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. 🙂
28 responses to “Creepier by the Dozen”
Shitbags by the dozen, that’s hilarious.
Didn’t you hear Deadeye the other day giving a speech in his best Darth Vader voice with heavy breathing? He said it’s wrong to pursue political opponents from previous administrations for revenge and it sets a dangerous precedent. See, going after a president for lying about a BJ is completely OK but you can’t pursue people for crapping all over the constitution.
it’s wrong to pursue opponents from previous administrations, but it’s okay for him to tell people that the present administration has put targets on all of our backs.
Thanks for the link to my post regarding these complaints, Nonnie.
I can’t express enough how important it is that these complaints were filed but there is no guarantee that they will even be properly investigated let alone result in any sanctions against these attorneys. As reported in the NYT article you cite above, one complaint against John Yoo has already been dismissed by the Pennsylvania State Bar because the recently-completed DoJ OPR investigation was then still ongoing.
I finally read the Yoo and Gonzales complaints that were filed which, I believe, state a compelling case for sanctions, especially like moral turpitude arguments. However, my inner-litigator thinks the complaints are incomplete because they focus only on the attorneys’ conduct related to the authorization of torture and fail to include any other allegations of unethical conduct by these attorneys. The chances that the complaints result in disbarment would be substantially strengthened by including these additional instances of misconduct.
For example, the draft complaint against Gonzales that I wrote describes when he went to John Ashcroft’s hotel room to get Ashcroft’s signature as Attorney General to continue the authorization of the NSA wiretapping. Prior to his visit, Ashcroft had already officially (temporarily) relinquished his duties as AG. He was, at the time, also heavily medicated and in a post-operative, ICU hospital room. This conduct alone establishes a sufficient basis for Mr. Gonzales’ disbarment. Can you imagine any circumstances in which it would be ethical to ask a heavily-medicated person – who is in a hospital ICU for post-operative recovery – to sign a legal document such as a simple will, let alone sign a blanket wiretapping authorization? This was too much for even Ashcroft to stomach (he refused to sign the authorization) and almost led to a mass resignation at DoJ.
There are more examples of unethical conduct in my posts on Yoo and Gonzales that are not included in the filed complaints. I’ve suggested in email correspondence I’ve had with Kevin Zeese, the attorney who filed the complaints, that he add my allegations to his complaint in order to strengthen the case for disbarment. Hopefully he will.
Like the complaintsfiled by CREW against Michael J. Elston and Esther Slater McDonald and the complaint filed by Attorney William R. Rider against Monica Marie Goodling , the efficacy of the complaints filed by Mr. Zeese against Mr. Yoo and Mr. Gonzales is significantly reduced as long as the compaint remains narrowly focused.
i would have been guilty of dereliction of blogger duty not to include a link over to the grievance project. nobody covers this stuff as thoroughly as you do.
is there a statute of limitations on disbarment? if an attorney did something not so good 10 years ago, could that still be grounds for disbarment now?
of course, i think we would all rather see all of the dirty dozen behind bars instead of just disbarred, but i would settle at the moment for anything that would have them publicly disgraced.
To my knowledge, there are time limitations in
Alabama for filing grievances and I’m sure there are in other states as well.
I agree, but mass disbarments might well be the prelude to mass indictments.
i suspect that they will all try to run out the clock.
That strategy’s been working so far…
when stalling is the only tactic you have left, the case against you must be pretty damned good.
All the usual suspects…
i think they would all look very good in orange or stripes.
Now there’s a fashion trend I can embrace for this group. Gitmo can be their “runway”.
oooh! project runway for the criminals. that might make a good poster! 😉
Round up all the dirty rats and make ’em suffer!
but within the guidelines they set up for everyone else. i think a taste of their own medicine will have instantaneous results!
Aren’t these the same Dirty Baker’s Dozen that Emptywheel on Daily Kos and Firedoglake profiled?
i didn’t see emptywheel’s diary. i just searched for it, and i couldn’t find it. i would imagine that the cast is the same.
by the way, if i’m absent tonight, it’s because my internets connection is iffy. there’s thunder and lightning, and that screws up everything.
You showed, so I’m extra happy.
i wouldn’t miss science saturday, neon vincent! i was constantly getting disconnected, but i persevered! 😀
“professional action”, my but, criminal action. damn it.
where have you been?
finishing school. ha! I’m glad to see that the thunder et al hasn’t messed up the tubz for you. It’s been a long time since I “talked”, at the same time as you.
my puter is so damned slow. fomlpoma thinks the router got fried. i did connect to the internets finally, but i think i’m using a neighbors wireless connection.
so, did you finish finishing school? 😉
three more days.
ohhhh! you meant that you were almost finished with school. i thought you were at miss manners’ finishing school learning to drink tea with your pinky up! with the recent growing popularity of tea parties, that’s an invaluable skill. 😉
Were you impressed? I didn’t ever go to finishing school. It gives me a cramp in the wrist to drink with my fuckin pinkie up.
i was very impressed and looking forward to asking you etiquette questions. i never remember which spoon to use for my jello.
you always make my day
i’m still waiting for the end of that sentence, dcAp! 😉