Gavel Grab

'Torture Memo' Authors Won't Be Disciplined

It’s official: there will be no discipline for two former Bush administration lawyers who had  a role in drafting the legal policies that permitted harsh interrogation of detainees.

The Justice Department issued a report concluding the two lawyers “exercised poor judgment,” but it did not go so far as to find they had engaged in “professional misconduct” and should be disciplined, the Washington Post reported. The two are Judge Jay Bybee, who sits on a federal appeals court in Nevada, and John S. Yoo.

In months preceding the final Justice Department report, Judge Bybee had been the target of some critics urging impeachment. But Justice at Stake executive director Bert Brandenburg took issue with that approach, calling impeachment of judges for their legal views the “atomic bomb of American politics” and warning that impeaching Judge Bybee  for his memos on interrogating detainees would set a dangerous precedent (see Gavel Grab posts.)

Following release of the Justice Department report, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has urged Judge Bybee to resign from the bench. A lawyer for the judge, however, labeled the report’s finding a “vindication” of her client.

That view was disputed by a Los Angeles Times editorial saying the Justice Department report was “far from a vindication for John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee’s shamefully narrow interpretations of laws against torture and extravagant views about presidential power.” The Washington Post published an editorial entitled, “No punishment for torture memos’ authors, but no exoneration, either.”

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