shared his views. But, steeped in bureaucratic experience and clear in his purpose, Addington was a ferocious infighter for his cause....

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Do you get the impression that Newsweak is going after Cheny's new chief of staff and using desenting lawyers as its prop for the criticism? The thrust of the story is that the desedents are the brave heros standing up to a power mad lawyer in the White House. On the other hand they could be legal wimps who undercut their client and hurt the war against the terrorist trying to kill Americans. To back their opinion they would have to accept that certain terrorist would not be detected and caught before they killed Americans. That was what they and Newsweak were willing to accept rather than intercept enemy communications with their agents in the US. They would have told President Lincoln that he could not intercept Confederate telegraph messages on war movements. It is such idiocy that lawyers should be banned from acting as such in matters of war, because they lose track of reality. Lawyers were responsible for the failure to take shots at bin Laden in the early days of the war. They are ill suited for making command decisions. Anyone who does not think we should intercept enemy communications with anyone in this country is an idiot. The requirement of having to jump through hoops in order to do so is also idiocy.

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