Saturday, April 10, 2010

Obama pick for Justice post withdraws.

Obama's nominee to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen, has withdrawn her nomination after several Republicans objected to her criticisms of the Bush regime torture policy.

Dawn Johnsen's withdrawal - a setback for the Obama administration - was announced late Friday by the White House on a day the capital's legal and political elites were absorbed in the news that Justice John Paul Stevens would retire from the Supreme Court.

The Senate Judiciary Committee had recommended Johnsen's confirmation on party-line votes. But several Republicans objected to her sharp criticisms of terrorist interrogation policies under President George W. Bush, and the full Senate never voted on her nomination.
The decision about who should lead the little-known office became a political flashpoint because of the controversies surrounding Bush-era interrogations of terror suspects.
The Office of Legal Counsel is supposed to give "impartial legal advice and constitutional analysis to the executive branch." In other words, to tell the president what is legal and what is not, rather than what he wants to hear.

The Republicans have objected because Johnsen has pointed out that the advice given by Yoo, Bybee and others was factually wrong.

I'd go further, in fact, and say that the advice they gave was criminal and that they should have been disbarred. The Obama administration would only concede that their advice was the result of poor judgement, not professional misconduct. That finding was generous in the extreme.

But the world is now totally upside down when the person who said they were wrong is considered too controversial to occupy that position. Would it be such a bad thing to have the Office of Legal Counsel led by someone who had read the law properly at a time when Yoo, Bybee and others were getting it so dreadfully wrong?

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