Disintermediation, Information, and Legal Advisers

As I teased here, Opinio Juris has announced that the State Department’s legal adviser, John Bellinger, will be blogging on the record at OJ next week. According to Roger Alford:

The format will be as follows. Bellinger will post six posts over the course of next week. The discussion will begin on Monday morning with an introduction to the Legal Adviser’s office, and then turn to substantive discussions of the treatment of detainees, international humanitarian law, and sovereign immunity.

Bellinger has kindly agreed to permit open comments to all his posts. As is typical for this blog, we expect and anticipate that all comments will be substantive, responsive, and civil. The permanent contributors will moderate any comments that depart from this norm. We also have invited prominent scholars and commentators to post as guest respondents. Bellinger will conclude his stint as a guest blogger with a final post that responds to some of the more salient comments during the week.

This is a pretty exciting event. (Although not perhaps as exciting as if A.G. Gonzeles or the Chief had blogged, our readers’ top two predictions).

Can anyone think of other examples of blogging “on the record” by an adminstration lawyer? I can’t – although the White House runs chats by officials – including Gonzales – that have some of the same interactive components as blogging. Obviously, given OJ’s audience, we might imagine that this particular effort is an attempt by the Administration to effect a detente with the community of international lawyers that make up OJ’s primary reading audience. (Or more cynically, to continue to carry on a bureaucratic guerrilla war against Addington’s view of IL.) Such openness is to be encouraged. If blogs evolve toward forums where public officials, practitioners, and professors can come together to talk about legal issues, the legitimacy worries that agonize some will surely fade away.

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