UPDATED: DOJ Inquiry Suggests No Prosecutions Of Torture Memo Authors

(11:00AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

Crossposted from Antemedius

A new draft Department of Justice report, not yet approved by Attorney General Eric Holder, is recommending that Bush administration torture memo authors Jay Bybee, John Yoo, and Steven Bradbury not be prosecuted, but will apparently ask for disciplinary reprimands and/or disbarment by state bar associatons.

“The report by the Office of Professional Responsibility, an internal ethics unit within the Justice Department, is also likely to ask that state bar associations consider possible disciplinary action, including reprimands or even disbarment, for some of the lawyers involved in writing the legal opinions, the officials said,” reported the New York Times.

“The conclusions of the 220-page draft report are not final and have not yet been approved by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. The officials said it is possible the final report might be subject to revision, but they did not expect major alterations in its main findings or recommendations.”

“Lawyers familiar with the process said the department’s willingness-as recently as this week-to solicit responses from the former officials indicated that there were no plans to conduct a criminal investigation,” reported Politico. ‘They don’t let you comment if they’re going to refer you for prosecution,’ said one former Justice Department official, who asked not to be named.”

“The main targets of criticism are John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury, who, as senior officials of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel, were the principal authors of the opinions,” reported Mercury News.

“It was unclear whether all three would be the subject of bar association referrals. One person who saw the December version of the report said it did not recommend bar action against Bradbury.”

“Former US attorney Roscoe Howard, speaking to National Public Radio on the likelihood they will not face criminal prosecution, suggested it was hard to put a criminal case together: ‘You’d have to have some sort of information that those three guys understood that the memo was in itself just garbage. I’d be looking for something that shows they understood what they wrote was just unsupportable, but they decided they were going to write it anyway,'” reported the Guardian.

“The conclusions of the inquiry, which could be made public before the end of the month, provide details of how the torture memos came to be written, including the email exchanges of the lawyers involved, Bush officials at the White House and the CIA.”

“Yoo, in particular, submitted an extensive document disputing some of the review’s main contentions,” noted The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder. “These responses will be incorporated into the final draft, although the conclusions of the examiners will likely not change.”


9:15 AM PDT: Update from Michael Isikoff via David Edwards at RawStory:

…Michael Isikoff, the veteran investigative correspondent for Newsweek – says the report will be a bombshell and could recommend the impeachment of Bush White House counsel Jay Bybee.

“It’s fair to say this is the most eagerly anticipated report in legal circles in quite some time and the consequences are huge,” Isikoff told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Tuesday evening. “Even if the recommendation is simply – i don’t mean that to be dismissive – but a recommendation for bar disciplinary procedures against these lawyers would be like a bombshell in legal circles.

The “no criminal prosecutions headline that is getting a lot of attention tonight – I’m not sure that’s quite as significant as people think,” he said. “The office of professional responsibility is the ethics unit. It’s not the criminal division of the Justice Department. They don’t make decisions on criminal prosecutions and there’s an entire separate track of potential criminal investigations flowing from this as we reported this week in Newsweek an ongoing criminal investigation into the CIA destruction of tapes and e-mails in this report could well shed light for the criminal division so I don’t think this is by any means over yet.”


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    • Edger on May 6, 2009 at 14:21

    To each other?

  1. … I’m somewhat confused (ha!) by this.

    Was this report begun before Obama took office?

    Also, from what I read over at the orange, the OPR doesn’t have any authority to recommend or not recommend prosecution.

    And of course it’s been all over the blogs that the Bushies have tried to water down the report.

    Which makes me wonder how many Bushies are still in the DOJ and why Obama/Holder didn’t do the usual tradition of replacing all of them when Obama took office.

    Twists and turns … gah.

    • Edger on May 6, 2009 at 17:02

     for the FP

  2. …is that responsibly following leads (investigating) the torture program of Cheney/Bush will take years. Obama wants his presidency to be seen as one where he passes a Health Care bill/program, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are “defeated”, etc.

    Obama’s ego will not let him allow  other events, such trials of Bush officials, take up media space for the great achievements he has planned on.

    ps… Obama’s Health Care plan will be a joke (not for insurance co.s) and we will still be bombing wedding parties in Afghanistan (as well as Pakistan) in 2012.

    • rb137 on May 6, 2009 at 17:33

    My blood pressure needed a boost…

    Mind if I write a follow-up rant?

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