Patterico's Pontifications

1/30/2010

Justice Issues Report on Torture Memo Authors

Filed under: Law,Obama,Terrorism — DRJ @ 3:51 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman report the Justice Department has concluded its review of the Bush lawyers who authored the terror memos:

“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.”

It may make the left mad but the Obama Administration accomplished its goal: Make sure conservative lawyers think twice before they agree to work in a Republican administration or to author reports that go against liberal dogma.

H/T JVW.

— DRJ

34 Responses to “Justice Issues Report on Torture Memo Authors”

  1. We don’t need no stinking lawyers!
    …Dick the Butcher

    AD - RtR/OS! (90486b)

  2. According to the WaPo, a draft report was prepared at the end of the Bush Administration which suggested referral of the lawyers to their state bar authorities for discipline. Mukasey apparently went nuts and sent it back for reworking. When Obama’s folks came in, it was turned over to Mary Patrice Brown, Acting Counsel for the OPR since April 2009, who eventually turned her conclusions over to Margolis, a 30 year veteran of the DOJ.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  3. IOW, it sounds like it was softened because the politics were removed from it.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  4. Those children that went to DC to effect “Hope & Change” are unable to conceive that the political mood might swing drastically,
    and that it is they who might be referred for disciplinary actions at some point in the future.
    I suppose no one ever explained the “pendulum theory” to them.

    AD - RtR/OS! (90486b)

  5. The CIA and giving the govt. legal advice have certainly become unattractive careers, as has running for public office, .

    Somewhat related is this, in which Ron Radosh at PJMedia, using arguments developed by an historian, Martin J. Sklar, makes a case that Eric Holder could be impeached.

    The arguments are out of my scope, I’m a professional musician. What do the legal minds here think? Appetizing idea…

    jodetoad (7a7b8a)

  6. what do you call a bus load of liberals at the bottom of a lake?

    a good start.

    and if they’re lawyers?

    a celebration

    rumcrook¾ (4a9bee)

  7. thank God I think cause that was a fascist criminalization of policy…

    That stripping these guys of their livelihood was contemplated in our little country and very nearly happened is not a good omen about what’s ahead on the path we’re on.

    happyfeet (713679)

  8. He can be impeached but he can more readily be fired I think, jode.

    Mr. sdferr made that point today.

    happyfeet (713679)

  9. The problem, is the whole premise of disciplinary action against Bybee and Yoo, (who has totally pwned John Stewart and the Times’s DEbra Solomon,in recent weeks) was it was based on lies, about the ‘innocent’ detainees, about the programs, the interrogators, et al. The intent was to cripple any military or intelligence response to Salafism, read Courting Disaster,

    ian cormac (fb852e)

  10. Margolis’ reputation is beyond reproach.

    He is THE top career guy in DOJ, and has been the house “consigliere” to about 5 different AGs in both GOP and Dem administrations.

    Putting it in his hands was very smart — and I’m sure it satisfied all sides to the dispute because they all know him and they all trust him. They knew he would play it straight and not put his thumb on the scale for anyone’s position.

    OPR, on the other hand, is staffed by a bunch of hacks, who bring their political views to the table with them.

    Margolis is apolitical — his only interest is in getting stuff right.

    shipwreckedcrew (3d3fb8)

  11. Two areas badly in need of a new broom @ DoJ:
    the Office of Professional Responsibility (which doesn’t seem to have any, either professional, or responsibility);
    and the Civil Rights Division (which seems more in favor of creating rights out of whole cloth, and penumbras and emanations, than in actually enforcing the law).

    AD - RtR/OS! (90486b)

  12. Is Margolis the only person in DC that realizes that every pendulum…especially political ones… always swing back to the other side eventually?

    MAYBE he has laid a predicate for a truce in matters such as this by calling a cease-fire before the fire-fight really started?

    Nah…that is WAY too much Hope-it-Changes thinking…

    MJN1957 (6e1275)

  13. This is further proof–though surely none was necessary–that Eric Holder is a partisan hack who is all too happy to give free passes to Panther thugs at polling places, or terrorists (as long as coddling them will help Hillary win election in NY), or even Marc Rich, but who then–the treasonous imbecile–goes after the very Americans who were keeping us safe.

    Kevin Stafford (abdb87)

  14. Thanks, happy, I read the link. Only problem is, Obama would be admitting to a mistake, and he has never yet done that. Unless you count accepting responsibility for not communicating the delights of his agenda successfully to us knuckle-draggers, despite 400+ speeches. He probably thinks he used too many syllables.

    Oh, well, nice fantasy anyway.

    jodetoad (7a7b8a)

  15. “It may make the left mad but the Obama Administration accomplished its goal”

    OPR has been working on this for a while. What was the obama admin involvement in it?

    imdw (223a39)

  16. “Civil Rights Division (which seems more in favor of creating rights out of whole cloth, and penumbras and emanations, than in actually enforcing the law).”

    Your use of the well practiced phrases “creating rights” and “penumbras and emanations” displays that you’re really quite familiar with the work of the civil rights division.

    iimdw (89ba95)

  17. Imdw’s well practiced use of mendoucheous twatwafflery shows it is quite familiar with being disingenuous.

    JD (f0742b)

  18. Isikoff and Klaidman refer to “alleged 9/11 conspirators” and to the Underpants bombing terrorist “suspect.”

    Yet, the authors are not so dainty when it comes to labeling Bybee and Yoo. Those evil Bush handmaidens are said to have outright “violated their professional obligations….” No hint of a differing opinion, no mercy, just condemnation.

    However, the clever Newsweek writers make sure to put the damning words into the mouths of anonymous sources to cover their duplicity. And, they wonder why the public won’t buy their magazine.

    ropelight (2d1122)

  19. “Those evil Bush handmaidens are said to have outright “violated their professional obligations….” No hint of a differing opinion, no mercy, just condemnation.”

    The story is representing what was in the report. There is no “differing opinion” over what a previous version of the report said.

    But even then there *IS* a differing opinion presented. Again the one that was in the report: That they showed “poor judgment.”

    This is not that hard. You just have to read what is in front of you.

    imdw (6eb217)

  20. imdw

    Even claiming that Yoo showed poor judgment is wrong. Yoo was right. The blame for the contents of the report is not on him, for he was accurately representing the law, but on congress for writing such a vague law.

    Period.

    A.W. (f97997)

  21. #19, after reading the Newsweek article, my comment at #18 stands. Isikoff and Klaidman rely on what unnamed sources *say* is in the report. Below is a list.

    “…say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity… say the sources…say two sources who have read the report but asked for anonymity to describe a sensitive document…say the sources…the sources say.”

    Isikoff and Klaidman make no claim to have read the report themselves. Again and again they provide accounts of what their sources supposedly *say* is in the report. No direct quotes, just words in the mouths of unidentified persons.

    We have neither the report itself, or the name of anyone who will admit to having read it. What we do have is Isikoff and Klaidman telling us in their own words what they say others told them.

    ropelight (2d1122)

  22. Even claiming that Yoo showed poor judgment is wrong. Yoo was right. The blame for the contents of the report is not on him, for he was accurately representing the law, but on congress for writing such a vague law. Period.

    “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land …” — US Constitution, Article VI

    “1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

    “2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

    “3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.” — UN Convention Against Torture, Article 2 (ratified by the US Senate on October 21st, 1994

    “Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.” — op. cit, Article 4

    1. Each State Party shall ensure that education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of law enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.

    “2. Each State Party shall include this prohibition in the rules or instructions issued in regard to the duties and functions of any such persons.” — op. cit., Article 10

    The only question is whether Yoo and Bybee were a) ignorant of the law, b) intentionally in violation of the law, or c) stump-stupid. The report allegedly concludes (c).

    Thomas L. Knapp (f1a580)

  23. “… well practiced phrases…”

    When entire orgainizations are punished for an “in-equality of outcome“, instead of for violating an individual’s civil-rights (since only individuals have rights, not groups),
    then penumbras and emanations are the only explanation for the legal “reasoning” used in the Un-Civil Rights Division.

    AD - RtR/OS! (951da8)

  24. c) stump-stupid. The report allegedly concludes (c).

    And the USC proscribes stupidity where?

    AD - RtR/OS! (951da8)

  25. “The report allegedly concludes (c).”

    Thomas – Do you have the report citation or is this another of your asspulls? We do have the Yoo and Bybee memos and commenters can judge for themselves whether they appear stump stupid. They sertainly did not read that way to me.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  26. Thomas – Are you really that dense?

    JD (00db08)

  27. daleyrocks,

    You write: “Do you have the report citation …?”

    No. That’s why I used the word “allegedy.” I’m characterizing it on the basis of the Isikoff/Klaidman report that this article is about.

    Thomas L. Knapp (f1a580)

  28. Thomas can’t be that stump stupid, look at his awesome wall ‘o text cut and pasting powers.

    Dmac (539341)

  29. I’m characterizing it on the basis of the Isikoff/Klaidman report that this article is about.

    Who work for Newsweek, who used “unnamed” sources (aka Bullshit) allegedly telling them what the report means – no bias there, according to Thomas. Case closed.

    Assclown.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Dmac (539341)

  30. Dmac,

    Check your premises. It’s not possible to reasonably get from the fact that I characterized a Newsweek reports allegations as, um, ALLEGED, to the conclusion that I characterized those allegations as “no bias, case closed.”

    For the record:

    1) I do not think that Yoo and Bybee are stupid.

    2) I do think that it’s fair to characterize the Newsweek story as claiming that DoJ is treating them as stupid.

    3) Whether the Newsweek story is accurate or not I don’t know, don’t claim to know and won’t know until (and unless) I see the actual DoJ report.

    Thomas L. Knapp (f1a580)

  31. Whether the Newsweek story is accurate or not I don’t know, don’t claim to know and won’t know until (and unless) I see the actual DoJ report.
    Comment by Thomas L. Knapp — 1/31/2010 @ 2:32 pm

    Would you like the Yoo Memo itself? I don’t happen to have the DoJ report.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)

  32. Comment by Dmac — 1/31/2010 @ 2:14 pm

    Newsweek, who authoritatively reported to us how Korans were being flushed down toilets at GITMO.

    I believe!

    AD - RtR/OS! (951da8)

  33. Stashiu,

    Which Yoo memo? I’ve read several. My conclusions do not match Newsweek’s.

    As far as I can tell, the instant complaint that some people have with me is not about what I think about the memos (my opinion falls under classification b), but rather about my interpretation of the Isikoff/Klaidman claims pertaining to the DoJ report on the memos (I interpret those claims as falling under classification c).

    Thomas L. Knapp (f1a580)

  34. The one usually under discussion is addressed to William J. Haynes II, General Counsel of the Department of Defense and dated March 14, 2003.

    Stashiu3 (44da70)


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