Posts Tagged ‘johnsen’

Correcting the Record on Dawn Johnsen’s Record

April 17, 2009

In a post yesterday on Powerline, Paul Mirengoff argued that the Senate should reject the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Office of Legal Counsel. Even though his post was full of errors, some bloggers seem to regard it as credible. So, a point-by-point correction is in order.

  • Mirengoff argues that “There is strong reason to believe that Dawn Johnsen will consistently err on the side of protecting terrorists and denying the president the power to protect the nation. This fear is not based solely on her blogging; it also stems from her law review articles and, to a lesser extent, statements she has made or declined to make during the confirmation process.”

In fact, Johnsen has urged critics of the Bush Administration to be careful and focused, cautioning them not to let their disagreement with Administration policies lead them to a weak view of executive authority. “Regardless of who proves correct about the general post-Bush direction of presidential power,” she has written, “there is some risk that reactions to the Bush experience—public sentiment, political considerations, or mistaken constitutional understandings—might distort criticism and harm legitimate and valuable executive powers. Commentators certainly should not mute their principled criticism, but they should avoid imprecise and over-generalized reactions that might undermine the ability of future Presidents to exercise legitimate authorities.” 88 Boston U. Law Review 395, 398 (2008). (more…)

Bush OLC Repudiates Its Own Opinions

March 2, 2009

The Bush administration asserted notoriously aggressive and broad claims of presidential authority to violate acts of Congress when the President believed that doing so advanced the national security interests of the United States - and the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice was repeatedly the source of legal memoranda that purported to justify those claims.  During the transition from the Bush to the Obama administrations, civil liberties groups and others called for the rapid repudiation of these memoranda, a good number of which remain classified and undisclosed.  When Dawn Johnsen, slated to be the next head of OLC, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, she was questioned by several Democratic Senators who were interested in how quickly she was going to re-examine and repudiate these memoranda.  Senator Whitehouse, for example, urged that Professor Johnsen quickly reconsider declassifying a number of these OLC opinions - which he has seen on a classified basis - because, he said, the reason they seemed to be classified was not due to a fear of revealing national security information, but instead out of a desire to “protect them from scrutiny because they were so badly done.”  (more…)

Johnsen’s Confirmation Hearing as OLC Head — The Right Choice

February 25, 2009

 Dawn Johnsen will be questioned today by the Senate Judiciary Committee with respect to her nomination as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, along with David Kris, who has been nominated to head the National Security Division.  The Office of Legal Counsel is the key Justice Department office advising the President on issues of executive authority.  As a friend and colleague of Professor Johnsen for years — including a colleague when we both worked at OLC in the 1990s — I am completely confident that the Constitution will be in excellent hands with her as head of the Office, and that President Obama has chosen well.  That’s my opinion, as well as my disclosure of bias for what follows.  (more…)

Confirmation Hearings Set for Two Key Justice Department Officials

February 18, 2009

On Tuesday, February 25 at 2 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee is schedule to convene confirmation hearings for Dawn Johnsen slated as head of the Office of Legal Counsel and for David Kris to be head of the National Security Division. OLC is the epicenter for legal interpretations regarding surveillance, interrogation and detention, while NSD is operations central for law enforcement efforts to defeat terrorism within the United States. Both the legal interpretations and the operational policies of the Bush Administration came under enormous criticism, and a central theme of the hearings is certain to be trying to pin down each nominee on how much the Obama administration will differ from the approaches taken under President Bush. Copies of Professor Johnsen’s and Mr. Kris’ responses to the Committees questionnaire have been posted on the Committee website, here and here along with letters the Committee has received in support of each nominee.