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The Yoo Memos Were Not Legally Sound? Former OLC Chief Says, “No.” Tactfully.

March 7, 2009

The “BLT” (Blog of Legal Times) reports that prior to stepping down, one of Bush’s former OLC  Chiefs, Steven Bradbury, was careful to make a record disavowing a host of infamous OLC opinions–including one of Yoo’s FISA memos.  Bradbury’s chopping block bore remnants of approximately seven opinions animating various facets of the Bush Administration’s controversial stance relevant to the “war on terror,” ranging from statutory construction to constitutional issues (e.g., the use of force, detention of “unlawful combatants,” and, the scope of the President’s power as Commander-in-Chief).  The incredulous and curious will find a link to the memos on the BLT.

Bradbury concluded one of his memos observing that the opinions were “the product of an extraordinary—indeed, we hope, unique—period of history of the nation.”  That is tact distilled.

I don’t think Mr. Bradbury was implying the Yoo memos are akin to Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation or, perhaps, FDR’s war bonds.  I’m guessing the implication was less “four score and seven years ago,” and more the “Age of McCarthyism.”  In any event, it’s yet another tragic example of reliance upon the “20/20 hindsight” plea by executive branch politicos, like Bybee and Yoo, who, without considering the human impact of their professional efforts, seek distinguished credibility asserting, long after being discredited, that their legal opinions and politics are distinct.  Really?

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