A career prosecutor at the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has determined that John Yoo and Jay Bybee did not violate their professional obligations in analyzing whether certain enhanced interrogation techniques constituted unlawful torture.
As reported in Newsweek:
Needless to say, the claims of cover-up and conspiracy are starting to roll in (a little slowly at this time, but sure to pick up as the Newsweek piece was just posted a little after 8 last night):
While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry....
A Justice official declined to explain why David Margolis softened the original finding, but noted that he is a highly respected career lawyer who acted without input from Holder.
Mike Isikoff and Dan Klaidman put up a post about an hour ago letting the first blood for the Obama Administration’s intentional tanking of the OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility) Report. In light of Obama’s focused determination to sweep the acts of the Bush Administration, no matter how malevolent, under the rug and “move forward” the report is not unexpected.I'll have more to say on this as more outrage rises to the surface, but I'll repeat what I said before. The bringing of ethics charges against Yoo and Bybee was contrived and purely political. One could disagree vehemently with their analyses and conclusions without raising the matter to the level of legal ethics.
The politicized ethics charges were intended as a pretext to impeach Bybee (not sure it would have been legitimate grounds, but it would have been a pretext for hearings) and to drive Yoo from academia.
I hope the Newsweek report is correct. It remains to be seen whether the leak was part of a slow rollout of the decision (to temper left-wing howls) or to put political pressure on DOJ to rubber-stamp the lower-level finding of professional misconduct.
Update: There still are Bar complaints filed by liberal advocacy groups pending against Yoo, Bybee and other DOJ lawyers, including former AG's Ashcroft, Gonzales and Mukasey. A summary of the complaints with plenty of links is here.
These complaints are frivolous political gestures which will have a chilling effect, along with the already politicized DOJ proceedings, on the ability and willingness of government lawyers to provide legal advice which may not be politically correct from a leftist point of view.
And now it begins in earnest:
- David Margolis: Hatchet Man for Holder/Obama on OPR Torture Memos Report ("The role of Margolis, and the man himself, deserve a closer look. It does not take long to see that 40+ year DoJ veteran David Margolis has some skeletons in his closet, and that his track record is not unblemished.")
No Prosecution Because No Crime
Maybe Jay Bybee and Jamie Gorelick Should Be In The Dock Together
Can We Also Impeach Law Professors For "Legal Distortions"?
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook