Friday, December 23, 2005

A Midlevel Aide Had a Big Role in Terror Policy

Some current and former officials said the urgency of events after Sept. 11 and the close ties that Mr. Yoo developed with Mr. Addington (who is now Mr. Cheney's chief of staff), Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Flanigan and the general counsel of the Defense Department, William J. Haynes II, had sometimes led him to bypass the elaborate clearance process to which opinions from the legal counsel office were normally subjected.


"They were not getting enough critical feedback from within O.L.C., or from within the Justice Department, or from other agencies," one former official said of Mr. Yoo's opinions. Officials said senior aides to Attorney General Ashcroft also complained that they were not adequately informed about some of the Mr. Yoo's frequent discussions with the White House.

Mr. Yoo said he had always duly notified Justice Department officials or other agencies about the opinions he provided except when "I was told by people very high in the government not to for classification reasons."

Addington: Yeah, is this the OLC? We're looking for someone over there who will give us some legal cover. Yeah, my boss, Cheney that is, has decided that he needs to have unlimited powers, forget the other two branches. Yeah, I'll hold.

Addington: You? No, I can't do it alone, we need someone from Justice, you know, to make it seem like this is a considered, somewhat objective opinion, not a power grab. What's that? Oh, John Yoo. Yeah, he'll do. Send him over.

Addington: One more thing...when he writes our opinions, I mean his opinions, make sure he writes "the president" in all the key passages. It'll be Cheney calling the shots, but the documents should say "the president." Thanks. Toodles!


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