A former head of the Office of Legal Counsel said on Tuesday he does not oppose a criminal investigation of the office, though he defended the motives of two lawyers who were at the center of the Bush administration’s controversial interrogation program, reports The BLT.
“I personally am not opposed to criminal investigations of myself and others from our time there,” Daniel Levin, who served as acting head of OLC from July 2004 to February 2005, said at a forum at American University’s Washington College of Law.
Levin, now a partner at White & Case, said that such an investigation amounted to a “blunt instrument” but that it could be worthwhile, according to The BLT.
Levin also said he could support the formation of a “truth commission” proposed by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and others, but he had doubts about whether it could be effective.
At the same time, he said believed that former OLC officials Jay Bybee and John Yoo, who have drawn criticism for authoring the so-called “torture memos,” acted in good faith. “I genuinely believe, for what it’s worth, that they genuinely believed the advice they were giving was correct,” Levin said.
Bybee and Yoo are the subjects of a long-awaited Office of Professional Report examining whether the lawyers violated professional standards in their work at OLC. Attorney General Eric Holder said recently the report was near completion.
In August, Holder tapped a career prosecutor, John Durham, to conduct a preliminary inquiry into possible criminal conduct by CIA interrogators. He has not ordered a probe of the OLC lawyers.
While at OLC, Levin was not among the advocates for the use of waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques on suspected terrorists. After subjecting himself to water boarding at a military base near Washington, Levin concluded that technique constituted torture unless performed with tight restrictions.
Levin reportedly was pushed out the Justice Department before he could complete a memo imposing more controls on the use of waterboarding and other methods.