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Friday, February 26, 2010

Experts Come Together to Discuss the OPR Report on the “Torture Memos”

In anticipation of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the Office of Professional Responsibility's (OPR) investigation into the "torture memos," Alliance for Justice hosted a panel of experts who could speak about the findings of the OPR report.

During her introduction, moderator Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice stated, “regardless of OPR’s conclusion about the lawyers’ ethical conduct, the report adds to the mounting evidence that warrants a full-scale investigation of those who ordered, designed, and justified torture. The new findings must be independently investigated, and I am delighted that tomorrow the Senate Judiciary Committee will be taking the next step toward uncovering the truth.”

Panelists David Cole, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Michael Frisch, Ethics Counsel & Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Scott Horton, Adjunct Faculty, Columbia Law School and Contributing Editor, Harper's Magazine, and William Yeomans Fellow in Law and Government, American University Washington College of Law discussed the findings of the OPR report, and what next steps are possible.

Bill Yeomans pointed out a gaping hole in OPR's investigation, “we know that there was extensive contact between John Yoo and the White House, including the Office of the Vice President, but we don’t yet know what was said. This gap screams out for further investigation to determine whether DOJ’s legal views on torture were shaped by pressure from the Bush White House.”

Michael Frisch, spoke about the failure of the OPR report to consider whether the authors of the torture memos had knowingly counseled their client to engage in, or assisted in, criminal conduct. “This clear standard of ethical behavior was largely ignored in the DOJ process. Notwithstanding the conclusion that the matter not be referred to bar disciplinary authorities, those authorities remain obligated to investigate these serious allegations of professional misconduct.

David Cole, author of The Torture Memos, was disturbed by the evidence of "two tracks of law in this country, one for public consumption and one secret. At every step of the way the secret law was used to subvert the public law."

Finally, Scott Horton, was adamant that OPR did not ask the right question.
“The question is not only whether an ethical violation occurred but whether a crime occurred. The OPR report does not address whether there was a conspiracy to torture under Rule 2340A.”
Watch video of the event here:

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