16 May 2017

Rose Mary's Baby

A long time ago, in reclaimed swampland just shy of 4600 kilometers away, Rose Mary Woods said she caused an 18½-minute gap in a tape. Leaving aside for the moment the contortions involved (of both her physically and the truth), I'm not sure whether I really want to know what was in that gap, one of the key reasons that the then-President resigned.

Application of this excursion down amnesia lane to recent events in the same damned building is left as an exercise for the student.

* * *

When pontificating, it's always helpful to remember what you're actually pontificating about. Even, and perhaps especially, when talking about the ethics of serving a hyperpoliticized/hyperpartisan administration. The article's list of "the five additional factors that inform decisions at [licensed professional] level" in the administration include only:

  1. Service to the President and Administration
  2. Political Pressure
  3. Institutional Commitment
  4. Reputation
  5. Personal Integrity

The problem is that there's an overriding factor that neither this list nor the remainder of the article acknowledges explicitly; it is, at best, buried as an implicit consideration (but only consideration) in the third factor. Any military officer knows what it is: The mission. For military officers, it is "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." In our oath of office, that comes before respecting the chain of command or doing anything else. It is the mission statement.

Nowhere in that article do I see an acknowledgement that the mission comes first, and must be properly defined (not just "killing commies for mommy"). If, indeed, the OLC operated that way, it explains a great deal about other lawyer problems. For every member of the Administration — not just military officers, but all officers of the United States, whether of grand title or merely "inferior officers" — the Constitution comes first. The object of power may be power, but the definition of power is the Constitution. It's too easy for apparatchiks to forget that… and, apparently, too easy for lawyers (and law professors) to do so, too.

Since it's finals time, I'll give that article a C.