Johnsen maintains that her criticism of the OLC's legal analysis regarding torture during the Bush years played a part in her nomination's demise. But, she writes, that it "is long past time to halt the damage caused by the ‘torture memo' by settling on a bipartisan understanding of the proper role of this critical office and confirming an assistant attorney general committed to that understanding."
Johnsen, acting assistant attorney general in the OLC during the Clinton administration, and a former ACS Board member, continues:
After the torture memo came to light, I led 19 former OLC lawyers in developing 10 "Principles to Guide the Office of Legal Counsel." We called for a return to long-standing, nonpartisan practice. The results were not flashy proposals for change but the carefully considered consensus of experience. The first principle, from which the others follow: "When providing legal advice to guide contemplated executive branch action, OLC should provide an accurate and honest appraisal of applicable law, even if that advice will constrain the administration's pursuit of desired policies."
Put plainly, the OLC must be willing to say no to the president under any circumstances. The office does the president no favors by allowing its legal analysis to be twisted by policy or partisan preferences, even in the midst of crisis, as the months after Sept. 11 undoubtedly were.
Her entire op-ed is available here.
Johnsen will provide remarks on the first day, June 17, of the 2010 ACS National Convention, "The Constitution, Congress, and the Courts," before a Gala Dinner at which Senator Al Franken will be the featured speaker. Today is the last day for early registration for the Convention. Click here to register and obtain a full schedule.