Herded Out of the Tribe

Thanks to Insty, you might have already caught Josh Blackman’s writeup of Laurence Tribe’s early Obama Administration agonies. Blackman called the sad story “a fascinating insight into how administration politics work,” and that’s certainly true enough.

But for me the real story is hidden in this one little detail:

Tribe envisioned himself as some sort of Rule-of-Law Czar to handle Guantanamo and other big issues.

Tribe was offered assurances of a high-level job. In 2009, he wrote a private letter to Obama suggesting a “newly created DOJ position dealing with the rule of law.” He seemed like an ideal candidate to sort out dilemmas like Guantánamo. “I thought that for me to be giving broader advice on constitutional issues would make sense,” Tribe says.

This position ostensibly would have been outside the normal DOJ hierarchy–Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, etc. The “czar” position would have hovered over a lot of turfs–among both political appointees and civil servants. He would have had direct access to the President himself. [Emphasis added]

It should take your breath away to realize that even a good liberal like Tribe thinks our Department of Justice needs an in-house official to school it on the rule of law.