I’ve now completed reading the
March 14th OLC opinion
. As you might expect, there is a great deal within it that warrants very careful attention and analysis. There is nothing like it in our long legal history, as far as I know. After all, how often is it that a Department of Justice memo is issued that matter-of-factly argues that the commander in chief can authorize pouring corrosive acid on a detainee
can authorize cutting out a tongue and poking out an eye
nothwithstanding a statute that would prohibit that very conduct?
I think what I’ll do is to publish a series of numbered posts (this is No. 4 — N umbers 1-3 are at Balkinization ), each centering on a discrete topic or portion of the memo. My reactions must, of course, be tentative and preliminary: I have not yet had the time to research most of these questions or to give them the attention (some of them) might deserve. But I hope that by the end of the endeavor, we’ll be able to see clearly just how radical and extraordinary this memo was.
Before I start in on the memo itself, however, I’ll begin with a handful of posts about process and ramifications rather than the specific substantive issues raised.