The Torture Memo by STEPHEN GILLERS

Anyone who had half a brain and cared to look knew this was going on . . . a similar pattern of deceit, obfuscation and willful negligence as with the WMD issue . . . the Emperor Wears No Clothes . . . and no one near Bush or Cheney had the kajones to stand up to them . . . Well, those that did, lost their jobs, or worse . . . .

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080428/gillers
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The Torture Memo
by STEPHEN GILLERS

[from the April 28, 2008 issue]

The Justice Department is investigating the lawyers whose memos gave the Bush Administration the legal support it needed for waterboarding and other brutal interrogation techniques. We are "examining whether the legal advice in these memoranda was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys," H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel for the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, wrote to two Democratic senators in February.

The torture memos from 2002 were mainly the work of Jay Bybee, then head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and now a federal appellate judge in San Francisco, and Bybee's deputy, John Yoo, who has since returned to teaching law at the University of California, Berkeley. This month the Pentagon released a long-rumored torture memo from 2003 written solely by Yoo, which is even more adamant in its embrace of unfettered presidential power.

The memos are an abysmal piece of work, but they had great value to the President. Dismissing the Geneva Conventions and other law, they used the veneer of serious legal scholarship (abundant footnotes, many citations, long dense paragraphs) to create an aura of legitimacy for near-death interrogation tactics and unrestrained executive power. The memos had high credibility because they came from the OLC, the legal brain trust for the executive branch and (until then) the gold standard for legal acumen.

The press tends to overlook the lawyers when scandal breaks, focusing instead on their clients. That's understandable, but in public and commercial life no serious move is possible (no corporate maneuver, no new financial instrument, no war, no severe interrogation tactic) without legal approval. Even if the advice proves wrong, the client, if sued or indicted, can claim reliance on counsel.

When lawyers in private practice mess up, they face serious jeopardy. They can be fired, sued for malpractice, disbarred or prosecuted. Yoo and Bybee face no such risks. The President won't protest. He got what he wanted. And while a state disciplinary body can investigate, that is unlikely without Justice Department help.

Continued: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080428/gillers

Oops - typo: "kahones" with

Oops - typo: "kahones" with an 'h' . . . .