From everything I know, this is the model of legal advice that President Bush has expected of his lawyers, including OLC lawyers, with respect to the war against Al Qaeda. In Dana Priest's remarkable story the other day about the aggressive legal interpretations in this Administration in support of CIA covert action, there's this wonderful quotation from Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden about their approach to the law:This confirms what many of us have known for some time now (since, oh, about the time of the yellow cake lies) - Bush has no respect for the truth, or even the law, in his quest for power (cue epic fantasy-video game music, cue voice-over "Quest for Power!").
"We're going to live on the edge. . . . My spikes will have chalk on them. . . . We're pretty aggressive within the law. As a professional, I'm troubled if I'm not using the full authority allowed by law."
This confirms what I've read in several places and what I've heard from numerous lawyers in the Executive branch: What the White House has asked of them is not to provide the "best," or most objective, view of the law, but instead to read the law as aggressively as humanly possible so as to give the President the broadest possible discretion in preventing another domestic attack: Don't worry so much about exactly where the line is -- it's ok to get chalk on your spikes. Lives are at stake. [UPDATE: Confirmation from Newsweek: "The message to White House lawyers from their commander in chief, recalls one who was deeply involved at the time, was clear enough: find a way to exercise the full panoply of powers granted the president by Congress and the Constitution. If that meant pushing the boundaries of the law, so be it."]