Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Nation on torture, lawyers and professional responsibility

Twice in the last couple of weeks the main editorial in The Nation magazine has been about issues related to professional responsibility.

The March 1 issue's editorial laments the failure of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility to recommend discipline for Jay Bybee and John Yoo, the principal authors of the initial "torture memo," concluding that "the report has been watered down to find only the exercise of "poor judgment" and does not recommend referral for discipline. Torture has been called many things before--chief among them a "crime against humanity"--but "poor judgment"? I bet they will also find that "mistakes were made." " The full editorial is available here.

The March 29 issue's editorial is a comment on Liz Cheney's attack on the values of the lawyers for Gantánamo detainees. It argues that the Dept of Justice should have celebrated the lawyers, "explaining (since it apparently needs repeating) that the American adversarial system depends on just such courageous conduct from lawyers willing to defend the least popular among us." And it calls Cheney's attack "scurrilous" and "so baseless [it] can be understood only as partisan demagoguery, designed to take the focus off the real culprits . . . who authorized [torture]." This full editorial is available here.

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