In September, the White House has declared that its “next priority this fall” is to obtain Senate approval for Steven Bradbury, “the man who is advising President Bush on the extent of his terrorism-fighting powers.” In 2005, Bradbury replaced Jack Goldsmith as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and has since been interim OLC chief.
Today, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) expressed reservations about Bradbury. “What we know is troubling. Mr. Bradbury refuses to repudiate un-American and inhumane tactics such as waterboarding and mock executions. … There are also serious and unanswered questions about Mr. Bradbury’s role in NSA warrantless surveillance programs.”
Durbin announced that he, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), have written a letter to President Bush calling on him to find a more independent nominee:
I think we need new leadership at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Today, joined by Sens. Ted Kennedy and Russ Feingold, I’m sending a letter to President Bush calling on him to withdraw the nomination of Steven Bradbury … and to submit another nomination. … OLC is a small office, but it really has a lot of power, especially in this administration.
A lengthy New York Times expose this month revealed that in 2005, Bradbury signed off on a secret DoJ torture memo that endorsed “the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the CIA.” Bradbury also approved an executive order approving “enhanced” interrogation techniques.
The White House “relies on OLC for legal approval of surveillance programs, detainee treatment” and a host of classified issues; subsequently, Bradbury has been on the forefront of these efforts, allowing himself to become a politicized tool of Dick Cheney’s office. Such politicization appears to have occurred, “with Cheney’s blessing, to ensure that the department didn’t balk, as Goldsmith and his allies did, over torture or surveillance or indefinite detentions.”
In July 2006, Bradbury testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and proclaimed that “the president is always right.”