My post on the letters responding to legal arguments on wiretapping, and some of the feedback to it, got me thinking about two signals beyond mere political pigeon-holing, at least one of which is of greater substantive relevance. First, the DOJ memo has a very strange attribute -- its lack of attribution. It is not on anyone's letterhead or signed by anyone. When I was at OLC (in the first Bush administration and in the Clinton administration), everybody recognized the importance of the name(s) of the people at the top of a document -- it told you who, exactly, was putting his or her name behind a given DOJ document. I haven't followed DOJ practice closely, but the lack of any name struck me as odd, and perhaps significant.
Second, and more obviously significant, is the fact that Curt Bradley, along with Jack Goldsmith, has written articles that have (to oversimplify matters greatly) articulated A) a broader vision of executive authority than most other academics would adopt, and B) a particularly broad construction of the September 18, 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force statute on which the Administration attempts to rely. Jack Goldsmith probably feels constrained from joining the debate (given that he was at OLC for some of the period in question), but Bradley's joining of the letter criticizing the government's position seems quite significant. Bradley and Goldsmith considered the AUMF at great length and put forward a quite expansive interpretation of it. If Bradley nonetheless doesn't think that it provides a legal justification for the Administration's wiretapping, that tells us something -- and a good bit more than the fact that he's not on the political left