Justice Department probe blasts Bush lawyers over 'torture' memos
Ex-Bush administration lawyers who crafted the legal framework for waterboarding and other interrogation tactics – and assert that they do not constitute torture – may be on the verge of a bit of legal trouble themselves.
At least three former top Bush lawyers face possible disciplinary action from state bar associations for what a former Justice Department official has called "deeply flawed" and "sloppily reasoned" legal analysis.
Jay Bybee and John Yoo – who wrote last month that Bush's torture programs were initially designed to outwit crafty defense attorneys – have been "sharply criticized" in an internal Justice Department report, according to Newsweek. A draft of the report from the Office of Professional Responsibility, the department's watchdog unit, was submitted during the waning days of the Bush administration, but former Attorney General Michael Mukasey objected to it, according to the story.
Mukasey and his deputy wanted the report to contain responses from Bybee and Yoo, along with Steven Bradbury, chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the time the report was submitted. The OPR is now working to include the ex-officials' responses before presenting a final version to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.
The OPR is now working to include the ex-officials' responses before presenting a final version to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. If Holder accepts the report's findings, it could be forwarded to state bar associations.
Early last year, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers threatened to subpoena several former officials in the Bush administration – including Yoo – if they did not agree to testify about their roles in the preparation of the so-called "torture memos" that authorized severe interrogation tactics in the war on terror.
Last month, with days left in office and an abysmal approval rating, President Bush defended the use of waterboarding and other controversial tactics, saying "the techniques were necessary and are necessary."