The Corner

Our Private Deliberations on the D.C. Voting Rights Bill? You Can’t Have That — But Let Me Give You All Our Classified Memos on Interrogation . . .

The Holder Justice Department won’t release the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion that the D.C. Voting Rights bill is unconstitutional. From the Washington Post:  “Sen. John Cornyn (R., Tex.) sent a letter to Holder yesterday demanding that he release the Office of Legal Counsel opinion. A Justice Department official said authorities did not release internal deliberations ‘because they’re not the final, formal opinion.’”

Isn’t that interesting? This is the same attorney general, mind you, who has released formerly classified OLC memoranda regarding post-9/11 national-security measures and is currently steamrolling the intelligence officials trying to prevent him from revealing our interrogation methods to al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, other than “some advice regarding classified and some other national security matters” which “should remain confidential,” Dawn Johnsen, Obama’s nominee to run Holder’s OLC, has said that “OLC should follow a presumption in favor of timely publication of its written legal opinions. Such disclosure helps to ensure executive branch adherence to the rule of law and guard against excessive claims of executive authority. Transparency also promotes confidence in the lawfulness of governmental action.”

Of course, that was her view in 2004, when it was the Bush administration OLC. Maybe, since her nomination is still pending, Senator Cornyn should ask her whether she agrees with him that OLC — in the interest of transparency — should release its deliberations on the D.C. Voting Rights legislation.

For what it’s worth, I happen to think policy makers would get much better advice if that advice was not made public. But the rules have to be the same for both sides.

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