White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler Vows Not to Let the White House Be Defeated by Actual Citizens

In an article describing how–in the guise of “flexibility”–the White House has continued the seeming relentless grab for unchecked executive power, White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler offers a terribly cynical explanation for the Administration’s asinine levels of secrecy regarding its drone strikes.

But in an interview, White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler acknowledged Mr. Obama has developed a broader view of executive power since he was a senator. In explaining the shift, she cited the nature of the office.

“Many issues that he deals with are just on him, where the Congress doesn’t bear the burden in the same way,” she said. “Until one experiences that first hand, it is difficult to appreciate fully how you need flexibility in a lot of circumstances.”

[snip]

Ms. Ruemmler said Mr. Obama tries to publicly explain his use of executive power, but says certain counterterrorism programs like the drone campaign are exceptions. Opening them to public scrutiny would be “self-defeating,” she said.

The WSJ doesn’t explain what she meant when invoking “self-defeat.” But her stance was described in a Daniel Klaidman article on the Administration’s decision, at a meeting in the Situation Room last November, to release more information about the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki.

Another senior official expressing caution about the plan was Kathryn Ruemmler, the White House counsel. She cautioned that the disclosures could weaken the government’s stance in pending litigation. The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act seeking the release of the Justice Department legal opinion in the Awlaki case. (The department has declined to provide the documents requested.)

That is, Ruemmler’s not making an argument about the efficacy of the drone strikes themselves; al Qaeda already knows who’s responsible for the arms raining down on their heads.

Rather, Ruemmler doesn’t want to be “defeated” by journalists, civil liberties organizations, and ordinary citizens seeking to at least understand, if not limit, executive power.

Kathy Ruemmler’s not waging her counterterrorism war against al Qaeda when she warns of self-defeat. She’s waging her counterterrorism war against us.

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6 Responses to White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler Vows Not to Let the White House Be Defeated by Actual Citizens

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Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @isamuel @copiesofcopies @OrinKerr Sure, but to be clear, Orin has an intelligent+reasoned position. May not be mine, but it is not invalid.
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emptywheel @ZaidJilani Have heard that from African friends: beatings learned from Britons. @Luvnbeer
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emptywheel @brettmaxkaufman It's their nice way of saying, "Damnit, we had hoped we could go v Klayman alone in the one favorable judgment" @aclu @eff
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emptywheel @mattapuzzo What about the covert forces on the ground? They're just killing everyone? @robertcaruso
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emptywheel @tbogg Not sure how much of this story would have come out if Goodell weren't lying his ass off so consistently. Scapegoated Rice.
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emptywheel @eljefekenney Or someone trying to protect him, yes. It's possible it's true, even.
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emptywheel @eljefekenney Dunno. Don't believe the parts abt Harbaugh, if that's your question. He CLEARLY knew more during his presser.
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emptywheel "Perhaps most visibly, Rice was the longtime spokesman for M&T Bank, one of the team's main sponsors " http://t.co/ZCOWvYAHl4
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emptywheel Glad @DVNJr's piece didn't drop till after Goodell's presser--more likely he'll go. But sort of wish it disproved the Mueller whitewash
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emptywheel @BrianF1959 Maybe. But trust me .Your depiction of what happened with public perception is utterly wrong.
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emptywheel @BrianF1959 To WHAT? To the public learning that Clapper lied? In what world?
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emptywheel @BrianF1959 About 5 people noted in real time it was a lie. Snowden exposed it as such to the public.
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