The decision by the Pentagon to formally abide by the Supreme Court ruling in Hamdan must, however, be seen in context. The critical context is today's nomination hearings of Jim Haynes for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Haynes made the Pentagon announcement; and Haynes, when he worked as general counsel for president Bush the Pentagon, was instrumental in the endorsement and enabling of torture. When Haynes was in the White House Pentagon in November 2002, he endorsed the following list of "interrogation techniques" for use by the military and CIA:

"forced nudity; forced grooming; "[u]sing detainees['] individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress"; 20-hour interrogations; stress positions (i.e. hanging from wrists from the ceiling); waterboarding (the use of a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation); and "scenarios designed to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequences are imminent for him and/or his family."

Haynes, by all accounts, is a genial fellow who simply told the president what he wanted to hear. But no man who has endorsed waterboarding as an interrogation technique should be allowed near a federal bench. War criminals cannot be judges. The Senate must deny Haynes a "reward" for following the law. If Hamdan hadn't forced his hand, torture would still be policy. You don't reward such criminals; you ostracize them and keep them for ever from public office. One further caveat: we still have no assurance that the CIA won't still be authorized to torture in secret sites beyond our purview. we know how deeply attached Cheney is to the torture policy. He may still be trying to find a way to get around the law, as he has so doggedly in the past. We have evefry reason to be thrilled this morning, but history cautions skepticism as well.

For more on Haynes' complicity in torture, see posts by Marty Lederman here and here, and Jane Mayer's piece here.