Obama’s OLC nominee: ‘We must regain our ability to feel outrage whenever our government acts lawlessly.’

President-elect Barack Obama announced today that Dawn Johnsen will serve as the next Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). Salon’s Glenn Greenwald calls the pick “Obama’s best yet, perhaps by far.” As evidence, Greenwald highlights an article in Slate that Johnsen authored last year, in which she excoriated John Yoo’s infamous torture memo:

dawn.gifI want to second Dahlia’s frustration with those who don’t see the newly released Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) torture memo as a big deal. Where is the outrage, the public outcry?! The shockingly flawed content of this memo, the deficient processes that led to its issuance, the horrific acts it encouraged, the fact that it was kept secret for years and that the Bush administration continues to withhold other memos like it — all demand our outrage.

Yes, we’ve seen much of it before. And yes, we are counting down the remaining months. But we must regain our ability to feel outrage whenever our government acts lawlessly and devises bogus constitutional arguments for outlandishly expansive presidential power. Otherwise, our own deep cynicism, about the possibility for a President and presidential lawyers to respect legal constraints, itself will threaten the rule of law — and not just for the remaining nine months of this administration, but for years and administrations to come.

Johnsen also criticized the Democratic Congress for legalizing Bush’s surveillance program. She also wrote passionately about restoring our “nation’s honor” by condemning “our nation’s past transgressions” and rejecting “Bush’s corruption of our American ideals.”


Tim Fernholz notes that Johnsen’s recently written articles are entitled Faithfully Executing the Laws: Internal Legal Constraints on Executive Power and What’s a President to Do? Interpreting the Constitution in the Wake of the Bush Administration’s Abuses.

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