Mukasey: Increased Disclosure Is Unconstitutional
Steve Aftergood at Secrecy News reports on a weird episode: Attorney General Michael Mukasey reacted pretty strongly to a bill sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) that would compel congressional notification of opinions by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that conclude the executive branch isn’t bound by certain laws. Obviously, the rationale for such a bill is to avoid Bush-esque circumstances where OLC decides that an administration can do whatever the hell it wants and Congress doesn’t find out until years later. Here’s what Mukasey had to say about that, in Aftergood’s words:
The bill is unconstitutional because it improperly seeks to mandate the timing and extent of disclosure of classified information, and because it infringes on the constitutional doctrine of executive privilege, he said.
The legislation would require that Congress be notified of “many legal opinions” that fall within its terms, the Attorney General wrote. And it would mistakenly lead legal advisers to tailor their advice in such a way as not to trigger the reporting requirements of the Act, he warned.
OH NOES NOTIFICATION: The episode provides a glimpse into the collective mind of the Bush administration: Mukasey assumes that lawyers will just try to flout the law. Interestingly, one of the bill’s proponents is … Dawn Johnsen, whom President-electBarack Obama tapped to become his next chief of the Office of Legal Counsel.