Office of Legal Counsel
Originally published 08/13/2013
Andrew Cohen is a contributing editor at The Atlantic, 60 Minutes' first-ever legal analyst, and a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.Earlier this summer, the Justice Department released to the public a trove of old Office of Legal Counsel memos. My Atlantic colleague Conor Friedersdorf already has discovered them and written about the eternally regrettable OLC memo justifying the ignoble fate of Japanese Americans in 1942 as well as a 1937 memorandum in which an otherwise forgettable administration lawyer (Golden W. Bell) courageously (and correctly!) told President Franklin Roosevelt that he couldn't censor a foreign speech by the ill-fated Leon Trotsky.Let me now add my voice to Conor's chorus. These memos are pure gold if you like history, or law, or politics, or some combination of the three. Here's how the Justice Department explained what they are and why they seem so relevant today....