Convenient justice?

Published December 23, 2004 9:00PM (EST)

"The former chief military lawyer for the Air Force has been formally reprimanded for conduct unbecoming an officer because of improper relationships with more than a dozen women, the Air Force said on Wednesday," according to Reuters. "Gen. [Thomas] Fiscus, who oversaw 1,300 military lawyers and 300 civilian lawyers, as well as 1,000 military paralegals and 600 other civilian workers, could face additional action, including being disbarred, officials said."

The charges will likely end Fiscus' career, but certain Pentagon officials likely won't be shedding any tears. Under Fiscus' direction, the Washington Post reported in September, "Air Force lawyers have been among the most vocal over the past two years in challenging the Bush administration's handling of detainee issues."

Most notably, Fiscus tangled with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2002 -- before Abu Ghraib became public -- over whether the aggressive interrogation tactics being used at Guantanamo Bay went too far. Fiscus won out, and Rumsfeld backed down, withdrawing his support for tactics such as using dogs during interrogations and stripping prisoners naked to humiliate them.

Prosecution for adultery in the military is a fairly rare occurrence, and when the investigation of Fiscus first began, some suspected a political motive. "The timing of it is certainly suspect given [Fiscus's] office's opposing OSD [the Office of the Secretary of Defense] on detainee issues," David Sheldon, a lawyer specializing in military cases, told the Post.

By Jeff Horwitz

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