Dawn Johnsen Confirms President Must Comply with Congressional Ban on Torture

Created: February 25, 2009 16:59 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Office of Legal Counsel Director-nominee Dawn Johnsen confirmed today that the OLC does not have the authority to give the president a green light to ignore congressional statutes, such as a prohibition on torture. “It was absolutely wrong for the president to direct that the torture statute not be complied with.”

Referring to former Bush administration OLC attorney John Yoo’s “torture memo” that defined torture in only the most extreme terms and still didn’t ban it, she said: “I have written very critically of that opinion … my view is that that opinion was not written in the best traditions of the office and did not reflect that principle that legal advice should be impartial, independent, principled and accurate.”

Johnson also confirmed that she would not interfere with the release of the Office of Professional Responsibility report about the integrity and competence of previous OLC opinions, which did approve presidential authority to violate congressional statutes.