The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) excoriated the legal work done by John Yoo and Jay Bybee of the Office of Legal Counsel on the torture memos, but DOJ’s ultimate decision stopped short of referring Yoo and Bybee for professional discipline. Serious questions remain, particularly since the OPR was unable to obtain the testimony of many high-level officials who played critical roles in authorizing torture. A full-scale investigation, preferably by an independent commission not part of the very department implicated in the wrongdoing, is still necessary. Great Britain conducted such an independent inquiry into the abusive practices used against IRA prisoners in the 1970s, and the United States must do the same. The essential lesson must be that torture and cruel treatment are not policy options, even when lawyers are willing to write opinions blessing illegality.
Reviewing Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism by Stewart A. Baker
“Stewart Baker has written an enthralling, yet alarming, account of the difficult road we as country have traveled since 9/11.1 Part memoir of a veteran senior government official, part lesson in interdepartmental infighting and bureaucratic power games, part philosophical musing on technology’s benefits and potential costs, and part vigorous advocacy enlivened by saucy humor and snappy prose, Baker’s book summons us to think hard about how new technologies – air travel, computer functionality, biotechnology – jeopardize our lives and our way of life even as they also promise to brighten our futures.”