Newsweek: Report Will Blast Bush Lawyers On Torture Opinions

February 16, 2009 7:27 am

Those Bush lawyers who approved torture may not be in the clear just yet.

Newsweek reveals that a report into the integrity of opinions given by Bush DOJ attorneys, approving water-boarding and other harsh interrogation techniques, is sharply critical of several top officials, including John Yoo, the author of the infamous “torture memo”.

A draft of the report — which was authored Marshall Jarrett, the head of the department’s Office of Professional Responsbility — was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. But it looks like Bush’s DOJ brass pushed back.

According to Newsweek‘s sources, former Attorney General Michel Mukasey, and his deputy Mark Filip, “strongly objected to the draft.” Apparently, Filip wanted the report to include responses from the three DOJers most heavily criticized — in addition to Yoo, that was Jay Bybee, another top department lawyer who wrote opinions authorizing harsh tactics, and Steven Bradbury, who ran the department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

A spokesman for the Obama DOJ told Newsweek it’s reviewing the matter.

It sounds like the report could contain be pretty hard-hitting. Newsweek says it’s focusing on “whether the memo’s authors deliberately slanted their legal advice to provide the White House with the conclusions it wanted.” According to one source, the investigators have obtained, in the magazine’s words, “internal e-mails and multiple drafts that allowed OPR to reconstruct how the memos were crafted.”

But Yoo et al. may not be in much legal jeopardy. Newsweek adds that, at worst, the report “could be forwarded to state bar associations for possible disciplinary action”.

It’s also not clear we’ll ever get to see the report. Jarrett told the Senate Judiciary committee last year that he’d inform them of his findings, but only that he’s “consider” releasing a public version.

If this isn’t an issue that deserves a full public airing, it’s hard to know what would be.

Masthead Masthead
Editor & Publisher:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Senior Newswriters:
Editor at Large:
General Manager & General Counsel:
Executive Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: