People For the American Way

OPR Report Slams Bush Office of Legal Counsel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21, 2010

Contact: Drew Courtney or Josh Glasstetter at People For the American Way

Email: media@pfaw.org

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Other: Array

In a report released yesterday, the Justice
Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that the
pro-torture legal opinions produced by President Bush’s Office of Legal
Counsel were the result of faulty reasoning. Although the DOJ’s own
ethics lawyers concluded that the legal memos in support of
waterboarding and other torture techniques were the result of
“professional misconduct,” the final recommendation to the Attorney
General downgraded the criticism, attributing the opinions to “flawed
legal reasoning.”

People for the American Way President Michael B. Keegan issued the following statement:

“The OPR Report is a damning evaluation of Jay Bybee,
John Yoo and the pro-torture opinions that they drafted. For years,
we’ve seen the Bush Administration and its supporters point to these
documents to defend the brutal, illegal actions that were authorized in
interrogating prisoners. Now it’s been made clear once and for all
that the legal reasoning behind those techniques was deeply flawed.

“According to the ethics lawyers in the Department of
Justice, Jay Bybee and John Yoo ignored precedent and offered faulty
legal advice. Their actions constitute a black mark on the reputation
of the Office of Legal Counsel and on our country’s standing as a
nation of laws.

“It’s ironic indeed that Dawn Johnsen, President
Obama’s choice to head the OLC, is being pilloried by Republicans for
reaching the same conclusion about the memos as the DOJ’s own ethics
lawyers. After the memos became public, she assembled a team of widely
respected experts to help create a statement of principles to guide the
OLC going forward. Her actions should be commended, not criticized.

“Unlike Yoo and Bybee, Dawn Johnsen has shown
integrity and adherence to the rule of law. She has bipartisan
support from her home state senators and has won endorsements from
officials from every administration since President Reagan. Dawn
Johnsen has demonstrated that she understands that national security
challenges can be met without subverting the rule of law. She should
be confirmed without further delay.

“I applaud Senator Leahy and Congressman Conyers for convening House and Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on this matter.”

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