* “Citizens United has been good for gay rights.” Well, at least it’s been good for something. Are we allowed to like the ruling in this case now? Bueller? Bueller? No? Okay, just checking. [New York Times]
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fate of Guantanamo Bay. The repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The rise of WikiLeaks. The raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound. The conflict in Libya.
On these and many other critical national security legal issues, one of the most important advisers to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama’s White House has been Jeh C. Johnson, General Counsel of the Department of Defense. In light of his role as senior legal adviser to the largest government agency in the world, responsible for the work of over 10,000 lawyers, it is no understatement to describe Johnson as one of the powerful and influential lawyers in the entire federal government.
I recently went down to Washington to interview Johnson in his office at the Pentagon. If you think security at your law firm is tight, visit the Pentagon. I had to pass through a metal detector and multiple security checkpoints before arriving at Johnson’s office, located on the E Ring within the mammoth structure — the world’s largest office building by floor area, with over 6.5 million square feet housing over 25,000 employees. (I was accompanied at all times by a member of Johnson’s staff, which prevented me from getting lost inside the maze-like complex.)
Before entering Johnson’s private office, I had to surrender my Blackberry – the office is a SCIF (pronounced “skiff”), or “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.” This means that it is specially designed to prevent eavesdropping, thanks to walls and doors of specified thickness and the use of jamming technologies. The windows of Johnson’s office, tinted a yellowish green, are blast-resistant and designed to preclude visual surveillance.
Once I made it to the inner sanctum, I was in for a treat. My wide-ranging discussion with Jeh Johnson covered his remarkable career path, which has included service as a federal prosecutor, partnership at a top law firm (Paul Weiss), and his current post as GC of the Defense Department; the virtues of public service, as well as the growing challenges for lawyers interested in it; and Johnson’s advice for law students and lawyers who aspire to careers in government (hint: keep your nanny on the books)….
* Was it Anthony Weiner’s wiener that went out over Twitter? The congressman isn’t saying. [Daily Caller via Instapundit]
* Professor Sasha Volokh floats the intriguing idea of prison vouchers: “What would the world look like if, instead of assigning prisoners to particular prisons bureaucratically, we gave them vouchers, good for one incarceration, that they were required to redeem at a participating prison?” [Volokh Conspiracy]
Here’s a nice surprise on this otherwise quiet Saturday afternoon in late December. The Senate just voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the legal ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. The vote to repeal the law was 65-31, with eight Republicans joining the Democrats.
For additional discussion and analysis, see the links below.
It was either a pic of Jenn Sterger or a vampire squid.
* The lawyer tasked with defending Obamacare paces hallways, muttering to himself. Good to hear Asperger’s is not a death sentence anymore. [New York Times]
* Three New Orleans cops were convicted of, well, going Lord of the Flies on some poor guy in the aftermath of Katrina. [CNN]
* Jenn Sterger says she won’t sue if the NFL suspen… you know what? Just click the link. [New York Post]
* So apparently federal prosecutor is a tenured position? [USA Today]
* Wake me up when DADT is actually repealed. Actually, don’t. If I’m sleeping, I doubt I need to be woken up just to find out that DADT has been repealed. That’s an insane reason to be woken up. [Washington Post]
* One soldier responded to the Pentagon’s DADT survey by asking “How far are we going to go with this whole gay thing? Am I supposed to celebrate gayness – do they get to wear a rainbow flag on their uniform?” Just the tip, sure, and only if they earn the badge. [Washington Post]
* Interpol has put Julian Assange on its most-wanted list. The Strokes did it better. [CNN]
* A European antitrust investigation of Google shows that size matters. For Bing, there’s ExtenZe. [Los Angeles Times]
* New York judges may be getting their first raises in 12 years. [New York Times]
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This year, the Trust Women conference will take place 18-19 November in London. From women’s economic empowerment to slavery in the supply chain and child labour, this year’s agenda is strong and powerful. Speakers include Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Laureate and founder of the Grameen Bank; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women; Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking and many other influential leaders. Find out more about Trust Women here.