White House dumps Dawn Johnsen

Dawn Johnsen withdrew her nomination yesterday for head of the Office of Legal Counsel, saying in a statement,

Restoring OLC to its best nonpartisan traditions was my primary objective for my anticipated service in this administration. Unfortunately, my nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that threaten that objective and prevent OLC from functioning at full strength. I hope that the withdrawal of my nomination will allow this important office to be filled promptly.

Sam Stein posted the full text of Johnsen's statement and commented,

The withdrawal represents a major blow to progressive groups and civil liberties advocates who had pushed for Johnsen to end up in the office that previously housed, among others, John Yoo, the author of the infamous torture memos under George W. Bush.

But the votes, apparently, weren't there. Johnsen had the support of Sen Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) but was regarded skeptically by Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) -- primarily for her positions on torture and the investigation of previous administration actions. A filibuster, in the end, was likely sustainable. Faced with this calculus, the White House chose not to appoint Johnsen during Senate recess, which would have circumvented a likely filibuster but would have kept her in the position for less than two years.

A White House statement said the president is searching for a replacement nominee and will ask the Senate to confirm that person to head the Office of Legal Counsel quickly. I still think the Obama should have included Johnsen in a group of recess appointments he made last month. Jake Tapper quoted an unnamed Senate source as saying the White House "didn't have the stomach for the debate" on her nomination. It doesn't reflect well on Obama or on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that Johnsen never got a vote in the Senate, even after it was clear there were 60 votes in her favor last year (before the Massachusetts Senate special election).

UPDATE: From a must-read post by Glenn Greenwald:

What Johnsen insists must not be done reads like a manual of what Barack Obama ended up doing and continues to do -- from supporting retroactive immunity to terminate FISA litigations to endless assertions of "state secrecy" in order to block courts from adjudicating Bush crimes to suppressing torture photos on the ground that "opennees will empower terrorists" to the overarching Obama dictate that we "simply move on." Could she have described any more perfectly what Obama would end up doing when she wrote, in March, 2008, what the next President "must not do"? [...]I don't know why her nomination was left to die, but I do know that her beliefs are quite antithetical to what this administration is doing.

Tags: Congress, Senate, Dawn Johnsen, Obama adminisration, DOJ, Barack Obama, Obama adminisration, DOJ, Barack Obama, olc (all tags)




A Democratic president, a Democrat majority Senate, and a Democratic majority House.

But the Republicans are controlling them all. The best we liberal-progressives could get is a watered down corporate-run expensive medical care system, albeit coverage for almost everyone.

Clinton allowed the Republican House to self-destruct when it engineered a shut-down of the government in the 90s by blocking legislation. Let the Republican obstructionists have a go at suicide again.

by MainStreet 2010-04-10 10:36AM | 1 recs
A definitive cave in to thuggery

Civil liberties and the rule of law never have a strong constituency. Especially they have no constituency in a terrified nation as we've become. There is little downside in popular esteem for trashing freedoms, except the gradual decay of liberty.

Johnsen was one of Obama's few nods in the direction of reining in executive lawlessness. Bye-bye.

by janinsanfran 2010-04-10 10:43AM | 1 recs
Yeah for bipartisanship!!!


by tarheel74 2010-04-10 11:44AM | 0 recs
RE: White House dumps Dawn Johnsen

Change America, then you get the change in Congress.  Poll all you want, even the progressives I know don't want to deal with the mess of a inquiry into the Bush years.  We are tired of fighting ignorance and hatred I guess...better to let history look into it in 20 years when it is safer?

I think we built the hate machine over the last 30 years and now we have to let it run its course...or else fight it with more violence, which I am not yet ready to stomach.  We have a large number of voting bullies who accept no outcome but what they want and they will use ANY means to magnify their voice.  They truly will burn down the country if they cannot get their way...this is what we are buttressing against.  The only way to "win" is to ride out the storm and blunt the damage as best as possible.

Obama and a Dem congress was only the start...the invasion of Italy in WWII if you will.  There is a LOT of work to do and time that must pass, before the electorate will change.  I am guessing the financial system will have to collapse once again, that some sort of near-apocolypse, worse than 2008, will have to occure before we are scared into voting for our well-being instead of for Corporate well-being.

Or all is for naught and we are already all controlled by the Corps.  I believe we still have a fighting chance to make a progressive world so long as we have some PATIENCE!

by Hammer1001 2010-04-10 12:36PM | 0 recs
she was a poor choice....

....because of her "paper trail."   Obama should have found a progressive without the the controversy.  Who that could be, I don't know.

If Dawn Johnson was "abaondoned," it happened last summer.  No president should appoint someone that he doesn't fully support or won't support at the first hint of controversy or opposition.


by esconded 2010-04-10 01:36PM | 0 recs

great article




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by Rick 2010-04-10 11:14PM | 0 recs

OK. I'll vote against him next chance I get.

by QTG 2010-04-11 09:33AM | 0 recs


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