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Monday, February 22, 2010

A horse can work at the OLC


It's true: It's easier to get a charge as a disorderly person than for a dishonest analysis at the OLC.

I have a different question for those closer to the legal battle over what was done: of course, it could happen again, right? (n.b. Fallows, who thinks it is in the past).

As I see it, all President Palin would have to do is to replace the OLC with "friendlies", even well meaning "extremists" with Federalist Society credentials, intimate comfortable judgeships for cooperating attorneys, and have the "aging" opinions "updated", especially if there was an explosion near Capital Hill or wherever that "changed everything".

So far as I can tell, Obama has instituted* new policy and new practice; but those could change in a new administration.

Congress, so far as I'm aware, hasn't clarified anything binding. Indeed, the same snow-them-under techniques are still available to a wily Executive, with the possible exception that someone's ears might perk up at the term "waterboarding". The Detainee Act came with a very clear signing statement, asserting an Executive right to both interpret the act and to exercise Executive authority in defense of the nation.

The new attorney general, perhaps bowing to his boss, hasn't even tried to prosecute those who might be responsible (winning the verdict is not the point - "seek justice").

And, now, the lawyers who would write such an opinion can be assured that it might be "deplorable" to some, but it wouldn't bring them professional sanction. Seriously, if you can get away with torture, then what's left not to try, including trying it again?

*technically, the Bush administration itself stopped some of the practices