CommunityFDL Main Blog

Was OLC Procedure Bypassed with Torture Memos?

Something else worth noting from the PFAW/AFJ/NWLC/NARAL-sponsored press call in support of Dawn Johnsen yesterday.

Doug Kmiec pointedly called out something that was missing from the OLC torture memo context:

That’s an office that’s a small office. It’s an office that until recent times is obscure. But, nevertheless, it has always been depended upon for its ability, as is often said, to say no when no needs to be said.

And that requires that certain procedures be observed: That the office insists upon requests to it to be in writing. That the views of the requester be identified. That all of the effected agencies are given an opportunity to weigh in — and that the facts at one agency is anticipated — as was the case in the torture memo context — to strongly object, as the State Department did, that they wouldn’t be kept from the process. And most assuredly that one would not frame the advice that one would give to ratify a procedure that one would so obviously see to be in tension with the words of the statue and the treaty obligations of the United States.

None of these things, it seems to me, are things to chastise Professor Johnsen for – but to praise her….

It isn’t just that Dawn Johnsen is well aware of the procedures, the law and the balance of powers arguments within constitutional scholarship. It’s that she’d have the nerve to do her job properly — and point out where problems had been in the past — that’s rattling so many skittish folks inside the Beltway.

Do you think that regular procedure at OLC was bypassed by coincidence or deliberately so? And, if deliberately, why?

Aren’t these questions that ought to be asked?

They likely are questions that were asked — and answered — for the upcoming OPR report. As Kmiec and Walter Dellinger made clear in the call after I asked about this, having the head of OLC in place before that OPR report is released would be far better for the nation and the rule of law. Because the aftermath of the report is likely going to require changes and substantial accountability measures that cannot be forcefully taken by someone in an acting head capacity.

And that may be the point in trying to delay the vote. Funny how happens, isn’t it?

Please call your Senators and tell them to vote FOR cloture and FOR Dawn Johnsen for OLC. Also, take a moment to call Harry Reid’s office — (202) 224-3542 — and tell him to schedule a vote.

Christy Hardin SmithCommunity

Was OLC Procedure Bypassed With Torture Memos?

Something else worth noting from the PFAW/AFJ/NWLC/NARAL-sponsored press call in support of Dawn Johnsen yesterday. 

Doug Kmiec pointedly called out something that was missing from the OLC torture memo context:

That’s an office that’s a small office. It’s an office that until recent times is obscure. But, nevertheless, it has always been depended upon for its ability, as is often said, to say no when no needs to be said. 

And that requires that certain procedures be observed: That the office insists upon requests to it to be in writing. That the views of the requester be identified. That all of the effected agencies are given an opportunity to weigh in — and that the facts at one agency is anticipated — as was the case in the torture memo context — to strongly object, as the State Department did, that they wouldn’t be kept from the process. And most assuredly that one would not frame the advice that one would give to ratify a procedure that one would so obviously see to be in tension with the words of the statue and the treaty obligations of the United States.

None of these things, it seems to me, are things to chastise Professor Johnsen for – but to praise her….

It isn’t just that Dawn Johnsen is well aware of the procedures, the law and the balance of powers arguments within constitutional scholarship. It’s that she’d have the nerve to do her job properly — and point out where problems had been in the past — that’s rattling so many skittish folks inside the Beltway. 

Do you think that regular procedure at OLC was bypassed by coincidence or deliberately so?  And, if deliberately, why? 

Aren’t these questions that ought to be asked?

They likely are questions that were asked — and answered — for the upcoming OPR report.  As Kmiec and Walter Dellinger made clear in the call after I asked about this, having the head of OLC in place before that OPR report is released would be far better for the nation and the rule of law.  Because the aftermath of the report is likely going to require changes and substantial accountability measures that cannot be forcefully taken by someone in an acting head capacity.

And that may be the point in trying to delay the vote.  Funny how happens, isn’t it?

Please call your Senators and tell them to vote FOR cloture and FOR Dawn Johnsen for OLC.  Also, take a moment to call Harry Reid’s office — (202) 224-3542 — and tell him to schedule a vote.  

Previous post

John Kiriakou, Abu Zubaydah And The 83 Waterboardings

Next post

Russ Feingold: Repeated Assertion of State Secrets "Reminiscent of Bush Administration"

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com