File:Mary L Walker.jpg

Mary L. Walker

Mary L. Walker (b. 1948) is a United States lawyer who served as General Counsel of the Air Force during the presidency of George W. Bush. She gained notoriety for her role in a 2003 review by the United States Department of Defense of the so-called Torture Memos.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Mary L. Walker was born in Dayton, Ohio on December 1, 1948.[1] She was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving an A.B. in 1970.[1] She then attended the Boston University School of Law, receiving a J.D. in 1973.[1]

Walker joined the legal department of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company in 1973.[1] She worked there until 1976, when she joined the law firm of Richards, Watson, Dreyfuss & Gershon in Los Angeles.[1] She made partner there in 1979, working there until 1982.[1]

In 1982, Walker moved to the United States Department of Justice as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Land and Natural Resources Division.[1] From 1984 to 1985, she was the Deputy Solicitor of the United States Department of the Interior.[1] On September 18, 1985, President of the United States Ronald Reagan nominated her to be Assistant Secretary of Energy (Environment, Safety, and Health).[1] She subsequently held this office until 1988.[2]

She spent 1988-89 as Vice President of Law Environmental Inc.[2] She was a partner at Richards, Watson & Gershon in San Francisco from 1989 to 1991.[2] She was a partner of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego from 1991 to 1994, and then at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in San Diego from 1994 to 2001.[2] She was also a U.S. Commissioner on the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission from 1988 to 1995.[2] An evangelical Christian, she participated in the founding of the San Diego Professional Women's Forum, a group related to the Campus Crusade for Christ.

On September 26, 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Walker to be General Counsel of the Air Force. She held this office for the duration of the presidency of George W. Bush.

Role in Torture Memos Controversy[edit | edit source]

On January 15, 2003, United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered a review of certain enhanced interrogation techniques authorized by the so-called Torture Memos of 2001.[3] Two days later, William J. Haynes, II, the General Counsel of the United States Department of Defense designated Walker as the head of an interdepartmental working group tasked with implementing the Secretary's request.[4] The next week, Walker received a 2001 memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel, authored by John Yoo and signed by Jay Bybee, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel. On January 23, 2003, General Counsel of the Navy Alberto J. Mora, a member of the working group, reviewed a hard copy of that memorandum in Walker's office[5] (no other copies were made).[6] This prompted a disagreement between Walker and Mora: Mora believed that the memorandum displayed "catastrophically poor legal reasoning", but Walker agreed with Yoo's reasoning.[7] Mora believed that Yoo's memo was "fundamentally in error" and "virtually useless as guidance... and dangerous", and circulated an opposing draft memo, entitled "Proposed Alternative Approach to Interrogations".[6] On March 6, 2003, the working group presented its report to Secretary Rumsfeld, determining that the reasoning behind the earlier memorandum was sound.[8] The working group's final report was presented on April 4, 2003.[9]

References[edit | edit source]

Government offices
Preceded by
Jeh Johnson?
General Counsel of the Air Force
2001 – 2008
Succeeded by
Charles A. Blanchard
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