Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter
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Friday, March 06, 2009

Scott Lemieux is good on why the Yoo memos are so troubling: bottom line, we're lucky the worst fantasies we had about Bush didn't come true, because he was being counseled that he could do anything he wanted. "Among other things, these memos asserted that the "war on terror" might trump first and fourth amendment rights, that the Posse Comitatus Act would not prevent the military from being used for law-enforcement purposes if terrorism was involved, that statutory restrictions on warrantless surveillance could be ignored and that Congress could not in any way regulate the detention or interrogation of terrorist suspects."

I was surprised when the election went forward four years ago-- suspending it would have been just the sort of thing I could have imagined Bush doing. It was less likely to happen this last time-- Bush was clearly sick of the job, and even he must have realized that he'd made a thorough botch of it. What really disturbs me about the Woo memos, though, is that they are the exact sort of thing that good lawyers must never do. It is not our job to make stuff up. We are supposed to counsel our clients about what the law is, even if it is not something they want to hear. The quality of the lawyering in the Bush Administration was shockingly bad. John Mitchell was a crook and a thug, but he was Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch and Daniel Webster all rolled into one compared to the Bush crowd.

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