Bar Watch Bulletin October 2004
Diversity, Iraq, AG speculation
October 1, 2004
--In the October 2004 ABA Journal, ABA President Robert Grey, Jr. announced a new ABA diversity committee "of the great intellects and strategists of our profession such as Charles Ogletree, Ray Ocampo, Jane H. Barrett" and others. The Committee will draft a new ABA plan of future action concerning increased diversity in the legal profession. Grey praises diversity as it "is what gives this country its vibrancy, its enthusiasm and perspective. It's no accident that the most heterogeneous nation on Earth is also the most powerful and wealth. Diversity brings a depth of experience and a breadth of knowledge to a task that nothing else quite can."
--The American Bar Association strongly objected strongly to the inclusion of provisions authorizing "extraordinary rendition" in the House leadership's bill regarding implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. According to the ABA, "These provisions would permit secretly transferring terrorist suspects to foreign countries known to use torture in interrogating prisoners. Extraordinary rendition not only violates all basic humanitarian and human rights standards, but violates U.S. treaty obligations which make clear that the U.S. government cannot avoid its obligations under international law by having other nations conduct unlawful interrogations in its stead. This practice not only violates our own cherished principles as a nation but also works to undermine our moral leadership in the eyes of the rest of the world. Rejecting extraordinary rendition will demonstrate our respect for the rule of law and help protect American troops who may be detained by adversaries who may be disinclined to honor international obligations in light of the U.S. government's failure to honor its own."
The ABA has continued to voice its concerns about the Bush Administration's policies in the war on terrorism. Robert Grey has urged the creation of a new commission to investigate purported abuses of prisoners in Iraq. He stated in a speaking engagement shortly after assuming the ABA presidency, "It is an essential requirement of the campaign against terrorism that the world's population believe that we have the morally superior position." According to Grey, American moral authority is also undermined "when it appears that the United States has a disregard for international agreements. If our nation appears to circumvent these obligations when it appears to be politically or militarily convenient, then we debase the very value that we have sacrificed so much to defend: the value of the rule of law."
--Regarding speculation that he would be appointed to a high-level Justice Department position if John Kerry were elected president in November, past ABA President Dennis Archer stated he was "flattered." In the ABA Journal, Archer stated, "But I don't think it's there. I will say I'm not going to run for any elective office, but that I'm going to get involved in campaigns for other people-for school boards, city councils, governor, and so forth."