From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — A coalition of left-wing advocacy groups filed legal ethics complaints on Monday against 12 former Bush administration lawyers, including three United States attorneys general, whom the groups accuse of helping to justify torture.
The coalition, called Velvet Revolution, asked the bar associations in four states and the District of Columbia to disbar the lawyers, saying their actions violated the rules of professional responsibility by approving interrogation methods, including waterboarding, that constituted illegal torture.
By writing or approving legal opinions justifying such methods, the advocates say, the Bush administration lawyers violated the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture and American law.
Kevin Zeese, a longtime activist and lawyer who signed the complaints on behalf of Velvet Revolution, said the groups were acting because the Obama administration had resisted calls for a criminal investigation of abuse of prisoners under the Bush administration.
The Obama administration has not ruled out the possibility of professional disciplinary action being taken against some of those involved.
The filings come as the Justice Department’s ethics office, the Office of Professional Responsibility, completes a report on the department lawyers who wrote opinions authorizing harsh interrogations.
The report, in the works for nearly five years and expected to be released in the next few weeks, is said to be highly critical of some authors of the opinions, including John C. Yoo, a senior official at the department’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2002, and his boss, Jay S. Bybee.
The Velvet Revolution complaint also names Steven G. Bradbury, who headed the legal counsel office from 2005 to 2009; the three attorneys general, John Ashcroft, Alberto R. Gonzales and Michael B. Mukasey; Michael Chertoff and Alice S. Fisher, who headed the Justice Department’s criminal division; two former Pentagon officials, Douglas J. Feith and William J. Haynes II; and two former White House lawyers, Timothy E. Flanigan and David S. Addington.
A complaint filed last year against Mr. Yoo, a Berkeley law professor who remains a member of the Pennsylvania bar, was rejected by that state’s bar association, in part because the Justice Department was already investigating Mr. Yoo’s role in the interrogation memorandums.
May 18 (Bloomberg) — […] The activist groups, led by VotersForPeace in Baltimore, which seeks to mobilize opponents of war, drafted different complaints for each of the lawyers. The complaints say the lawyers violated professional responsibility rules by advocating torture, which is illegal.
“We felt that citizens have to start taking action,” said Kevin Zeese, executive director of the peace group, in a telephone interview.
Memos written by former Justice Department lawyers after the Sept. 11 attacks argue that various interrogation tactics don’t amount to torture and could be used legally.
Bybee, 55, is now a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Yoo teaches law at the University of California at Berkeley. After leaving office, Ashcroft, 67, founded a consulting group and law firm.
The Bush administration legal advice no longer represents the view of the Justice Department, officials said. The memos offered legal arguments for why the techniques didn’t violate U.S. prohibitions on torture, and described steps the Central Intelligence Agency said it would take to prevent detainees from being injured.
Attorney General Eric Holder has said that waterboarding is torture.
Make sure to visit The Grievance Project for lots more info and oodles of links. Tell E.M. I sent you, and you’ll get a good seat. 🙂