Sunday, January 31, 2010

DOJ Lawyers Off The Hook For "Torture" Memos

If this report from Newsweek proves accurate, the already delusional pundits at MSNBC will become even more unhinged:
[A]n upcoming Justice Department report from its ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), clears the Bush administration lawyers who authored the “torture” memos of professional-misconduct allegations.
While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.

Illegal Foreign Political Contributions? Look In the Mirror

Justice Samuel Alito may have been channeling in a more genteel way his inner Joe Wilson, but President Obama seems to have set up a straw-man argument in railing against the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United campaign finance case.

Professor William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection says that if the Obama has real concerns about illegal foreign contributions to political campaigns, he should appoint a special prosecutor--to investigate his own 2008 presidential run:
And the place the special counsel can start is with Obama's 2008 campaign, which disabled security features in its credit card web portal so as to allow donors to evade restrictions on numerous aspects of the federal campaign laws, including the prohibition on foreign contributions
Given that Obama was wrong that the decision allows foreign campaign contributions, Jacobson suggests that this grandstanding is an attempt to grease the skids for the nomination of an ultra-leftist judicial activist to the Court in the event that Justice Stevens retires at the end of this term.

By the way, campaign commercials get very tedious, but why shouldn't U.S. corporations be placed on the same level playing field as unions when it comes to political speech under the First Amendment?