Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has ratcheted up the dispute over the legal reasoning behind the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies.
Leahy issued a subpoena Tuesday to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, demanding that he provide a series of memos and other documents created by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The subpoena covers the written legal advice that the OLC has given to the executive branch regarding terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001 — or, at a minimum, an index of all such documents.
In an accompanying letter, Leahy argues that the Judiciary Committee can’t oversee anti-terrorism policies or the OLC itself without a full record. He accuses the Justice Department of “stonewalling.”
“Indeed, we have learned far more about OLC opinions from press accounts and books than we have from the Executive Branch,” Leahy writes.
In a news release, Leahy’s office says it has made at least eight other requests for similar information. It had not issued a subpoena before Tuesday, almost a month after the Judiciary Committee authorized Leahy to do so on a party-line vote.
The Justice Department released a statement saying it regrets the move by Leahy, “particularly since we have worked in good faith over the past several months to see that the Judiciary Committee’s legitimate oversight requests were being met in a manner consistent with the Justice Department's equally legitimate and longstanding need to provide confidential legal advice within the Executive Branch.”
The department says it will assess its next steps. The subpoena has a deadline of Nov. 18.