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Dawn Johnsen still not confirmed as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel

Professor Dawn Johnsen

Professor Dawn Johnsen

Periodically, I check to see if Professor Dawn Johnsen’s confirmation as Assistant Attorney General is getting any closer. Today, I came up this post over at Firedoglake. It pretty much sums things up:

Eleven months ago today, President Obama announced four people he intended to nominate for senior positions at the Department of Justice. David Ogden and Thomas Perrelli were confirmed on March 12, 2009, and Elena Kagen on March 19th.

Meanwhile, Dawn Johnsen — the nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel — waited.

Two weeks after these four were nominated, Obama announced four more people he wanted in senior DOJ positions. David Kris was confirmed on March 25th, and Lanny Breuer, Christine Varney, and Tony West were confirmed on April 20th.

And still Dawn Johnsen waited.

In March, Obama announced two more people for DOJ positions — Ronald Weich and Tom Perez. Weich was confirmed on March 27th, and Perez on October 6th.

And still Dawn Johnsen waited.

In April and May, Obama announced six more people for DOJ positions. Cranston Mitchell was confirmed on August 7th, and Ignacia Moreno and Lauri Robinson were confirmed on November 5th.

And still Dawn Johnsen waited, though now she had some company.

In October, Obama announced three more people for DOJ positions.

And still Dawn Johnsen waited.

Between June 4th and today, 34 people were nominated and 24 confirmed as US Attorneys.

And still Dawn Johnsen waited.

Between July 31st and today, 11 people were nominated and three confirmed as US Marshalls.

And still Dawn Johnsen waited.

The day before yesterday, David Ogden announced he would be resigning as Deputy Attorney General.

And still Dawn Johnsen waits.

The whole picture of the status of the process to fill senior ranks of the DOJ is here — note there are nine positions for whom no one has been announced as a nominee at all, including the top two positions at the DEA, the DOJ’s Inspector General, and the Director of the Office of the Attorney General. I have no inside scoop on this, but I can’t help but think that the delay in getting Johnsen confirmed makes it more difficult to find people willing to be nominated for those other nine positions.

Eleven months.

And still she waits.

And still she waits.

It is nearly criminal that this position has been vacant so long and that a person of Professor Johnsen’s caliber has not yet been confirmed. As the Obama Administration struggles with detainee issues, I cannot help but believe that the lack of an Assistant Attorney General is hurting decision making.

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.