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Bruce E. MacDonald
VADM Bruce E. MacDonald.jpg
Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald, USN
40th Judge Advocate General of the Navy
Born 1955 (age 64–65)
Place of birth Cincinnati, Ohio
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1978–2009
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands held Judge Advocate General of the Navy
Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Navy
Battles/wars Gulf War
Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit (3)
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal (2)

Bruce E. MacDonald (born 1955 in Cincinnati, Ohio)[1] is a retired United States Navy vice admiral who last served as the 40th Judge Advocate General of the Navy from July 2006 to August 2009. Prior to that, MacDonald served as the Navy's Deputy Judge Advocate General from November 2004 to July 2006. On July 2, 2008, then Rear Admiral MacDonald was nominated for appointment to the grade of vice admiral while serving as the Navy's Judge Advocate General.[2] He was confirmed by the Senate on August 1, 2008[3] and was promoted to grade on August 4, 2008 becoming the first JAG to be a three-star flag officer.

Vice Admiral MacDonald graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and entered the Navy in May of that year. VADM MacDonald was commissioned an ensign in the unrestricted line through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Following the normal Surface Warfare pipeline, he reported to the USS Hepburn (FF 1055) in October 1979 where he served as Main Propulsion Assistant and Navigator. After a two-year tour at Fleet Combat Training Center, Pacific where he served as Intermediate Combat Systems Team Training and Advanced Multi-Threat Team Training course director, he was selected for the Law Education Program in 1984. He received his degree of Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law in 1987.[4]

US Navy 080804-N-8273J-062 Vice Adm. Judge Advocate General (JAG) Bruce MacDonald is pinned by his wife, Karen

Vice Adm. Judge Advocate General (JAG) Bruce MacDonald is pinned by his wife, Karen, during a promotion ceremony at the Pentagon. MacDonald is the first Vice Adm. JAG in the Navy. The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act advanced the position of the JAG in the Navy, Army, and Air Force to the grade of a three-star general or flag officer. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tiffini M. Jones/Released)

In 1987, VADM MacDonald reported to Naval Legal Service Office San Diego where he served as Senior Defense Counsel, Trial Counsel, and Medical Care Recovery Act Claims Officer. In 1990, he reported aboard USS Independence (CV 62) as the Command Judge Advocate. After receiving a Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., in 1992, he was transferred to Seoul, Korea, where he served as Chief, Operational Law Division, on the staffs of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and United States Forces Korea. He also served as Staff Judge Advocate on the staff of United States Naval Forces Korea.

In August 1994, VADM MacDonald reported aboard Naval Legal Service Office Northwest as its Executive Officer. In November 1996, he became the Officer in Charge of Trial Service Office West Detachment Bremerton, Wash. In July 1997, he reported to Commander Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan as the Fleet Judge Advocate. VADM MacDonald assumed command of Naval Legal Service Office Northwest in August 1999, serving as commanding officer until June 2002. He was assigned to The Pentagon as the Special Counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations from June 2002 through October 2004. In November 2004, VADM MacDonald became the Deputy Judge Advocate General and Commander, Naval Legal Service Command. In July 2006, VADM MacDonald assumed his position as Judge Advocate General of the Navy. He retired from the Navy in 2009.

Post-Naval CareerEdit

In 2010, MacDonald was appointed the Convening Authority for the Office of Military Commissions, replacing Susan J. Crawford.[4][5][6] On March 24, 2010, Newsweek reported that MacDonald who had helped draft the Military Commissions Act of 2009.

Carol Rosenberg, of the Miami Herald, reports that MacDonald had testified before the United States Congress on numerous occasions, defending the Guantanamo Military Commission system.[4]

MacDonald testified on February 13, 2013, at the military commission of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the four men accused of being his co-conspirators.[7][8][9] Defense attorneys had argued that MacDonald had improperly approved death sentences prior to their clients being provided with informed legal advice. According to Jane Sutton, reporting from Guantanamo, MacDonald and Commander Walter Ruiz had a "shouting match".

Sutton reported that MacDonald`s term as convening authority was scheduled to end in March 2013.[7]

Awards and decorationsEdit

Navy Distinguished Service ribbon Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Gold star
Gold star
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
Legion of Merit (2 Award Stars)
Defense Meritorious Service ribbon Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Gold star
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg
Meritorious Service Medal (1 Award Star)
Gold star
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation ribbon.svg
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (1 Award Star)
Gold star
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement ribbon.svg
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (1 Award Star)
Navy Unit Commendation ribbon Navy Unit Commendation
Navy Expeditionary ribbon Navy Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal (1 Service Star)
AFEMRib Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Southwest Asia Service ribbon Southwest Asia Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korea Defense Service ribbon Korea Defense Service Medal
Humanitarian Service ribbon Humanitarian Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.svg
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2 Service Stars)
Bronze star
Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon.svg
Overseas Service Ribbon (1 Service Star)
Us kw-kwlib rib Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

See alsoEdit


  2. [1] Flag Officer Announcement
  3. [2] Congressional Record 154:130 (August 1, 2008), p. S8078
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Carol Rosenberg (2010-03-25). "Obama appoints new chief for war court at Guantanamo". McClatchy News Service. Retrieved 2010-04-14. "MacDonald's last job in the military was as the Navy's top lawyer. He had repeatedly testified at Congress as a bullish backer of the at-times controversial tribunal system." 
  5. Michael Isikoff (2010-03-24). "Pentagon to Name New Chief for Military Commissions in Sign That Gitmo Trials May Move Forward". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2010-04-14. "The appointment of retired Admiral Bruce MacDonald, who formerly served as the chief Judge Advocate of the Navy, as the new "convening authority" for the Office of Military Commissions is among the most important moves in an apparent gearing up for the expected new wave of trials." 
  6. Michael Isikoff (2010-03-26). "Military-Commission Trials Set for the Summer". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 2012-12-16. Retrieved 2010-04-14. "Since then, however, Congress has passed a new law--signed by Obama--aimed at making the proceedings fairer. And last week Gates named retired Adm. Bruce MacDonald, who helped craft the new law, as the "convening authority" to oversee the commissions." 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jane Sutton (2013-02-14). "Guards seized Guantanamo defendants' legal documents". Guantanamo: Reuters. Archived from the original on 2013-02-14. "As "convening authority," he signed off on the charges and approved the decision to try the case as a death penalty case. Defense lawyers said he acted improperly by making that decision before all members of the defense teams had obtained the security clearances they needed to meet with the defendants and read classified documents." 
  8. Carol Rosenberg (2013-02-14). "Alleged 9/11 plotter disrupts testimony of Pentagon official at Guantánamo". Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on 2013-02-14. "For MacDonald’s testimony, the issue is what political or military influences caused him to swear out the charge sheets in 2011 after Attorney General Eric Holder abandoned an effort to stage the Sept. 11 terror trial in Manhattan." 
  9. Charlie Savage (2013-02-14). "Legal Clashes at Hearing for Defendants in 9/11 Case". New York Times. p. A17. Archived from the original on 2013-02-14. "Admiral MacDonald, a former top judge advocate of the Navy, began calmly, saying that he was among a group of uniformed lawyers who were “disgusted” by the Bush administration’s original military commission rules and had fought to revamp the system to make it fairer, including barring evidence obtained by torture." 


This article incorporates text in the public domain from the United States Navy.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
James E. McPherson
40th Judge Advocate General of the Navy
Succeeded by
James W. Houck

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