Daily Archives: October 6, 2007

Illegal Eavesdropping A Legal Mess

Jack L. Goldsmith, now a Harvard Law Professor, once led the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that questioned the legality of the Bush Administrations domestic eavesdropping plan, reportedly told a Senate Committee that the situation became a “legal mess” because the White House didn’t believe that the Courts or Congress had any role to play — senior White House officials were adverse to ANY restraint on presidential power and were devoted to extreme secrecy.

“It was the biggest legal mess I had ever encountered” said Professor Goldsmith in his testimony. He went on to describe how David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s counsel, told him that his position of the program being illegal might mean failure to halt a new terrorist attack that would leave him with the blood of thousands on his hands.

In his testimony, Professor Goldsmith took pains to dispute the notion that the Bush Administration was indifferent to legal constraints in fighting terrorism. “In my experience, the opposite is true. The administration has paid scrupulous attention to law” he said.

Contrary to his testimony however, Professor Goldsmith wrote in his book “The Terror Presidency” that he found many of the legal opinions undergirding the Bush Administration’s antiterrorism policies “sloppily reasoned, overbroad and incautious in asserting extraordinary constitutional authorities on behalf of the president.”

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