Court Jousters

•Third man on the list is a real backroom player: Jim Haynes, 43, Pentagon general counsel and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's chief legal adviser. Haynes has served as a vice president of General Dynamics and was the army's general counsel under the original Bush. Plainspoken like Rummy and no-nonsense, he's especially important because he worked in the Pentagon during the Gulf War and knows how to adapt to fast-changing situations on Washington's political front. And he has had experience in Central Asia, developing small businesses as part of a relief project in oil-rich Kazakhstan.

Haynes drafted the outline for the Bush administration's military tribunals, which will try suspected terrorists. They require that only the presiding officer be from the judge advocate, with the other jurists being "competent and educated people." In describing the commission, Haynes said, "Well, there are some similarities to Nuremberg, and there are some dissimilarities to Nuremberg. These procedures are, frankly, much more detailed and, in many respects, are more generous than what was done at Nuremberg."

These three lawyers are at the vanguard of the legal attack, but they are scarcely by themselves. Rather, they're part of a loose, extensive team of conservative lawyers who have collected here over the years. Some have clerked for justices Scalia and Thomas. Some learn about liberals by working in their midst as "counter clerks."

They mostly know one another, sometimes from Harvard Law. Just about everybody seems to have some attachment to the Federalist Society and, when it comes to policy matters, the Heritage Foundation, whose links to the administration and conservative lawmakers are preeminent. The Federalist Society is often pictured in the liberal media as some sort of darkly sinister cesspool of conservative thought. Conservatives more often view it as their own ACLU.

Additional reporting by Caroline Ragon, Cassandra Lewis, Gabrielle Jackson and Joshua Hersh.
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