By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer Devlin Barrett, Associated Press Writer – 4 mins ago
WASHINGTON – Bush administration lawyers who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects should not face criminal charges, Justice
Department investigators say in a draft report that recommends two of the three attorneys face possible professional sanctions.
The recommendations come after an Obama administration decision last month not to prosecute CIA interrogators who followed advice outlined in the
That decision angered conservatives who accused President Barack Obama of selling out the CIA, and from liberals who thought he was being too
forgiving of practices they — and Obama — call torture. The president's rhetoric, if not actual policy, shifted on the matter as the political
Officials conducting the internal Justice Department inquiry into the lawyers who wrote those memos have recommended referring two of the three
lawyers — John Yoo and Jay Bybee — to state bar associations for possible disciplinary action, according to a person familiar with the inquiry.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not authorized to discuss the inquiry.
The person noted that the investigative report was still in draft form and subject to revisions. Attorney General Eric Holder also may make his own
determination about what steps to take once the report has been finalized.
The inquiry has become a politically loaded guessing game, with some advocating criminal charges against the lawyers and others urging that the matter
In a letter to two senators, the Justice Department said a key deadline in the inquiry expired Monday, signaling that most of the work on the matter
was completed. The letter does not mention the possibility of criminal charges, nor does it name the lawyers under scrutiny.
The letter did not indicate what the findings of the final report would be. Bybee, Yoo and Steven Bradbury worked in the Justice Department's Office
of Legal Counsel and played key roles in crafting the legal justification for techniques critics call torture.
The memos were written as the Bush administration grappled with the fear and uncertainty following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Over the years
that followed, lawyers re-examined and rewrote much of the legal advice.
Last month, the Obama administration released four of the long-secret memos about treatment of terror suspects in which lawyers authorized methods
including waterboarding, throwing subjects against a wall and forced nudity.
In releasing the documents, President Barack Obama declared CIA interrogators who followed the memos would not be prosecuted. Obama left it to Holder
to decide whether those who authorized or approved the methods should face charges.
When that inquiry neared completion last year, investigators recommended seeking professional sanctions against Bybee and Yoo, but not Bradbury,
according to the person familiar with the matter. Those would come in the form of recommendations to state bar associations, where the most severe
possible punishment is disbarment.
Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, called the decision not to seek criminal charges "inconceivable, given
all that we know about the twisted logic of these memos."
Warren argued the only reason for such a decision "is to provide political cover for people inside the Obama White House so they don't have to
pursue what needs to be done."
Bybee is now a judge on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Yoo is a professor at the University of California-Berkeley. Bradbury returned to
private practice when he left the government at the end of President George W. Bush's term in the White House.
Asked for comment, Yoo's lawyer, Miguel Estrada, said he signed an agreement with the Justice Department not to discuss the draft report. Lawyer
Maureen Mahoney, who is representing Bybee, also declined to comment.
"The former employees have until May 4, 2009 to provide their comments on the draft report," states the letter from Assistant Attorney General
Ronald Weich to Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Whitehouse has scheduled a hearing on the issue next week.
Now that the deadline has passed, there is little more for officials to do but make revisions to it based on the responses they've received, and
decide how much, if any, of the findings should be made public.
How about that? The Justice Department decided to drop the whole thing.Too many skeletons in the closet I suppose.
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