WaPo: Bushies Lobbying To Water Down Torture Report

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May 5, 2009 12:47 p.m.

It looks like the Bushies are going all in to limit the damage from those torture memos.

The Washington Post reports that former Bush administration officials have launched a “behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign,” designed to pressure DOJ to soften its forthcoming ethics report into the lawyers who approved torture.The Post reports:

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.

At issue is the Office of Professional Responsibility’s long-awaited report into whether DOJ lawyers committed misconduct by authorizing harsh interrogation techniques. The Post reports that a draft of the report, prepared in January, recommends disciplinary action by state bar associations against John Yoo and Jay Bybee. State bar associations have the power to suspend a lawyer’s license, and take other actions. But such penalties would of course fall far short of recommending prosecutions — the step that many torture opponents have hoped for.

Yoo is currently a law professor in southern California, while Bybee is a judge on a federal appeals court in Nevada.

It has already been reported that former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and a deputy, were given a chance to weigh in on the report, and argued that its tone should be softened.

The Obama administration has avoided taking a clear position on whether to prosecute the lawyers who approved torture, citing the pending OPR report as a reason for moving cautiously.

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