Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Legal Review of the Bin Laden Raid

Tomorrow’s Today’s New York Times will feature features a fascinating article by Charlie Savage on the legal review process that preceded the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. The article is drawn from Savage’s forthcoming book, Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency, which I have ample reason to believe will be very worth reading.

It’s very interesting—and quite surprising—that the Obama administration kept Attorney General Eric Holder and DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel entirely out of the loop on the difficult and novel legal questions that the raid presented. It’s also interesting—but much less surprising—that it kept State Department legal adviser Harold Koh out of the loop. Gee, it’s almost as though the Obama administration engineered the process to maximize the prospect that it would receive the answers it wanted.

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