I consider this a most disappointing development:
...NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.
The report, which is still going through declassification, will provide many new details about how waterboarding was adopted and the role that top White House officials played in the process, say two sources who have read the report but asked for anonymity to describe a sensitive document. Two of the most controversial sections of the 2002 memo—including one contending that the president, as commander in chief, can override a federal law banning torture—were not in the original draft of the memo, say the sources. But when Michael Chertoff, then-chief of Justice’s criminal division, refused the CIA’s request for a blanket pledge not to prosecute its officers for torture, Yoo met at the White House with David Addington, Dick Cheney’s chief counsel, and then–White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. After that, Yoo inserted a section about the commander in chief’s wartime powers and another saying that agency officers accused of torturing Qaeda suspects could claim they were acting in “self-defense” to prevent future terror attacks, the sources say… [emphasis added]
Inserted from <Newsweek>
I consider this a terrible decision. The US is obligated by the terms of several treaties to investigate instances of torture and prosecute those responsible. The Obama administration has failed to meet that obligation. As angry as I feel over this, he did promise during his campaign to govern looking ahead rather than focusing on past misconduct. I knew this when I voted for him. So for me to complain too much would be rather hypocritical. Nevertheless, I had hoped that DOJ would act independently, investigate, and prosecute, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Addington, Bybee, Yoo, and the other top leaders of the Bush/GOP regime responsible for this stain on our reputation as a nation. I wish that Obama would abandon his completely unproductive fixation on bipartisanship and do the duty our treaty obligations require.
My first response was to assume that David Margolis might be a Bush/GOP regime operative, who had burrowed in at the close of the worst administration in history. I went digging for dirt on the man. I found that he has creds as a straight shooter and a reputation for non-partisan service. Therefore I have to consider that there may well be a sound legal reason for his decision. I look forward to the release of the full report and hope that some of the details about the roll top White House officials played in adopting torture will result in legal action. Otherwise, our best hope is that some foreign nation will arrest them during foreign travels and put them before the world court.
As disappointed as we are over this, we must remember that, despite his protestations to the contrary, McConJob voted for torture in the Senate. Had he been elected, we would still be practicing torture, a far worse alternative.