No Comment — February 22, 2010, 12:09 pm

Unredacting the OPR Report

As released, the OPR report is heavily redacted. No explanation is provided for the redactions, but the original contains a “top secret” classification, and it is likely that executive privilege, attorney-client privilege, and national security classifications figure in the decisions. Nevertheless, placement and circumstance suggest that a large number of redactions describe in detail meetings and discussions between the White House, the CIA, and the OLC lawyers working on the report.

Considering President Obama’s decision to terminate torture programs authorized by the OLC memos, all of which had already been rescinded before President Bush left office, it is not apparent how national security requires these communications to be kept secret. Far more likely, the redactions have been made to protect political figures at the White House and CIA, and potentially other agencies, from embarrassment. This is not a legitimate reason to black out the text.

A good example of potentially illegitimate redactions are those concerning repeated discussions about drafting the torture memoranda, which involve an unnamed OLC lawyer in addition to John Yoo and Jay Bybee. On p. 258, we learn that this lawyer “was a relatively inexperienced attorney when the Bybee and Yoo memos were being drafted. Although she appears to have made errors of research and analysis in drafting portions of the Bybee and Yoo memos, her work was subject to Yoo’s and Bybee’s review and approval. We therefore conclude that she should not be held professionally responsible for the incomplete and one-sided legal advice in the memoranda.” One woman working directly with John Yoo at OLC at this time was Jennifer Koester Hardy, now a partner in the Washington office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. In an apparent redaction oversight, Hardy is mentioned by name in a footnote.

Why was Hardy’s name redacted? She played an obvious and important role in the production of the documents. She made serious errors, which appear to be driven less by flaws in research than by a desire to produce an opinion that had the conclusions that David Addington wanted. The failure to identify key precedents and the malicious misconstruction of precedent is as much her fault as that of Bybee and Yoo. Hardy is also an ideological fellow traveler of Yoo’s and Bybee’s. In the midst of her work at the Justice Department, she took time off to serve as a clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas, with whom John Yoo also clerked. Moreover, while she was clerking for Thomas, he authored opinions relating to detentions policy matters on which Hardy was plainly engaged at the Justice Department. Like Bybee, Yoo and Thomas, Hardy is also active in the Federalist Society. Finally, her connection with the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis is important for several reasons. Mark Filip, who worked aggressively to derail or block the OPR report, and whose highly partisan engagement on the matter is disclosed in several of the documents disclosed on Friday, departed the Justice Department to become Ms. Hardy’s partner at Kirkland. It’s certainly possible that he was engaged in discussions with Kirkland in late January 2009, when he issued his opinion about the OPR report. The Kirkland firm has emerged as a distinctly Republican powerhouse, heavily populated with the party’s neoconservative wing, such as Jay Lefkowitz, Ken Starr, John Bolton, and Michael Garcia.

So why would Hardy’s name be redacted? Disclosure of her name might get in the way of a future political appointment. It might also lead to a review by a local bar association of her involvement with the torture memos, something which Margolis is keen to obstruct.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2018

Strandings

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Future of Queer

Swap Meet

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Newlyweds

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Body Politic

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Munich, 1938

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

Illustration by Steve Brodner
Post
CamperForce·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

Article
Destroyer of Worlds·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option. Seventy years later, we find his reasoning unconvincing. Entirely aside from the destruction of the blasts themselves, the decision thrust the world irrevocably into a high-stakes arms race — in which, as Stimson took care to warn, the technology would proliferate, evolve, and quite possibly lead to the end of modern civilization. The first half of that forecast has long since come to pass, and the second feels as plausible as ever. Increasingly, the atmosphere seems to reflect the anxious days of the Cold War, albeit with more juvenile insults and more colorful threats. Terms once consigned to the history books — “madman theory,” “brinkmanship” — have returned to the news cycle with frightening regularity. In the pages that follow, seven writers and experts survey the current nuclear landscape. Our hope is to call attention to the bomb’s ever-present menace and point our way toward a world in which it finally ceases to exist.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
Article
Crossing Guards·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ambassador Bridge arcs over the Detroit River, connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, the southernmost city in Canada. Driving in from the Canadian side, where I grew up, is like viewing a panorama of the Motor City’s rise and fall, visible on either side of the bridge’s turquoise steel stanchions. On the right are the tubular glass towers of the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, and Michigan Central Station, the rail terminal that closed in 1988. On the left is a rusted industrial corridor — fuel tanks, docks, abandoned warehouses. I have taken this route all my life, but one morning this spring, I crossed for the first time in a truck.

Illustration by Richard Mia
Article
“I am Here Only for Working”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

But the exercise of labor is the worker’s own life-activity, the manifestation of his own life. . . . He works in order to live. He does not even reckon labor as part of his life, it is rather a sacrifice of his life.

— Karl Marx

Photograph from the United Arab Emirates by the author. This page: Ruwais Mall

Factor by which the brightness of a recent supernova exceeded that of all the stars in the Milky Way:

20

Fetuses yawn.

Trump’s former chief strategist, whom Trump said had “lost his mind,” issued a statement saying that Trump’s son did not commit treason; the US ambassador to the United Nations announced that “no one questions” Trump’s mental stability; and the director of the CIA said that Trump, who requested “killer graphics” in his intelligence briefings, is able to read.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

Subscribe Today