Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Al Capone & The Bush Torture Lawyers

When it comes to the Bush torture regime, the gulf between not holding responsible the perpetrators of this most terrible episode in American history and trying to prosecute them for war crimes is vast. And so while it does not satisfy the "hang 'em high" librul-leftie crowd, going after the law licenses of the lawyers among those perps makes sense. Kind of like nailing legendary gangster Al Capone for income-tax evasion because proving that he was a murderous thug would have been substantially more difficult.

And so news that a coalition of advocacy groups known as the Velvet Revolution has filed disciplinary complaints against 12 Bush era lawyers, including three former attorneys general, with the bar associations of four states and the District of Columbia is a welcome corrective if not necessarily one that will produce the desired outcome.

This is because bar associations and their disciplinary review committees are notoriously in the bag, and the Pennsylvania association passed the buck in rejecting a request last year to discipline John Yoo, saying that it would not do so because there already was a Justice Department probe.

In any event, the coalition charges in individually tailored complains that the attorneys violated the rules of professional responsibility by advocating torture, which is illegal under both U.S. and international law, and asks that the lawyers be disbarred.

Said Kevin Zeese, the attorney for the coalition:

"It is time to hold these lawyers accountable for violating their legal oath. Just as the bar would suspend an attorney who advised a police officer to torture and brutalize a detained immigrant or criminal defendant, the bar must suspend these attorneys for advocating and causing the torture of war detainees. The disciplinary boards that hear these complaints must act or they will be seen as complicit in the use of torture. This is an important step toward the ultimate accountability of criminal prosecution."

Named in the complaints are:

* John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzalez and Michael Mukasey, former attorneys general.

* Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security.

* Stephen Bradbury, Jay Bybee and Yoo, former Justice Department Office of Legal Council lawyers, and Alice Fisher, who headed Justice's Criminal Division.

* Timothy Flanigan, former deputy legal counsel to President Bush.

* David Addington, former legal counsel to Vice President Cheney.

* Douglas Feith and William Haynes II, former Defense Department officials.

The aforementioned Justice investigation, which is expected to be release soon, is said to be highly critical of Bybee and Yoo and suggests sanctions at the state level.

Click here for copies of the Velvet Revolution complaints and supporting exhibits.

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