Meet Your New Assistant Attorney General For The Office Of Legal Counsel

Yeah, that’s right. Under pressure from Joe Sestak, Arlen Specter is backing Dawn Johnsen, my friend Brian Beutler reports. My own little reporting piece of this: Richard Lugar is not reversing his position in favor on Johnsen, so she’s got 60 votes in the Senate.  So Harry Reid just needs to call the vote & she’s in.

And now, after good-naturedly chastising an FDL colleague for greeting this parade with a gale-force hurricane, I want to say: the most consequential person in the Obama administration from a civil-liberties perspective is named Barack Obama. It’s good to have Johnsen in the job. But let’s not ascribe her powers she doesn’t possess. Eric Holder, Jeh Johnson and David Kris also had good civil-libertarian records before heading into the administration. An OLC of Johnsen, David Barron and Marty Lederman should be pretty progressive. But while the position is the closest thing in the Justice Department to a judicial-like check, it’s not independent, either. So, you know — structures, not personalities. That’s what matters.

Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman