A colleague forwarded this memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England directing the promotion of the Army, Navy, and Air Force’s top uniformed lawyers — giving them an additional star and promotion to lieutenant general or vice admiral, respectively. The promotion order will take some time to process, as it must be vetted, packaged, and formally submitted by the president for the advice and consent of the Senate, but this is now effectively a done deal as far as the Pentagon is concerned.
What’s interesting is that Congress mandated these promotions last year in the National Defense Authorization Act. But as Scott Horton recounts , those promotions were delayed by former Pentagon counsel William “Jim” Haynes II, who wanted to maintain the dominance of senior political appointee lawyers over the services’ uniformed lawyers — exactly what Congress wanted to reverse. Haynes sought a Justice Department opinion on the matter and slow-rolled the promotions as long as he could. However, Haynes left the Pentagon a few months ago with his own star in decline. It appears that Defense Secretary Gates ordered the promotions as a way to build bridges between senior political appointees and senior military officers and a way to move past the Rumsfeld-Haynes legacy on detention and interrogation policy.