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Change we can really believe in. Office of Legal Counsel.

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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 01:45 PM
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Change we can really believe in. Office of Legal Counsel.
(This is especially for ProSense, but also for anyone who wants to track the return to the rule of law for this country. The contrast with the Bush Administration and John Yoo's belief in the Unitary Executive could not be more stark. Anyone who is thinking about what went wrong in the Bush Admin should be cheered in reading this article.)


Bush's legal foes now Obama's legal team
By BEN SMITH | 1/24/09

President Barack Obama is staffing his Justice Department with some of his predecessor's fiercest critics, and lawyers who have spent years defining the limits of executive power will now be helping to wield it.

The change may be most dramatic at the Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel which defended some of Bushs most controversial policies where a small cadre of lawyers who had an outsized influence on legal criticism of Bush are taking the top three jobs.

Those three Dawn Johnsen, Martin Lederman, and David Barron and others made the case that Bushs interrogation policy was justified by flawed legal reasoning. Their arguments precipitated one of Obamas most dramatic early acts: flatly repudiating all government legal advice on interrogation issued between September 11, 2001, and January 20, 2009.

I think they will be an irritant for Obama in the best possible way theyre very honest lawyers, said Rosa Brooks, a professor at Georgetown University Law School, where Lederman also taught. When Dawn and Marty and David think that he is asking if he can do something that in their view pushes the envelope and goes beyond the bounds of what is legal, theyre going to say, Sorry Mr. Obama, we think that would be illegal.

Read this article. Also, know this important background on what this office means and what these appointments mean in advancing a 180 degree turnaround in legal implementation of decision in the Oval Office. (Yeah, this is homework. But, dammit, it's really, really, really important to understanding what change means.)

From Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy
By Charlie Savage.

(Who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on this subject)

Page 77, hardcover edition

At the Justice Department, the real power resided in the Office of Legal Counsel. Few outside Washington or the nation's law schools have ever heard of the Office of Legal Counsel, or OLC, but it is one of the most important agencies in government. The Office of Legal Counsel advises the president and other executive branch officials, often in secret, about the lawfulness of proposed executive actions. By statute, an advisory opinion by the office becomes the binding interpretation of the law that the rest of the executive branch, including the CIA and the Pentagon, must follow. That means that the small groups of politically appointed lawyers who run the Office of Legal Counsel get to act like an internal Supreme Court for the executive branch -- they have the power to simply say what the law is, especially in national security matters that are unlikely to see the inside of a courtroom. This role gives the Office of Legal Counsel attorneys an extraordinary responsibility: If the executive wants to do something illegal, the duty of the office's attorneys is to say that it cannot be done. But this role also gives the Office of Legal Counsel attorneys the power to preemptively absolve officials of wrongdoing: If the OLC says a thing can be done lawfully, then a government official who takes an action relying on their pronouncement is safe from prosecution.

Damn do I feel good reading about the changes at OLC.
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YvonneCa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:48 PM
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1. Thank you. I will definitely be reading...
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 04:49 PM by YvonneCa
...these. You know what else I noticed? On the day Obama was signing documents, the person handing each (folder) to him was Lisa Brown of the American Constitution Society. I know nothing about her, except that she introduced Al Gore at Constitution Hall for a speech about the rule of law right around the time 'Assault on Reason" was published. Gore mentioned that she was a friend to he and his wife, Tipper. ;)

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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:36 PM
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2. Yoo...I mean
Woo Hoo!

Lederman: John Yoo Testimony

Great appointment.

Thanks for posting, Tay.

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