Reports: DOJ Torture Memo Probe Clears Yoo, Bybee; Simply 'Poor Judgement'

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Reports: DOJ Torture Memo Probe Clears Yoo, Bybee; Simply 'Poor Judgement'

by
Justin Elliott

Torture-memo authors John Yoo and Jay Bybee who served in the Office of Legal Counsel can be referred to state bar associations for potential discipline for their role in writing memos that concluded torture was justified.

A long-awaited internal Justice Department report will essentially
clear the lawyers who crafted the legal justification for the Bush
Administration's torture policies, reversing the tougher findings of a
draft version of the report, according to Newsweek.

The draft version of the Office of Professional Responsibility
report recommended that John Yoo and Jay Bybee -- who served in the
Office of Legal Counsel and are now a law professor at Berkeley and a
federal appeals court judge in Nevada, respectively -- be referred to
state bar associations for potential discipline for their role in
writing memos that concluded torture was justified.

The Washington Post reports
that then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey was displeased with the
conclusions of the draft report when it was presented to him "at the
end of the Bush years." He sent it back for more work.

Newsweek explains what happened next:

[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.

According to Newsweek, the report will also detail the
involvement of the White House in the drafting of the torture memos.
That includes an incident in which Yoo visited Cheney aide David
Addington and then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales after a
conflict broke out within the administration over whether to give the
CIA a "blanket pledge not to prosecute its officers for torture."

Attorney General suggested
last year the OPR report would be released by the end of November, but
that's the last we heard about the report until now. Last week, the
ACLU sued to force the DOJ to release the report.

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