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‘Do We Know If Boo-Boo Is Allergic to Certain Insects?’

The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility released its report on professional misconduct over torture authorized by ex-Justice officials John Yoo, Steve Bradbury and Jay Bybee today, and the results aren’t so good for them. While they avoided a formal recommendation for disbarment, Justice Department ethics officials found that Yoo “committed intentional professional misconduct” and Bybee “committed professional misconduct” in such authorization. (OPR rejected that conclusion, but still harshly criticized the legal judgment displayed by Bradbury, Bybee and Yoo.) And here’s just one example of how.

Recall that it came out last year that in a classified August 2002 memoranda, Yoo and Bybee approved such tortures to captured al-Qaeda detainee Abu Zubaydah as placing insects inside a “confinement box” along with the detainee, who was to be led to believe the insects were poisonous. They concluded such a move wouldn’t be torture. Here’s a snippet of how they reached such a conclusion. They use the bizarre nickname “Boo-Boo” for Abu Zubaydah:

On June 30 [2002], Yoo asked [NAME REDACTED] by email, “[D]o we know if Boo-boo is allergic to certain insects?” [NAME REDACTED] replied, “No idea, but I’ll check with [NAME REDACTED]” Although there is no record of a reply by [NAME REDACTED] the final version of the classified Bybee memo included the following, “Further, you have informed us that you are not aware that Zubaydah has any allergies to insects.”

These were grown men sworn to uphold the law.

Both Yoo, now a Berkeley law professor, and Bybee, a federal judge, object to several findings listed in the report.

Update, 7:48 a.m., Feb. 20: My apologies for a hasty initial misread. Justice Department ethics officials found that Yoo and Bybee were professionally negligent, but OPR itself — while still treating their work harshly — found their misconduct didn’t rise to that standard.

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