Three lawyers who approved waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics are under investigation by the Justice Department for deliberately slanting their legal advice to provide the White House with the conclusions it wanted. If substantiated the findings could collapse any legal arguments that George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld might advance that they acted upon competent legal advice.
According to Michael Isikoff the investigation is sharply critical of the legal work of three former top Justice Department officials: Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury. Bradbury was chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the time the report was submitted.
H. Marshall Jarrett, chief of the department’s ethics watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), told Isikoff last year that he was investigating whether the legal advice in crucial interrogation memos “was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys.”
The report was submitted to the George W. Bush administration in the final weeks of their administration, but a final version may be adjusted to include responses from Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury. When a final version is presented to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. it could be forwarded to state bar associations for possible disciplinary action against the three.
According to Isikoff, the OPR probe was began in 2003 by Jack Goldsmith, a Bush appointee who took over OLC. Goldsmith, Isikoff says, protested the legal arguments made in memos by Yoo and Bybee. Goldsmith, who resigned in 2004, later wrote that he was “astonished” by the “deeply flawed” and “sloppily reasoned” legal analysis in the memos by Yoo and Bybee, including their assertion that the president could unilaterally disregard a law passed by Congress banning torture.
Should the report be released to the public it would publicly reveal how major decisions of Bush-era counterterrorism policy were made.
Isikoff, Michael, “A Torture Report Could Spell Big Trouble For Bush Lawyers,” at: http://www.newsweek.com/id/184801
Wikipedia, “Donald Rumsfeld,” at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Rumsfeld
Wikipedia, “Eric Holder,” at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Holder
Wikipedia, “George W. Bush,” at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_w._bush
Wikipedia, “Jay Bybee,” at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Bybee
Wikipedia, “John Yoo,” at:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Yoo
Wikipedia, “Richard Bruce Cheney,” at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Bruce_Cheney
Wikipedia, “Steven Bradbury,” at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_G._Bradbury