President Obama today announced Indiana University School of Law professor Dawn Johnsen as his choice to head the Office of Legal Counsel. I bet she can’t wait to get a look at the rest of those secret opinions! As per my last post, Johnsen has been aggressively outspoken about the direction of OLC under Bush. She’s been overseeing the DOJ transition team’s OLC efforts and met resistance in trying to gain access to classified legal memos on national security issues.
The OLC, of course, is the once-obscure office that became part of a raging national debate over the use of torture. OLC advises the executive branch how to act within the law. Under the influence of Dick Cheney, and with the help of the now-notorious John Yoo (whom I remember from the Senate Judiciary Committee when I was a cub reporter at Roll Call), OLC used some pretty twisted legal reasoning to justify what most everyone else believes was illegal activity, from warrantless domestic wiretapping to torture of terrorism suspects. Johnsen’s clearly on the record with her anger at what she called the “shockingly flawed” reasoning justifying torture (or “extreme interrogation techniques” as I used to have to call them when I worked for the MSM.) It’s likely Jon Kyl or some other conservative on the Judiciary Committee will kick up a fuss about her blunt words, but there’s no way she won’t be confirmed.
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