Will Obama Keep His Word Today?
Glenn Grennwald notes that today marks a crucial step in determining whether Obama will uphold the rule of law.
Today is the most significant test yet determining the sincerity of Barack Obama’s commitment to restore the Constitution, transparency and the rule of law. After seeking and obtaining multiple extensions of the deadline, today is the final deadline for the Obama DOJ to respond to the ACLU’s FOIA demand for the release of four key Bush DOJ memos which authorized specific torture techniques that have long been punished (including by the U.S.) as war crimes. Today, Obama will either (a) disclose these documents to the public or (b) continue to suppress them — either by claiming the right to keep them concealed entirely or, more likely, redacting the most significant parts before releasing them.
I want to underscore one vital point about this controversy that is continuously overlooked and will be undoubtedly distorted today in the event of non-disclosure: these documents are not intelligence documents. They are legal documents and, more specifically, they constitute what can only be described as secret law under which the U.S. was governed during the Bush era. Thus, the question posed by the release of these OLC memos is not whether Obama will release to the public classified intelligence programs. The question is whether he will release to the public the legal doctrines under which the U.S. Government conducted itself regarding interrogation techniques he claims are no longer being used. [emphasis in original]
This is absolutely right. The OLC’s opinions act as kind of a “mini-Supreme Court” for the executive branch that governs what it feels is the limit of the law. American citizens have the right to know under what legal doctrines the government believes it can operate. With that in mind, I hope that Obama will pass this test and release the OLC memos unredacted.
But I won’t hold my breath for that.