Professor Christopher Schroeder testifies in Congress on Office of Legal Counsel interrogation advice

June 26, 2008Duke Law News

June 26, 2008 — Professor Christopher Schroeder, Charles S. Murphy Professor of Law and Public Policy Studies, testified today before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties, Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives. As a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice and acting head of that office in 1996-97, Schroeder’s testimony related to the role of OLC lawyers in advising the executive branch on the interrogation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Schroeder’s testimony was part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation into legal advice provided by the Department of Justice; the hearing is titled “From the Department of Justice to Guantanamo Bay: Administration Lawyers and Administration Interrogation Rules, Part III.”

In written testimony filed with the Subcommittee, Schroeder shared 10 “best practice” principles to guide the OLC that he compiled in 2004 along with 18 other former employees of the office who served across different administrations. “The group of 19 who participated in this exercise believe that when followed, these guidelines greatly improve the prospect that the office will deliver high-quality legal advice,” he wrote. The interrogation memoranda authored by OLC lawyers in 2002 at the heart of the Committee’s inquiry did not follow the practices identified in the OLC guidelines, and a number of elements of legal analysis in one of the memoranda “have been criticized for presenting inaccurate and implausible assessments of the applicable law, extending beyond criticism of their expansive claims of presidential authority,” he stated.

“These two facts are related. Failure to follow the guidelines quite likely contributed to the poor quality of the memorandum’s analysis of applicable law,” he wrote.

The director of Duke Law School’s Program in Public Law, Schroeder has served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also is of counsel to the firm O’Melveny and Myers, where he works primarily on appellate matters.

Download Schroeder’s prepared testimony to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Committee on the Judiciary, United States House of Representatives.

To schedule an interview with Professor Christopher Schroeder, contact Frances Presma at (919) 613-7248.
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