Monday, June 28, 2004

Tedster update

Following up on my speculation that Ted Olson's sudden departure as Solicitor General may have been related to the Abu Ghraib mess, Salon had an item the other day indicating it wasn't Abu Ghraib, but today's ruling on "enemy combatants" -- in which the Bush administration largely received a slap upside the head -- that induced Olson to step aside.
The Washington Post reports that Olson was "known inside the Justice Department to be unhappy that he was not informed about controversial memos authored by the Office of Legal Counsel on the use of harsh interrogation methods on detainees overseas." The head of that office, Jack L. Goldsmith III, announced his resignation last week.

By announcing his own departure Thursday, Olson may be hoping to head off suggestions that he resigned as a result of unfavorable Supreme Court rulings related to the torture issue. The Supreme Court will likely issue its decisions next week in cases involving "enemy combatants" Jose Padilla and Yaser Hamdi and the detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay. Justice Department lawyers are braced for what Newsweek calls a "crushing defeat" in those cases, so much so that they're scrambling to find alternative theories for keeping Padilla in prison.

Olson seemed to acknowledge, albeit obliquely, that he was getting out ahead of the storm. He told the Post he wanted to announce his resignation before the court issues its final decisions of the term because it's "going to be a big deal next week."

The item goes on to note that while the Tedster's inimitable style simply can't be replaced, Paul Clement is likely to be Olson's successor. Bet that catches Eric Muller's attention.

[Thanks to R. Prichard at Table Talk for the Salon pointer.]

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