Torture Report Could Spell Big Trouble For Bush Lawyers

February 19th, 2009 by Andy in Human Rights (Torture & 'The War on Terror')


And, if there is a justice in the world, there should be big trouble for those who ordered these criminal acts. None of this is even beginning to touch some of the even bigger issues about ordering unwarranted invasions of other nations and the like, actions defined under Article 6 of Charter of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg, which we created in order to charge and prosecute those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and whose violation thereof warranted the execution of those responsible.

An internal Justice Department report on the conduct of senior lawyers who approved waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics is causing anxiety among former Bush administration officials. H. Marshall Jarrett, chief of the department’s ethics watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), confirmed last year he was investigating whether the legal advice in crucial interrogation memos “was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys.” According to two knowledgeable sources who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. It sharply criticized the legal work of two former top officials - Jay Bybee and John Yoo - as well as that of Steven Bradbury, who was chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the time the report was submitted, the sources said. (Bybee, Yoo and Bradbury did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)


But the OPR probe began after Jack Goldsmith, a Bush appointee who took over OLC in 2003, protested the legal arguments made in the memos. Goldsmith resigned the following year after withdrawing the memos, and 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 (challenged by many scholars) that the president could unilaterally disregard a law passed by Congress banning torture.

Read The Full Report

Marjorie Cohn weighs in on the issue with her piece Prosecute War Criminals and Their Lawyers, which points out that the U.S. is a signatory to the Convention Against Torture, which compels us to investigate and prosecute anyone accused of any act of torture within our jurisdiction (and actually we have the right to do it for those who committed these outside U.S. national territories as well).

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