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DOJ to Clear Torture-Memo Authors Yoo, Bybee of Wrongdoing

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  • DOJ to Clear Torture-Memo Authors Yoo, Bybee of Wrongdoing

    We’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for news to come down from the Justice Department on what might become of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the two Bush administration lawyers largely responsible for authoring the famous torture memos.

    Well, we finally have word. And it appears that the DOJ will largely let the pair go with little more than a slap on the wrist. Click here for the story from Newsweek, which broke the news; here for a followup from over the weekend from the Washington Post.

    According to a forthcoming ethics report issued by the DOJ’s ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility, Yoo and Bybee will be wrist-slapped for exercising poor judgment but will not be referred to authorities for possible sanctions.

    The news represents a bit of a reversal from what the DOJ had initially concluded, it seems. A draft report prepared at the end of the Bush years recommended that Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and Bybee, now a federal appeals court judge in Nevada, be referred to state disciplinary authorities for sanctions that could have included the revocation of their licenses to practice.

    But then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip blasted the analysis in the draft and sent it back to the ethics office for more work. Current AG Eric Holder assigned the project to his new leader of the professional responsibility office, veteran D.C. prosecutor Mary Patrice Brown. Brown took months to carefully review and revise the lengthy report.

    Ultimately, however, it seems the decision to stop short of disciplinary recommendations for Yoo and Bybee fell to David Margolis, who has spent more than three decades at the center of some of the most sensitive issues at the Justice Department.

    As Newsweek points out, handling the case is really a no-winner for Holder. Had he pushed for disciplinary actions against Bybee, Yoo and a third former Bush administration lawyer, Steven Bradbury, it clearly would have been seen as a political move. But this news is almost sure to anger many on the left.

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