Who Is David Addington?

A federal judge today struck down portions of the USA Patriot Act as unconstitutional, ordering the FBI to stop issuing “national security letters” that secretly demand customer information from Internet service providers and other businesses.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in New York ruled that the landmark anti-terrorism law violates the First Amendment and the Constitution’s separation of powers provisions because it effectively prohibits recipients of the FBI letters (NSLs) from revealing their existence and does not provide adequate judicial oversight of the process.

Marrero wrote in his 106-page ruling that Patriot Act provisions related to NSLs are “the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.”

The decision has the potential to eliminate one of the FBI’s most widely used investigative tactics. It comes amid widespread concern on Capitol Hill over reported abuses in the way the FBI has used its NSL powers.

An internal FBI audit earlier this year found that the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times while using NSLs to collect data about domestic phone calls, e-mails and financial transactions in recent years. Those findings followed an earlier audit by the Justice Department’s inspector general, which found a much smaller number of violations in a narrow sampling.


Froomkin (Yesterday’s column) with more on Addington:


[LEFT]Addington once expressed his general attitude toward accommodation when he said, “We’re going to push and push and push until some larger force makes us stop.” He and, I presumed, his boss viewed power as the absence of constraint. These men believed that the president would be best equipped to identify and defeat the uncertain, shifting, and lethal new enemy by eliminating all hurdles to the exercise of his power. They had no sense of trading constraint for power. It seemed never to occur to them that it might be possible to increase the president’s strength and effectiveness by accepting small limits on his prerogatives in order to secure more significant support from Congress, the courts, or allies. They believed cooperation and compromise signaled weakness and emboldened the enemies of America and the executive branch. When it came to terrorism, they viewed every encounter outside the innermost core of most trusted advisers as a zero-sum game that if they didn’t win they would necessarily lose.[/LEFT]

Morning Edition, October 2, 2007 · Former Justice Department official Jack Goldsmith is due to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about preserving civil liberties while fighting terrorism. A request to discuss classified legal opinions at a separate closed door hearing was denied.

Audio of the broadcast available on the site.


WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 — Jack L. Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor who led the Justice Department office that objected to a Bush administration domestic eavesdropping plan, told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the situation became a “legal mess” because the White House did not believe either the courts or Congress had any role to play.

Professor Goldsmith told the Judiciary Committee that chances to create a legally justified program were undercut by senior White House officials who were averse to any restraint on presidential power and devoted to extreme secrecy.

“It was the biggest legal mess I had ever encountered,” said Professor Goldsmith, who raised his objections to the program run by the National Security Agency while head of the Office of Legal Counsel.

He also said David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s counsel, told him that his position might mean failure to halt a new terrorist attack that would leave him with the blood of thousands on his hands. Professor Goldsmith was greeted largely as a hero by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who praised him for standing up to enormous pressure with his objections.

Although he was a prominent in-house dissenter, Professor Goldsmith took pains in his remarks to dispute the notion that the administration was indifferent to legal constraints in fighting terrorism. “In my experience, the opposite is true,” he said. “The administration has paid scrupulous attention to law.”

Nonetheless, he wrote in his book “The Terror Presidency” that he found many of the legal opinions undergirding the Bush administration’s antiterrorism policies “sloppily reasoned, overbroad and incautious in asserting extraordinary constitutional authorities on behalf of the president.”

Associates at the Justice Department said Mr. Gonzales seldom resisted pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney and David S. Addington, Mr. Cheney’s counsel, to endorse policies that they saw as effective in safeguarding Americans, even though the practices brought the condemnation of other governments, human rights groups and Democrats in Congress. Critics say Mr. Gonzales turned his agency into an arm of the Bush White House, undermining the department’s independence.

Good and very disturbing catch.

Man, I wish there was some moderate cabal of Middle Eastern leaders we could make a deal with. You give us the head of bin Ladin, his top officers as well, and we’ll hand over Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Addington. Hell, they can have Ari Fleischer as a deal sweetener.

Then we all call it even and move on.

The Boss gets some primetime


Who would of thunk it

The accounts indicate that the involvement of White House officials in the discussions before the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was more extensive than Bush administration officials have acknowledged.

Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David S. Addington, who was the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and is now his chief of staff; John B. Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel.

I want Gonzalez to be called before Congress or the CIA tapes judge and have Lehey or the judge say, “If you say ‘I can’t recall’, I’m holding you in contempt of court/congress.”

The historic Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House caught fire this morning, and D.C. firefighters broke windows and doused the second and third floors with water to extinguish the two-alarm blaze.

The only reported injury from the fire appeared to be a minor laceration to the hand of a U.S. Marine who is stationed at the building, D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said.

The extent of water, fire and smoke damage to the ornate, late-19th-century building just west of the White House was not immediately clear.

The Eisenhower Building, formerly known as the Old Executive Office Building, was built between 1871 and 1888 in the French Second Empire style. It is one of the best examples of that architectural style in the United States, according to the White House Web site. Supervising Architect of the Treasury Alfred Mullett designed the five-story structure, which has an exterior of granite, slate and cast iron.

The building originally included the State, War and Navy departments. Today it houses the majority of the White House staff, including aides to the vice president, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Council.


I’m just sayin’…maybe they’ve gone over their shredding budget?!

Holy cow! Someone please wager it wasn’t the Vice Presidential offices. Make your bets now!

You lose! Story updated:

But a source with knowledge of the fire said the flames began in a utility closet off Vice President Cheney’s ceremonial office on the second floor. The flames were confined to the closet, but a significant amount of smoke raced through the building, the source said.


Damn I’m good.

Utility closet or…

man-sized safe?

this one might actually have some substance that will stick to someone


So it should have come as no surprise when the New York Times reported last month that David S. Addington, Cheney’s chief of staff and former legal counsel, was among the three White House lawyers who participated in at least one key meeting about the videotapes in 2004.

(For background on Addington, the indomitable and secretive agent of Cheney’s will, see this May 2006 profile by Chitra Ragavan in U.S. News; this July 2006 profile by Jane Mayer in the New Yorker, and my Sept. 5 column.)

The initial spin from the White House was that only Harriet E. Miers, then a deputy White House chief of staff, had been briefed about the tapes – and that she had advised against their destruction.

But with anything related to torture, it’s pretty clear the CIA took its orders from Cheney – via Addington. And how plausible is it that, in his exchanges with the CIA, Addington advised against the tapes’ destruction? Or that the CIA would have done it if he had told them not to? Isn’t it more likely that he supported the idea, either overtly or with a nod and a wink?

So one has to wonder what will happen if Addington is hauled in front of a grand jury to testify not just about his relevant conversations with the CIA, but about his conversations with Cheney.


So one has to wonder what will happen if Addington is hauled in front of a grand jury to testify not just about his relevant conversations with the CIA, but about his conversations with Cheney.

He’ll lie. And, if he’s called on it, he’ll get a pardon.


We have a winner.

i resepctfully disagree. i don’t think they can call a grand jury, have them testify and then charge, try and convict anyone of perjury in the next 12 months. By the time any of this shakes out, this ain’t no good anymore

And now for a wonderful Glenn Greenwald riff on Addington’s Tonto over in the DOJ, John Yoo:


It bugs the shit out of me every time I hear or see Yoo held forth as a reasonable proponent of the Administration’s view.

The section of the torture memo where he said it was cool to do anything short of causing major organ failure should be tattoed on his big fat forehead and he should be forced to build a naked Abu Garib style human pyramid with Cheney, Addington, Bush, Rumsfeld et al, every time he speaks. But it won’t happen. Sigh.