U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), questioned four nominees during a SASC hearing yesterday. The four nominees included Mr. Paul C. Ney, Jr. to be General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Mr. Kevin M. Fahey to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Mr. Thomas E. Ayres to be General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force and Ms. Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty to be Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security.
Inhofe: There’s a controversial thing that came out just the other day and it’s one that I feel very very strongly about and it’s keeping aggressively open Gitmo—Guantanamo Bay. You know, I can remember people complaining about it and there are people here on this committee who don’t agree with this position, but I do and I think it’s very important. People don’t understand the differences, Mr. Ney, between combatants—enemy combatants—and criminals. They’re not one in the same and so we are limited in the resources we can use. The question I would ask you is how will you support the Secretary of Defense and provide independent legal advice while maintaining our lawful detention of enemy combatants at Gitmo?
Mr. Ney replied: Senator, I had a little bit of experience with that when I previously served in the Pentagon in the Office of General Counsel in the Department of Defense. The detainee matters were part of my responsibilities and so we did provide that sort of advice to Deputy Secretary of Defense—England at the time—and I would continue to provide that advice in a way that’s consistent with national law and more importantly in some respects—domestic law that’s been refined over the past decade regarding our detainee facilities. The president has said recently in his executive order that Gitno is to remain in operation—it is safe humane secure and legal operation and I will consult and advise the secretary to complete any mission that he sees necessary in how we use Gitmo.