Sunday, December 11, 2005

Matthew Waxman leaving Defense for State

Matthew Waxman, the Pentagon's point person on detainee affairs, is leaving that post for a high level position at the State Department. Congratulations, Matt! New York Times article, here. (And see my brief update, April 20, 2007, here.)

December 11, 2005, Sunday
Pentagon Expert on Detainees Plans to Leave for State Dept.

The New York Times

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 - The Pentagon's chief adviser on detainee issues is leaving to take a high-level policy job at the State Department, administration officials said on Saturday.

The adviser, Matthew C. Waxman, will become the principal deputy director of the department's policy planning staff, said administration officials who were granted anonymity because Mr. Waxman's new job had not been officially announced.

Since filling a position created nearly two years ago to help correct the damage caused by the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, Mr. Waxman has repeatedly clashed with top aides to Vice President Dick Cheney and senior Pentagon officials. These have included Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy, and William J. Haynes II, the department's general counsel, who have pushed to limit the rights of terror suspects and other detainees.

Several weeks ago, David S. Addington, who was then Mr. Cheney's counsel, assailed Mr. Waxman during a briefing, objecting to his insistence that a new set of Pentagon standards for handling terror suspects adopt language from the Geneva Conventions barring cruel, humiliating and degrading treatment.

Colleagues and human rights advocates said that while Mr. Waxman had expressed frustration over the internal administration policy fights, he was not being forced out, and he had started lining up his new job at the State Department before his confrontation with Mr. Addington, who is now Mr. Cheney's chief of staff.

"He's tried very hard," said Elisa Massimino, Washington director of the advocacy group Human Rights First. "But everybody recognized that he was having to go up against people who both outrank him and were deeply involved setting the policies that he was challenging."

A Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, declined to comment on Mr. Waxman's departure.
Mr. Waxman, as the deputy assistant secretary for detainee affairs, was a primary adviser to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on detainee matters and his point man for dealing with foreign governments and international organizations on the issue.

He led an internal Pentagon committee of lawyers, intelligence officers and policy analysts to coordinate detention policies and practices, and was charged with ensuring that Red Cross inspection reports from American military prisons landed on Mr. Rumsfeld's desk promptly.
Mr. Waxman, 33, a Bronx-born, Yale-educated lawyer, was a National Security Council official and a clerk to Justice David H. Souter. He is expected to assume his job at the State Department early next month.

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