Majority Leader Harry Reid has alleged that the Bush White House has offered to effectively trade off 84 nominees to the executive and judicial branches if the Senate confirms Steven Bradbury for head of the Office of Legal Counsel. It is another example of a made man in the Bush White House, who must be confirmed at any cost.
Bradbury is the author of some of the infamous memos justifying torture and has run the department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Despite the current scandal over the CIA torture tapes and widespread Senate opposition, Bradbury is one of those extremist lawyers who were positioned around Bush. As I mentioned last night on the Abrams report, he follows the model of other “made men” of the Bush White House. For the recent video of the Abrams Report, click here
Reid made these statements on the Senate floor this week. Click here for a video. The reason for this emphasis may be in part to Bush’s effort to cement his legacy. He has been very successful in getting the Democrats to sign on to aspects of his most controversial decision from the Iraq war to torture to unlawful surveillance. Democrats have repeatedly moved to prevent a confrontation over torture, as with their rescue of Mukasey’s confirmation and their refusal to order a serious investigation of torture by sending it to the intelligence committees (which knew of the torture program). By confirming Bradbury, Bush could again point to bipartisan support for one of the central players in the torture program.
What is most disturbing is that Mukasey is arguing that he will not allow a criminal investigation in torture because it was done on the advice of counsel like Bradbury. As noted here, it is a bizarre theory that if you pick extremist lawyers who tell you crimes are not crimes, you can engage in a prolonged criminal pattern.
Of course, Bradbury is not a major fight. The Democrats have already yielded on the most important fights from Mukasey to the torture investigations. Indeed, they seem to be willing to stand their ground on this one because it is not terribly important. He is the designated defendant of the Democrats desperate to appear active on the torture question. This is not to say that they should yield. Bradbury’s confirmation would close the circle for the White House. The Justice Department first claims that, while wrong, lawyers like Bradbury said torture was permitted and thus there was no crime. Then, Bradbury is then promoted despite his flawed legal analysis. It is enough to make a mob lawyer blush.
This week I am speaking to the ABA convention in Los Angeles. I have been speaking with lawyers and judges about these extremists in the Bush White House who have abandoned the most basic values of the legal profession in endorsing torture and the circumvention of legal process. They are the fallen among us and raise disturbing questions. People like Viet Dinh, John Yoo, and Bradbury are not stupid. They, however, embraced the very antithesis of our legal traditions in their service to Bush rather than the rule of law.