Torture lawyers dodge mild rebuke

Bush’s Department of Justice lawyers who made legal excuses for torture are not even going to get a slap on the wrist:

“What we’re seeing right now is the dismantling of precedent that we created at Nuremberg, when we said that you can’t facilitate war crimes as lawyers and say that it was simply bad judgment. […] If you can’t be held accountable for facilitating war crimes, something that they don’t really discuss in this report, then when can you be held accountable? I mean, this is it. I mean, this is the worst-case scenario. And so what the Justice Department has done is carved out for itself a standard that it can never fail, that even supporting torture is just bad judgment.” – Jonathan Turley

Read more excellent analysis by Jack Balkin:

Margolis argues that, judging by (among other things) a review of D.C. bar rules, the standard for attorney misconduct is set pretty damn low, and is only violated by lawyers who (here I put it colloquially) are the scum of the earth. Lawyers barely above the scum of the earth are therefore excused.

More by Adam Serwer:

It’s clear that John Yoo and his cohorts in the Office of Legal Counsel saw their job not as binding the president to the rule of law, but to declare legal any tactic that the executive branch believed necessary to fight terrorism. They worked backwards from this conclusion, and ethics officials at the Department of Justice, we now know, decided that they they had violated professional standards in doing so. […] I confess to being bothered that we haven’t seen a similarly backlash against the architects of torture here–part of the reason we haven’t, is because even though innocents were tortured, we still see them as fundamentally alien. Few Americans directly suffered as a result of what Yoo and Bybee did–although I think we have yet to understand that damage that’s been done to our society as a whole.

And finally a parting shot from Yglesias:

The crux of the matter is that serious violations of domestic and international law were committed thanks to orders given at the highest level. But it would be politically unthinkable to hold the front-line perpetrators of the torture accountable while ignoring the fact that their conduct was specifically authorized by the relevant officials. And it would also be politically unthinkable to put Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. on trial for their lawbreaking. So the idea of John Yoo as the villain began to take shape. And in the end it looks like even he’ll get away.