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Sen. Graham: White House Held Military Lawyers In 5 Hour Meeting and ‘Tried To Force Them To Sign A Prepared Statement’

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"Sen. Graham: White House Held Military Lawyers In 5 Hour Meeting and ‘Tried To Force Them To Sign A Prepared Statement’"

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This morning, President Bush was questioned about Gen. Colin Powell’s letter criticizing White House legislation that would authorize torture. Bush tried to downplay Powell’s letter by pointing to another letter signed by the military’s top uniformed lawyers saying they supported Bush’s plan:

BUSH: There’s all kinds of letters coming out — and today, by the way, active duty personnel in the Pentagon, the JAG, supported the concept that I have just outlined to you.

But during today’s White House press conference, a reporter cited comments by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) — a former JAG and an opponent of the Bush’s detainee policies — claiming that the White House had placed extreme pressure on the military lawyers to sign a statement, and that the lawyers had refused to sign the initial statement crafted for them by the White House:

REPORTER: Sen. Graham is telling reporters on Capitol Hill that the White House had them in a meeting for five hours last night and tried to force them to sign a prepared statement and he said reading this JAG letter they ended up writing leaves total ambiguity on interpretation, this is Sen. Lindsey Graham. What’s your response to that?

Snow acknowledged “they were asked to write a letter” but said, “if you start going into who asked whom to write letters, I don’t know.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2006/09/JAG.320.240.flv]

Read the full transcript HERE.

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