“Barack Obama may not realize it, but I may have just helped save his presidency. How? By winning a drawn-out fight to protect his powers as commander in chief to wage war and keep Americans safe,” begins John Yoo’s op-ed in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.
The law professor and former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer who blessed the CIA interrogation program spares nothing in attack on the Obama administration, generally, and the Justice Department’s ethics unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility, specifically.
OPR determined that Yoo and his former boss, Jay Bybee, now a federal judge, committed professional misconduct. That determination was downgraded by the department’s top career lawyer, David Margolis, to a finding that Yoo and Bybee exercised “poor judgment” in their work.
Part of Mr. Obama’s plan included hounding those who developed, approved or carried out Bush policies, despite the enormous pressures of time and circumstance in the months immediately after the September 11 attacks. Although career prosecutors had previously reviewed the evidence and determined that no charges are warranted, last year Attorney General Eric Holder appointed a new prosecutor to re-investigate the CIA’s detention and interrogation of al Qaeda leaders.
In my case, he let loose the ethics investigators of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) to smear my reputation and that of Jay Bybee, who now sits as a federal judge on the court of appeals in San Francisco. Our crime? While serving in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel in the weeks and months after 9/11, we answered in the form of memoranda extremely difficult questions from the leaders of the CIA, the National Security Council and the White House on when interrogation methods crossed the line into prohibited acts of torture.
Yoo criticizes OPR’s years-long investigation of him as infused with “rank bias and sheer incompetence” — taking Margolis’ conclusions to their extreme — and dollops blame on Attorney General Eric Holder for failing to stop “this sorry mess earlier,” as his predecessor, Michael Mukasey, tried to do.
And why did Yoo and his top-notch lawyer, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Miguel Estrada, fight so strenuously to reverse OPR’s “mistakes, misdeeds and acts of malfeasance”?
For Obama, of course:
Mr. Obama is fighting three wars simultaneously in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against al Qaeda. He will call upon the men and women serving under his command to make choices as hard as the ones we faced. They cannot meet those challenges with clear minds if they believe that a bevy of prosecutors, congressional committees and media critics await them when they return from the battlefield.
Click here to continue reading Yoo’s piece.