Obama’s Best Move So Far? Marty Lederman Joins OLC

From Armando at Talkleft Monday evening:

Martin “Marty” S. Lederman
Photo: Georgetown Law

Lederman Joining Obama Administration:

From Ben Smith [at Politico]:

   A Georgetown source forwards over an email from that school’s administration, reporting that Professor Marty Lederman’s class will be canceled — because he’s joining the Obama administration.

   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. . . . Lederman has been . . . an early and vocal critic of torture, and has suggested Bush Administration officials have committed specific crimes in that regard.

For those unfamiliar with him…

Martin “Marty” S. Lederman [until today was] an Associate Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches various courses in constitutional law, and seminars on separation of powers and executive branch lawyering. He regularly contributes to the weblogs SCOTUSblog and Balkinization, including on matters relating to Executive power, detention, interrogation, civil liberties, and torture. Lederman was an Attorney Advisor in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel from 1994 to 2002

Marty Lederman blogs with Jack Balkin, at Balkinization.

In a Balkanization post July 08, 2007, Lederman grouped all of his, Mark Graber’s, Stephen Griffin’s, Scott Horton’s, Sandy Levinson’s, David Luban’s, Brian Tamanaha’s, Jack Balkin’s and a few others posts “on the complex of issues raised by torture, interrogation, detention, war powers, Executive authority, the Department of Justice, and the Office of Legal Counsel” together under the heading The Anti-Torture Memos: Balkinization Posts on Torture, Interrogation, Detention, War Powers, Executive Authority, DOJ and OLC

There are many, almost six hundred, posts in that Balkinization category, but a quick scan of the titles will give you a good indication of Marty’s feelings and leanings on the subjects of torture and applicable “rule of law”, and his very strong and vocal criticisms of torture by the Bush administration.

Update: Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lederman is joining Dawn Johnsen in the Office of Legal Counsel.

Jack Balkin has confirmed Ben Smith’s Politico article with a post at Balkinization this morning:

Some of you may have noticed that Marty Lederman has not been blogging recently at Balkinization. The reason is that he has been working on the Department of Justice Transition team. As of today, the commencement of the Obama Administration, he begins work as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel. There he will be joined by two of his former OLC colleagues, Dawn Johnsen, nominated to be head of the office; and David Barron, who will serve as the Principal Deputy (and as the Acting AAG while the Senate considers Dawn’s nomination).

And as Scribe commenting at Talkleft notes:

The job [Lederman] got is the same one held by Yoo when he wrote the Torture Memos (for Bybee’s signature) and who-knows-what other Constitutional abortions.

In other words, Obama just put one of Yoo’s harshest critics – and one who kept his criticism on purely intellectual-honesty type grounds – into Yoo’s old job, doubtless with the direction “clean things up”.

Here is Marty Lederman in a two and a half minute clip with Elisa Massimino and David Rivkin discussing guidelines for interrogation, and the Army field manual. Note Marty’s comments beginning at the two minute mark.

ACS (American Constitution Society) hosted a panel discussion on issues surrounding the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes whose existence was revealed in December 2007. The panel, convened on Friday, January 25, 2008, discussed a number of legal and policy questions. Full video of the event is available on the ACS web site: http://www.acslaw.org/node/6069

The Army Field Manual still codifies torture in violation of the Geneva Conventions as noted in this article at AlterNet.

Lederman, although far from what we’ve had the past few years with Yoo and Bybee’s justifications and Bush’s endorsements of torture as part of US Government policy, is still very far from what I’d like to see and leaves much work left to be done for anti-torture activists.

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    • Edger on January 20, 2009 at 04:43

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