When Will President Obama Nominate a New Legal Adviser?

By John Bellinger
Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 8:20 AM

Speaking of agency general counsels (as I did in my post yesterday morning about the appointment of Jim Baker as FBI General Counsel), many foreign governments are wondering when President Obama will nominate a new State Department Legal Adviser.   The position has been vacant for more than a year, since Harold Koh left in January 2013.  For an Administration that has made a big deal of its commitment to international law and international engagement, the failure to nominate a Legal Adviser to engage with other countries on drones, NSA surveillance, and other controversial issues is perplexing and disappointing.   A number of names have been rumored but the White House has been inexplicably slow to make a decision.   Fortunately, Secretary Kerry and the State Department are well-served by Acting Legal Adviser (and Principal Deputy Legal Adviser) Mary McLeod, who has served in the Legal Adviser's office for  more than 37 years and appears likely to be acting for at least a few more months.