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Sen. Whitehouse Reveals Smoking Gun of White House Claiming Not to Be Bound by Any Law

Faiz Shakir: Whitehouse wanted to show the public "what the Bush administration does behind our backs when they think no one is looking."
This post, written by Faiz Shakir, originally appeared on Think Progress

This morning, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) delivered an impassioned floor speech to help frame the debate over FISA reform. Using his privilege as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Whitehouse said he has "spent hours poring over" secret opinions issued by the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) -- and he took notes.

Whitehouse is a lawyer, a former U.S. Attorney, a former legal counsel to Rhode Island's Governor, and a former State Attorney General. He said he sought and received permission to have his notes declassified because he wanted to show the public "what the Bush administration does behind our backs when they think no one is looking."

"To give you an example of what I read," Whitehouse said on the Senate floor, "I have gotten three legal propositions from these secret OLC opinions declassified. Here they are, as accurately as my note-taking could reproduce them from the classified documents":
1. An executive order cannot limit a President. There is no constitutional requirement for a President to issue a new executive order whenever he wishes to depart from the terms of a previous executive order. Rather than violate an executive order, the President has instead modified or waived it.
Faiz Shakir is the Research Director at the Center for American Progress and serves as Editor of ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report.