Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Indefensible Parsing

That attorneys should never have stooped to wriggling around the law to justify WH criminal behavior is pretty obvious. That it's being documented is encouraging, but not the end of the subject. If disbarment isn't included, the whole system of laws is in deep trouble.

A long-awaited internal Justice Department report promises to shed some much-needed light on the relationship between the Justice Department lawyers who wrote the infamous "torture memos" and the White House. The central question, of course: Whether the lawyers were themselves just following orders.

The report has not yet been released -- or even finalized -- but a growing number of leaks make it clear that the internal inquiry concluded that the memos were legally indefensible.

The report also apparently includes e-mails between the lawyers and the White House. But what's not clear to me at this point is whether the report reaches a definitive conclusion about whether the wild legal arguments were the result of a profound lack of judgment by the lawyers or were consciously concocted to justify techniques the White House had already approved. (Or both.)

The inquiry has apparently concluded that two lawyers in particular committed serious enough lapses to merit disciplinary action by their state bars -- though not criminal prosecution. That suggests the investigators didn't find "smoking gun" evidence of a conspiracy to violate federal statutes. But there's sure to be a lot of fascinating material in their report nonetheless.
Josh Meyer and Julian E. Barnes write in the Los Angeles Times: "The OPR investigation found that memos attempting to make organ failure the defining line between pain and torture was something any lawyer would find unreasonable. It also concluded that Bybee and Yoo had violated a lawyer's duty to provide 'reasonable legal advice,' according to one source familiar with the report."

Tortured logic doesn't make anything all right. The American Bar Association must conclude that it either supports justice, or it isn't worthy of its role.

Disbarment, though, is not enough. Laws that can be broken with impunity are not binding or acceptable.

We must prosecute criminals, not suborn our own Rule Of Law.

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Blogger thomas said...

I got strip searched once because I (a large blue eyed blonde guy) bought a round trip back when USAit & United were cooperating, and by trip out was on USAir & back on United. I was searched because according to the guards I bought a 1 way ticket on United, & that was suspicious. I probably should have worn underwear that day.

4:17 AM  

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