Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Two? Who two? Yoo two?

"Former Bush Officials Work to Soften Ethics Report on Interrogations":
Former Bush administration officials are launching a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to urge Justice Department leaders to soften an ethics report criticizing lawyers who blessed harsh detainee interrogation tactics, according to two sources familiar with the efforts.

In recent days, attorneys for the subjects of the ethics probe have encouraged senior Bush administration appointees to write and phone Justice Department officials, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete.

A draft report of more than 200 pages, prepared in January before Bush's departure, recommends disciplinary action by state bar associations against two former department attorneys in the Office of Legal Counsel who might have committed misconduct in preparing and signing the so-called torture memos. State bar associations have the power to suspend a lawyer's license to practice or impose other penalties.
Hm. John Yoo and who else? Was Bybee a "department attorney"? Was Bradbury?

Before seeing this story, my money would've gone on Yoo and Bradbury. Bradbury's memos in 2005 didn't have even the dubious advantage of emergency, and were astonishingly weak. Plus, I am skeptical that even OPR wants to slag on a sitting 9th Circuit judge.

But Bybee, it seems, is not taking any chances ... and rightly so:
Two of the authors, Jay S. Bybee, now a federal appeals court judge in Nevada, and John C. Yoo, now a law professor in Southern California, faced a deadline of yesterday to respond to investigators.

Attorneys for both men did not immediately return phone calls or e-mail messages seeking comment on the reports. An e-mail to Yoo and to a court representative for Bybee also received no response. The attorneys for the men, Maureen Mahoney and Miguel Estrada, had been trying to garner support for their clients by contacting former senior Justice Department officials to prevail upon their successors in the Obama administration, sources said.

The legal analysis on interrogation prepared by a third former chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven G. Bradbury, also was a subject of the ethics probe. But in an early draft, investigators did not make disciplinary recommendations about Bradbury.
About this draft report: has the reporter seen it? If not, she should be quoting "sources" about what's in the report.

Working back channels to tilt the scales on an ethics report sounds like a whole independent ethics violation itself, thinks TBA.

And if OPR does call out Bybee, it will be interesting what that does for the impeachment debate.

Anyway, we continue to eagerly await the report itself, perhaps even moreso than the Star Trek prequel (out on May 9, should you happen to be asked).

... The NYT story leads with the news that criminal prosecutions are *not* recommended. I didn't notice this omission b/c I didn't realize that was even within OPR's scope.

This was interesting:
The draft report is described as very detailed, tracing e-mail messages between Justice Department lawyers and officials at the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency. Among the questions it is expected to consider is whether the memos reflected the lawyers’ independent judgments of the limits of the federal anti-torture statute or were skewed deliberately to justify what the C.I.A. proposed.
Such messages would be the hunting grounds for evidence of conspiracy, so perhaps these e-mails don't amount to much. But I'm very curious to see them. "Skewed deliberately" sure sounds like "conspiracy to commit torture" to me.

Nothing in NYT about pressure behind the scenes. Ha! Scooped!

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