press release


News from Progress Michigan

September 30, 2015

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574,

Questions Abound: Snyder Supreme Court Appointee Authored Secret Bush-Era Indefinite Detention Memo

What kind of involvement did Joan Larsen have with torture, interrogation and surveillance memos?

MICHIGAN — Gov. Rick Snyder’s appointee to the Michigan Supreme Court, Joan Larsen, helped author a legal document while at the Office of Legal Counsel regarding habeas corpus rights of detainees during the Bush Administration.

The document remains secret and is one of a number of documents sought by the ACLU and other civil rights groups. The document is listed on the rundown of “The Missing Memos” regarding “interrogation, detention, rendition and/or surveillance” put together by watchdog group ProPublica.

During Larsen’s tenure, the Office of Legal Counsel was notorious for offering specious legal justifications for Bush-era  policies, including the infamous “torture memos” authored by Larsen’s colleague John Yoo.

“Joan Larsen worked in the Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel during one of the darkest chapters of American history,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “Michiganders deserve to know whether their new Justice believes that torture is legal, that the 4th Amendment doesn’t protect Americans from extensive secret government surveillance and that they can be imprisoned without trial, among many other questions. We need to know whether Gov. Snyder adequately vetted Larsen before entrusting her with our precious constitutional rights.”

-Does Larsen believe the government  has the authority to imprison detainees indefinitely without charge, conviction or access to the courts?

-What was Larsen’s involvement in the “torture memos” authored by fellow Deputy Assistant A.G. John Yoo?

-What was Larsen’s involvement in OLC legal opinions justifying mass warrantless surveillance of American citizens inside the United States?

“Now that Gov. Snyder has appointed her to the Michigan Supreme Court, it’s time for a full accounting of her role in justifying torture, indefinite detention, and other human rights abuses,” Scott continued.


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