Legal ethics a la Holder

The Justice Department and its Office of Professional Responsibility are the subject if not the perpetrator of leaks regarding its report that is said to recommend the referral of former Bush administration lawyers to their state bar disciplinary committees over purported ethical lapses in the legal opinions of those lawyers who approved interrogation techniques that critics including President Obama himself have labeled “torture.” Andrew McCarthy notes that the draft report has been publicized by the Washington Post and New York Times, apparently based on leaks from the Justice Department.

Some think that the concept of “legal ethics” is a contradiction in terms, but the Justice Department is turning itself into a case study in professional irresonsibility. Who will guard against the guards themselves? Apparently the task is left to McCarthy. In his NRO column (also discussed by John here), McCarthy elaborates on the hypocrisy of the report given the legal positions taken by the Justice Department in pending litigation.

Hypocrisy, however, is the least of it. When the Obama administration catches its breath and lines up all its actions with its professed policies we will be in for serious trouble. It is the consistent implementation of the administration’s professed policies that we have most to fear. For example, consider the administration’s pending release in the United States of the terrorist Uighur detainees now held at Guantanamo. One can only hope the administration betrays its underlying principles, the sooner the better. In the meantime, Tom Joscelyn explores the administration’s stonewalling on the subject.

Underlying the events McCarthy discusses is a vindictive willfulness that is itself inconsistent with the rule of law. One can only hope that others will pick up on McCarthy’s cry from the heart and pay attention to the budding miscarriage.


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