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Titles of 13 New “Secret Laws” Revealed

“The Project On Government Oversight has obtained new details about legal opinions from the Justice Department’s secretive Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), including 13 previously unreleased memo titles, and the dates of memos whose titles remain redacted. Obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the newly released memo titles reveal some of the subjects this influential office has considered in the last two decades, from war powers to the board of the Kennedy Center. OLC interprets the law for executive branch agencies, issuing memos the agencies often use to guide policymaking and are expected to follow. The office’s opinions have been instrumental in greenlighting numerous controversial—and, in some cases, arguably unconstitutional—policies and programs, including torturewarrantless mass surveillance, and drone strikes. Critically, many OLC opinions are never made public, or even made available to Congress. The new records reflect the latest progress in POGO’s continuing efforts to chip away at this office’s excessive secrecy.

The 13 titles POGO obtained come as part of the most up-to-date listing of official OLC legal memos dating back to 1998, although the list remains far from comprehensive. The material POGO obtained ranges from a 2001 title on the “Kennedy Center Board of Trustees” to more politically charged titles from 2001 and 2003, respectively, on “The Constitutional Separation of Powers Over Foreign Affairs and National Security,” and “The President’s Authority to Provide Military Equipment and Training to Allied Forces and Resistance Forces in Foreign Countries.”…

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