Mr. Farren's history includes a stint with Reagan's Commerce Dept., a top advisory spot for the transition team and campaign of George H.W. Bush and most recently, the younger Bush's office of White House Counsel replacing an attorney accused of providing legal cover for violations of domestic surveillance statutes and illegally firing DOJ attorneys.
Farren was brought back into the White House in 2007 by Fred Fielding who on his first day in replacing Harriet Miers as chief counsel ordered warrantless surveillance to stop. Fielding had teamed with Farren in the private sector between federal appointments, representing Blackwater among others, while Farren served as chief counsel for Xerox Corp. spending over three decades on the government-corporate merry-go-round.
Mrs. Farren also worked as a high powered attorney for corporate energy interests such as Entergy, negotiating for favorable legislation with government agencies. According to New Canaan, CT police, Mrs. Farren appeared at the home of a stranger battered and bloody with a broken nose and jaw, children in arms aged seven years and four months, where she collapsed.
She later told investigators she had been emotionally abused by Farren and physically abused once before, reportedly coinciding with his last White House stint. At least according to Mrs. Farren then, there was a dangerous criminal serving as the #2 lawyer in the White House as they sought to fend off subpoenas and stonewall Judiciary Committee requests for information.
Though Farren was said to have shown a mean temper at work, former boss Fielding told reporters this was completely out of character for Farren, currently being held under suicide watch while he tries to arrange a $2 million bail bond for attempted murder. Farren had not worked since leaving his post as Deputy Counsel weeks before a Democratic win in the election loomed.
On the same day Farren's suicide attack allegedly took place, an appeal was made to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) by the Robert Jackson Steering Committee, requesting documents pertaining to Bush lawyers be made public to probe possible war crimes and disbarment actions.
Though the RJSC's request chiefly sought documents authorizing torture and misuse of pre-war intel, the White House legal team under Fielding and Farren also shielded their predecessors from testifying in Congressional hearings in never-before-seen legal claims of "everlasting" executive privilege.
Naturally, a lawyer's duty is to protect his client, but it is expressly not the job of legal counsel to newly interpret or create laws. Beyond John Yoo's controversial "torture memo", alleged abuse ranged from the DOJ firings to vote caging improprieties and more.When documents concerning the UK's handling of pre-war legal wrangling came to light, the attorney general there reversed his opinion that the Iraq war was in fact illegal.
Asked in a televised interview what he felt the legal precedent for his warrantless surveillance program was, President Bush said it's 'for the lawyers to figure out'. In reality, however, White House Counsel is only supposed to advise the President. If they were "the deciders", it would mean unelected, barely accountable lawyers are making our most important political decisions, outside of their purview.
Neither Bush nor Obama should be entrusting lawyers to determine U.S. law and in no case should evidence of this be hidden from the public. This tragic incident underscores the intense pressure Bush lawyers may have been under, mirroring a 2006 murder-suicide incident involving another Bush administration official who also worked in Reagan's Commerce Dept.
Mr. Farren clearly is not having a good week, but he sure has a lot less to lose than last week. Perhaps he can bound back and help restore American democratic integrity, providing crucial background on letters his department sent making claims that both Karl Rove and Harriet Miers could for the first time ever assert executive privilege after leaving office.
It was Farren's boss Fred Fielding who seemed to have spontaneously invented this neat executive power, barring Bush's advisors from answering Congressional subpoenas. Widely considered unconstitutional, Fielding essentially wrote a get-out-of-contempt-free card for his own position, retroactively.
This forced a showdown in the U.S. Court of Appeals where Rove and Miers were compelled to testify, though they eventually did so under extremely favorable secrecy. The momentum in prosecuting Bush era crimes has since waned, cementing wide public perception that Nancy Pelosi is a complicit deal-broker and that Obama sees no benefit in "looking backwards".
In light of the historical mistake made by President Clinton in similarly looking past the Iran-Contra affair, Obama and this Congress leave a questionable precedent in place, confirming Richard Nixon's bald assertion that the President is simply above the law but expanding this non-accountability to include a President's entire team.