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Bush Officials Lobbying to Soften DOJ Ethics Report on Torture Memos

Former Bush administration officials are urging the Justice Department to soften the criticisms contained in an ethics report examining the work of the lawyers who justified torture and other harsh interrogation techniques, reports The Washington Post.

According to two anonymous sources, lawyers for the subjects of the investigation — which include former Office of Legal Counsel officials John Yoo, Steven Bradbury and Jay Bybee, all principal authors of at least some of the so-called “torture memos” — have encouraged senior Bush administration appointees to write and call senior officials in the Department of Justice.

The draft report is expected to harshly criticize the lawyers’ conduct and to recommend disciplinary action by state bar associations against at least two former OLC lawyers who prepared and signed the controversial memos.

As we’ve described earlier in detail, the memos, drafted between 2002 and 2005, provided legal justifications for waterboarding, slamming prisoners against a wall, prolonged sleep and food deprivation, and other techniques that would seem to violate the U.S. and international laws banning torture and “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

Because the Convention Against Torture requires the U.S. government to prosecute any perpetrators of torture, it’s not surprising that lawyers for the subjects of the Justice Department’s ethics investigation would want to soften the language of the forthcoming report, particularly as pressure mounts to prosecute the lawyers who justified the abusive conduct.

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