Former US Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee have been cleared of allegations of wrongdoing in relation to their memos asserting the legality of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” Newsweek reported Jan. 29. The results of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) investigation of the two former OLC attorneys have yet to be officially released, but the probe is reported to have concluded that the pair exercised poor judgment in crafting the 2002 memos—a finding that does not qualify as professional misconduct.
Originally, the OPR investigation had concluded that Yoo and Bybee had violated their professional obligations in crafting the memos, but this finding was softened by the reviewer. The implications of the original findings would have been far reaching, and could have led to significant sanctions against the former officials. Yoo, now a professor at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, could have faced disbarment. Bybee, now a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, could have faced impeachment proceedings.
A report prepared in the final months of the Bush administration came to similar conclusions, but was returned to the OPR for further investigation by then Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The five-year statute of limitations on Yoo’s alleged misconduct lapsed shortly after. (Jurist, Jan. 31)
See our last post on the torture scandal