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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Holder Under Fire

Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, March 23. The hearing is billed as “oversight of the Department of Justice,” and AG Holder will likely face questions about his decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City and the decision to federally prosecute “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. As David Cole writes in The Washington Post, certain figures on the Right continue to distort facts to paint the administration as weak on national security.

Less likely to be mentioned is the whitewashing by DOJ attorney David Margolis of the Office of Professional Responsibility report detailing the internal process that allowed government lawyers to attempt to authorize torture via a series of “torture memos.” Margolis, a career attorney and 17 year veteran of his current post, downgraded the report’s original finding of “professional misconduct” to one of “poor judgment” by the lawyers. The change in finding results in a short-term pass on accountability, because the government will not refer the lawyers to state bars for disciplinary consideration. To-date, the attorneys whose legal hack job made the United States a torture nation have avoided serious investigative scrutiny and returned to successful careers: most notably, John Yoo as tenured faculty at UC Berkeley, and Jay Bybee as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Attorney General Holder has an obligation to defend the Constitution and prosecute illegal behavior. Sign our petition calling on him to conduct a full investigation of the torture memo authors.

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