Senate Republicans are now privately threatening to derail the confirmation of key Obama administration nominees for top legal positions by linking the votes to suppressing critical torture memos from the Bush era. A reliable Justice Department source advises me that Senate Republicans are planning to “go nuclear” over the nominations of Dawn Johnsen as chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the Department of Justice and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as State Department legal counsel if the torture documents are made public. The source says these threats are the principal reason for the Obama administration’s abrupt pull back last week from a commitment to release some of the documents. A Republican Senate source confirms the strategy. It now appears that Republicans are seeking an Obama commitment to safeguard the Bush administration’s darkest secrets in exchange for letting these nominations go forward. [...]
The Justice Department source confirms to me that Brennan has consistently opposed making public the torture memos—and any other details about the operations of the extraordinary renditions program— but this source suggests that concern about the G.O.P.’s roadblock in the confirmation process is the principle reason that the memos were not released. Republican senators have expressed strong reservations about their promised exposure, expressing alarm that a critique of the memos by Justice’s ethics office (Office of Professional Responsibility) will also be released. “There was no ‘direct’ threat,” said the source, “but the message was communicated clearly—if the OLC and OPR memoranda are released to the public, there will be war.” This is understood as a threat to filibuster the nominations of Johnsen and Koh. Not only are they among the most prominent academic critics of the torture memoranda, but are also viewed as the strongest advocates for release of the torture memos on Obama’s legal policy team.
You want a war? FIne. We’ll give you war. If those memos aren’t released, and/or Dawn Johnsen is not confirmed as head of the OLC, JTB will “go nuclear.” I say this a lot, but I really mean it this time: I will not rest if this stands. This is a landmark issue for me, and I will scream from the rooftops if I have to.
And damn it, I shouldn’t have to do this. The Senate Democrats need to grow a pair and stand up to this garbage. The GOP lost in 2008. They lost real bad. They shouldn’t have unilateral authority to blackmail the President into not doing something within his prerogative as Chief Executive. The want to filibuster? FIne. Let’s have a damn filibuster. I want to see 24/7 debate on the Senae floor, cots and all. I want CNN to constantly broadcast for hours on end that the Republican Party supports secret legal opinions, and furthermore, is willing to hold up the entire schedule of the Senate to preserve said memos. You can even squeeze that on a bumper sticker:
GOP ♥ Secret Legal Opinions
GOP ♥ Torture
If the GOP wants war, we’ll give it to them.Read More