The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matt Jacob 202.408.5565

CREW Asks Attorney General to Investigate Destruction of Emails Relating to Torture Memos


Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the destruction of
emails of at least two former high-ranking Department of Justice (DOJ)
officials, John Yoo and Patrick Philbin, who were involved in drafting
the Office of Legal Counsel's (OLC) memoranda authorizing torture.Last week, DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) released a public version of a July 2009 report
examining the actions of the OLC officials and concluded they had not
violated any of their ethical obligations as lawyers. That report
revealed for the first time that OPR's investigation had been hampered
by the destruction of most of Mr. Yoo's emails as well as many of Mr.
Philbin's from the period when the torture memos were being drafted.

The destruction of emails from such high-ranking officials related
to such a critically important matter clearly violates the agency's
obligations under the Federal Records Act (FRA). Among other things,
the FRA requires agencies to preserve agency records and maintain
safeguards against their removal or loss. The destruction of the key
emails may also violate criminal laws, particularly if the destruction
was intended to impede the investigation into the origin and
preparation of the torture memos.

CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, "Given the
disappearance of millions of Bush White House emails, we shouldn't be
surprised that crucial emails also disappeared from the Bush Justice
Department." Sloan continued, "The question now is what is the Attorney
General going to do about it? Even if Mr. Yoo and Mr. Philbin did not
violate their professional obligations by writing the torture memos,
they - or others seeking to hide the truth -- may have broken the law
by deleting their emails."

Click here to read CREW's letter to Attorney General Holder.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.