Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Hand-Maiden of Christ

Billmon is so good on this, I'm quoting him at length:


It's been pointed out to me (tip of the hat to Bernhard H.) that the team of lawyers who wrote the Pentagon's treatise on presidential torture powers [see previous posting below] was led by this woman: U.S. Air Force's General Counsel, Mary L. Walker.

Ms. Walker, it turns out, is a long-time Republican political appointee first brought to Washington during the Reagan administration to help oversee the looting of America's natural resources, um, that is, I mean, to serve as principal deputy in the environmental division at Ed Meese's Justice Department.

It also appears that Ms. Walker is a devout Christian -- much like her fellow Reagan alum and environmental despoiler, Interior Secretary James "I don't know how many generations we've got until the Lord returns" Watt. And she's the co-founder of a San Diego group called Professional Women's Fellowship, an offshoot of the Campus Crusade for Christ "dedicated to helping professionals find balance, focus and direction in life."

God knows, we all need balance, focus and direction in our lives -- and I'd be the last person to criticize Ms. Walker for looking for it in Jesus. As a devoted follower of John Lennon (bigger than Christ, but we won't dwell on that) I'm a firm believer in whatever gets you through the night. It's all right. It's all right.

But knowing what we now know about the subject matter of the Pentagon report, and the legal theories expounded therein, I do have to wonder how seriously Ms. Walker takes her Golden Rule.

At the very least, the report lends a curious overtone to some of the comments in this interview with Walker, which was published on the PWF web site:

Walker: "I wanted to be involved in policy development at the highest level, and lawyers in our society are often involved in shaping policy."

The report: After defining torture and other prohibited acts, the memo presents "legal doctrines ... that could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful."

Walker: "I can't divorce faith from success because God is the foundation for my life."

The report: "Good faith may be a complete defense" to a torture charge.

Walker: "My relationship with God and with others in the community of faith has been central in my life."

The report: "The infliction of pain or suffering per se, whether it is physical or mental, is insufficient to amount to torture." It "must be of such a high level of intensity that the pain is difficult for the subject to endure."

Walker: "It helped to find someone who could mentor me and help me see my faith as relevant to the challenges of life and work."

The report: For involuntarily administered drugs or other psychological methods [to be considered torture], the "acts must penetrate to the core of an individual's ability to perceive the world around him."

Walker: "When God is the center of your life and everything you do revolves around His plans for you and the world, then that is when life really gets exciting."

The report: The executive branch [has] "sweeping" powers to act as it sees fit because "national security decisions require the unity in purpose and energy in action that characterize the presidency rather than Congress."

Walker: "It's a travesty to be in a place of strategic importance to the world as a business or political leader and not allow God to accomplish the truly significant through you."

The report: To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president."

And of course, I saved the best for last:

Walker: "Making moral decisions in the workplace where it is easy to go along and get along takes courage. It takes moral strength and courage to say, 'I'm not going to do this because I don't think it's the right thing to do."

The report: Officials could escape torture convictions by arguing that they were following superior orders, since such orders "may be inferred to be lawful" and are "disobeyed at the peril of the subordinate."

And so there you have it: Mary L. Walker -- Christian, Republican, Patriot, Torture Attorney.

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