Sunday, March 8, 2009
Charlie Savage and Scott Shane in today's NYT take a look at this question: "What is a government lawyer's responsibility if legal advice he gives turns out to be, in the view of many authorities, grievously flawed?"
The question arises in the context of a handful of Bush administration attorneys and their much criticized advice on constitutional executive authority in the war on terror via Office of Legal Counsel memorandums. The memos', er, inadequacies were perhaps most highlighted in the OLC's January 15, 2009, retraction and the, er, analysis in the rest of the lot in the recent set released by the Obama administration. See here.
Yoo has been under investigation by DOJ's ethics office, he's been sued by Jose Padilla (the complaint is here; DOJ is defending Yoo, as per Department practice), and he's come under fire from everyone from his students to the Berkeley City Council to the OLC leadership in the waning days of the Bush administration. He nevertheless stands by his sweeping claims of executive authority, if not his memos' "lack of polish."
There is of course quite a bit of commentary on the blogosphere, but I'd invite our own readers to comment on the Constitutional law reasoning and conclusions in the Bush lawyers' OLC memos and to answer this question: How bad is too bad?