WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice today released two previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memoranda and seven previously undisclosed opinions.
"Americans deserve a government that operates with transparency and openness," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "It is my goal to make OLC opinions available when possible while still protecting national security information and ensuring robust internal executive branch debate and decision-making."
The two memoranda memorialized that certain legal propositions in ten OLC opinions issued between 2001 and 2003 no longer reflected the views of OLC and "should not be treated as authoritative for any purpose." They further explained that some of the underlying opinions had been withdrawn or superseded and that "caution should be exercised" by the executive branch "before relying in other respects" on the other opinions that had not been superseded or withdrawn.
In light of the legitimate and substantial public interest in many of the questions raised in those opinions and in the evolution of OLC’s views on those questions, the Department has released the six of those underlying opinions from 2001-2003 that are not classified and that had not previously been disclosed.
In November 2008, the Department filed a motion in a pending civil action to submit two of those underlying OLC opinions, along with one other, to the court under seal. The Department has determined that there is no longer any reason the three opinions should remain under seal and is therefore withdrawing its motion.
The opinions and memoranda are available at http://www.usdoj.gov/opa/documents/olc-memos.htm.