Office of Legal Counsel (OLC)
- Homepage: http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/
December 2005: "The Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel assists the Attorney General in his function as legal advisor to the President and all the executive branch agencies. The Office drafts legal opinions of the Attorney General and also provides its own written opinions and oral advice in response to requests from the Counsel to the President, the various agencies of the executive branch, and offices within the Department. Such requests typically deal with legal issues of particular complexity and importance or about which two or more agencies are in disagreement. The Office also is responsible for providing legal advice to the executive branch on all constitutional questions and reviewing pending legislation for constitutionality.
All Executive orders and proclamations proposed to be issued by the President are reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel for form and legality, as are various other matters that require the President's formal approval.
In addition to serving as, in effect, outside counsel for the other agencies of the executive branch, the Office of Legal Counsel also functions as general counsel for the Department itself. It reviews all proposed orders of the Attorney General and all regulations requiring the Attorney General's approval. It also performs a variety of special assignments referred by the Attorney General or the Deputy Attorney General"http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/
February 2013: 'Although not an official legal memo, the white paper was represented by administration officials as a policy document that closely mirrors the arguments of classified memos on targeted killings by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides authoritative legal advice to the president and all executive branch agencies. The administration has refused to turn over to Congress or release those memos publicly -- or even publicly confirm their existence. A source with access to the white paper, which is not classified, provided a copy to NBC News. “This is a chilling document,” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, which is suing to obtain administration memos about the targeted killing of Americans. “Basically, it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen. … It recognizes some limits on the authority it sets out, but the limits are elastic and vaguely defined, and it’s easy to see how they could be manipulated.”'http://openchannel.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/04/16843014-exclusive-justice-department-memo-reveals-legal-case-for-drone-strikes-on-americans
October 2011: "The ACLU is demanding the release of a 50-page classified memo drawn up last year by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that sought to justify the targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki."http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/25/death-of-u-s-teenager-in-drone-strike-stokes-debate
May 2008: "Since 2000, patent judges have been appointed by a government official without the constitutional power to do so....The Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, which is supposed to catch constitutional problems in pending legislation, only last year published a 41-page memorandum on the importance and limits of the appointments clause."http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/washington/06bar.html
October 2007: Both [harsh interrogation--Ed] documents were written by the Office of Legal Counsel after Alberto R. Gonzales became attorney general. Mr. Gonzales’s arrival effectively ended a rebellion in the department in 2004 by lawyers who had found fault with the legal justifications for interrogation and surveillance.http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/05/washington/05interrogate.html
October 2007: That opinion, which would become infamous as “the torture memo” after it was leaked, was written largely by John Yoo, a young Berkeley law professor serving in the Office of Legal Counsel. His broad views of presidential power were shared by Mr. Addington, the vice president’s adviser. Their close alliance provoked John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to refer privately to Mr. Yoo as Dr. Yes for his seeming eagerness to give the White House whatever legal justifications it desired, a Justice Department official recalled.http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/04/washington/04interrogate.html
December 2005: When the CIA wanted new rules for interrogating important terrorism suspects the White House gave the task to a small group of lawyers within the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel who believed in an aggressive interpretation of presidential power.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/29/AR2005122901585.html
Role Name Type Last Updated Owned by (partial or full, past or present) Justice Department/Department of Justice (DOJ) Organization Dec 26, 2005 Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Steven "Steve" G. Bradbury Esq. Person Oct 4, 2007 Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Judge Jay S. Bybee Esq. Person Feb 25, 2008 Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Prof. Jack Landman Goldsmith Esq. Person Oct 4, 2007 Employee/Freelancer/Contractor (past or present) Todd F. Graziano Esq. Person Feb 23, 2006 Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Prof. Douglas W. Kmiec Esq. Person Oct 4, 2007 Employee/Freelancer/Contractor (past or present) Prof. Harold Hongju Koh Esq. Person May 14, 2010 Organization Executive (past or present) Prof. John O. McGinnis Esq. Person May 7, 2008 Organization Executive (past or present) Theodore B. Olson Esq. Person Jan 17, 2008 Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist Esq. Person Oct 4, 2007 Organization Head/Leader (past or present) Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia Person Oct 4, 2007 Employee/Freelancer/Contractor (past or present) Prof. Cass R. Sunstein Esq. Person Feb 23, 2008 Organization Executive (past or present) Edward M. Whelan III, Esq. Person Jan 29, 2011 Employee/Freelancer/Contractor (past or present) Prof. Timothy Wu Esq. Person Jan 27, 2006 Employee/Freelancer/Contractor (past or present) Prof. John C. Yoo Esq. Person Dec 26, 2005
Articles and Resources
Date Fairness.com Resource Read it at: Feb 04, 2013 Justice Department memo reveals legal case for drone strikes on Americans
QUOTE: A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S. The 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, provides new details about the legal reasoning behind one of the Obama administration’s most secretive and controversial polices: its dramatically increased use of drone strikes against al-Qaida suspects abroad, including those aimed at American citizens
NBC News Oct 25, 2011 Death of U.S. teenager in drone strike stokes debate
QUOTE: 'Proportionality' is at the heart of the argument....is it acceptable in law to carry out an attack against an identified terrorist suspect where others in his immediate vicinity - whose identities are unknown - are likely to be killed or injured?...
CNN (Cable News Network) Sep 19, 2009 Cybersecurity Plan Doesn't Breach Employee Privacy, Administration Says
QUOTE: The Obama administration has agreed with its predecessor that a special surveillance program to monitor federal Internet traffic for malicious intrusions does not violate the privacy rights of government employees or others they communicate with.
Washington Post Nov 13, 2008 Bush, Out of Office, Could Oppose Inquiries
QUOTE: a precedent suggesting that former presidents wield lingering powers to keep matters from their administration secret. Now, as Congressional Democrats prepare to move forward with investigations of the Bush administration, they wonder whether that claim may be invoked again.
New York Times May 06, 2008 In One Flaw, Questions on Validity of 46 Judges (Sidebar)
QUOTE: The problem Professor Duffy identified at least arguably invalidates every decision of the patent court decided by a three-judge panel that included at least one judge appointed after March 2000.
New York Times Oct 05, 2007 Debate Erupts on Techniques Used by C.I.A.
QUOTE: The disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions on interrogation on Thursday set off a bitter round of debate over the treatment of terrorism suspects in American custody and whether Congress has been adequately informed of legal policies.
New York Times Oct 04, 2007 Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations
QUOTE: But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
New York Times Jun 07, 2007 Official: Cheney Urged Wiretaps: Stand-In for Ashcroft Alleges Interference
QUOTE: Vice President Cheney told Justice Department officials that he disagreed with their objections to a secret surveillance program during a high-level White House meeting in March 2004, a former senior Justice official told senators yesterday. .... The program allowed the National Security Agency to monitor phone calls and e-mails between the United States and overseas.
Washington Post May 17, 2007 Nixon Rides Again: It's only illegal when the president agrees it's illegal.
QUOTE: The story isn't who picked on a sick guy or even who did or didn't break laws. The story is who gets to decide what's legal. And the president's now-familiar claim, a la Richard Nixon, is that it's never illegal when he does it.
Slate May 16, 2007 Gonzales Hospital Episode Detailed: Ailing Ashcroft Pressured on Spy Program, Former Deputy Says
QUOTE: Attorney General John D. Ashcroft lay ill in an intensive-care unit, his deputy, James B. Comey, received an urgent call. White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., were on their way to the hospital to persuade Ashcroft to reauthorize Bush's domestic surveillance program, which the Justice Department had just determined was illegal.
Washington Post Sep 06, 2006 GOP Senators Differ With President on Military Trials: Terrorism Suspects' Right To Information Is at Issue
QUOTE: Under the lawmakers' plan, any future military trials of the nearly 200 eligible U.S. detainees held in military prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other locations around the world would be governed by a law that explicitly ensures that defendants have the right to know the evidence against them. The Bush administration has long maintained that no law is needed to establish a system of military commissions, as they are known, for trials of terrorism suspects
Washington Post Dec 30, 2005 Covert CIA Program Withstands New Furor: Anti-Terror Effort Continues to Grow
QUOTE: GST includes programs allowing the CIA to capture al Qaeda suspects with help from foreign intelligence services, to maintain secret prisons abroad, to use interrogation techniques that some lawyers say violate international treaties, and to maintain a fleet of aircraft to move detainees around the globe....The administration's decisions to rely on a small circle of lawyers for legal interpretations that justify the CIA's covert programs and not to consult widely with Congress on them have also helped insulate the efforts from the growing furor...
Washington Post Dec 26, 2005 Scholar Stands by Post-9/11 Writings On Torture, Domestic Eavesdropping: Former Justice Official Says He Was Interpreting Law, Not Making Policy
QUOTE: Widely considered the intellectual architect of the most dramatic assertion of White House power since the Nixon era, he has seen constitutional scholars skewer his reasoning and students call for his ouster from the University of California at Berkeley. Civil liberties advocates were appalled by a memo he helped draft on torture. The State Department's chief legal adviser at the time called his analysis of the Geneva Conventions "seriously flawed." Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote, in a critique of administration views espoused by Yoo, "a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens."
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