Let me go in the wayback machine to January 20, 2009, and the announcement of Marty Lederman joining the Administration in the Office of Legal Counsel:
Lederman, another former Clinton Office of Legal Counsel lawyer, is perhaps the most prominent of several high-profile opponents of the Bush Administration’s executive power claims joining Obama, a mark that he intends not just to change but to aggressively reverse Bush’s moves on subjects like torture. With hires like Barron, Johnsen, and Lederman, Obama is not just going back to Democratic lawyers: These are anti-Bush lawyers.
Lederman has been, in particular, an early and vocal critic of torture, and has suggested Bush Administration officials have committed specific crimes in that regard.
(Dawn) Johnsen, we now know, was never confirmed to OLC. David Barron, the acting head of OLC, left the Administration to go back to Harvard. And now we learn that Lederman is leaving as well. Every single one of the lawyers who made up the President’s excellent team of appointments at the DoJ will be leaving. Johnsen was supposed to be the head of OLC, Barron #2, and Lederman specifically in John Yoo’s former position. They’re all gone now.
As you probably know, the Office of Legal Counsel is basically the Supreme Court inside the executive branch, providing legal opinions for the Administration on what they can and cannot do. It was legitimately good news at the time when that office was being staffed with people vocally opposed to torture. It’s legitimately depressing news that they have all been either blocked from their jobs or left them on their own accord. It signals a dark time in American history for the rule of law.
As we see in the Washington Post the building of a massive, hidden Security State beyond the control of regulators, politicians, or even the superiors who supposedly manage it, we see precisely the type of people who would be in a position to rein in some of its worst practices quietly exit the scene.
Maybe OLC can get outsourced to the private sector now, too.