Looking Backward: Justice at the DOJ (?)

(8 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Dan Froomkin usually has some interesting things to say about what’s going on in Washington.  Usually, his perspective his detailed enough to be interesting, but not so overly wonkish as to be aimed at insiders.

He has a good look today at what’s going on at the Department of Justice regarding the torture memo years –

Michael Isikoff wrote for Newsweek on Saturday: “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 then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his deputy, Mark Filip, strongly objected to the draft, according to the sources. Filip wanted the report to include responses from all three principals, said one of the sources, a former top Bush administration lawyer. (Mukasey could not be reached; his former chief of staff did not respond to requests for comment. Filip also did not return a phone message.) OPR is now seeking to include the responses before a final version is presented to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. ‘The matter is under review,’ said Justice spokesman Matthew Miller….

“OPR investigators focused on whether the memo’s authors deliberately slanted their legal advice to provide the White House with the conclusions it wanted, according to three former Bush lawyers who asked not to be identified discussing an ongoing probe. One of the lawyers said he was stunned to discover how much material the investigators had gathered, including internal e-mails and multiple drafts that allowed OPR to reconstruct how the memos were crafted. In a departure from the norm, Jarrett also told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee last year he would inform them of his findings and would ‘consider’ releasing a public version. If he does, it could be the most revealing public glimpse yet at how some of the major decisions of Bush-era counterterrorism policy were made.”

I see the DOJ (and the whole regulatory structure of the executive branch) during the Bush years as similar to the performance (or lack thereof) of the bond rating agencies.

A regulator who never says no is not a regulator.

And legal “experts” whose legal opinions somehow always coincide with whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish are not lawyers, they are sycophants.

So, the wheels are turning…

Speaking of which

Speaking of Rove, Marisa Taylor and Margaret Talev write for McClatchy Newspapers: “The Obama administration is asking for two more weeks to weigh in on whether former Bush White House officials must testify before Congress about the firings of nine U.S. attorneys.

“The request comes after an attorney for former Bush political adviser Karl Rove asked the White House to referee his clash with the House of Representatives over Bush’s claim of executive privilege in the matter.

“House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., has issued a subpoena requiring Rove to appear next Monday to testify about the firings and other allegations that the Bush White House let politics interfere with the operations of the Justice Department…”

I don’t expect the Obama administration to deliver everything all at once, but if it delivers enough over and over, it will eventually tip the scales in the right direction.

I remember in 2005, as one thing after another went wrong for the Bushies, little by little the scales were tipped, until Katrina finally did them in.


  1.  – but a journey of a 1000 miles is made up of innumerable individual steps.

  2. I see it much the same as “the intelligence was being built around the policies” in the run-up to Iraq.

    Richard Clarke had similar experiences, for example:

    Clarke further comments that George W. Bush pressured him and other intelligence officials to create an official report linking Iraq and Al Quaida. When Clarke’s report clearly stated that Iraq had no relationship with Al Quaida, he was told that his report had the “wrong answer” and that he should come back with a new report. Clarke says that all the intelligence Bush had told him that Iraq “did nothing to threaten us.” Yet, Bush chose to ignore this intelligence.

    I think this kind of thing was standard procedures with the Bush Administration.

    I’m sure that Yoo and Bybee were following orders from Bush and Cheney not only to produce the memos, but as to their content, as well.

    Here’s Isikoff on Rachel Maddow’s show:

Comments have been disabled.