The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility will recommend state bar associations take disciplinary measures against at least five former Bush officials: John Yoo, Jay Bybee, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and Monica Goodling, according to a Senate staff member who saw a summary of the report’s most-recent version this week.
If the DoJ’s recommendations are acted upon, the professional ethics and responsibility committees of state bars could do anything ranging from a wrist slap to a bitch slap: Sanctions, suspension or permanent disbarment.
Reportedly, Yoo, Bybee, Ashcroft, and Gonzales are cited for their part in writing or approving the so-called “torture memos’” under which the Bush White House justified using waterboarding, putting detainees in stress positions for prolonged periods of time, sleep depravation, subjecting prisoners to temperature extremes and other inhumane methods that violate US law and international treaties which were signed by the nation.
Goodling is criticized harshly for her role in politicizing the Justice Dept. by gauging job seekers on whether they were “loyal Bushies,” even for career positions which, by law, are non-political.
Yoo is currently a guest lecturer at Chapman University in Orange County, California, and is on leave from a teaching position at the UC-Berkeley law school which he once described as filled with “weird people who dress funny.”
Since May 2005, Ashcroft has run a Washington lobbying firm.
Gonzales is unemployed but rumoured to be in line for a job at the Bush presidential library at Southern Methodist University.
It cannot be determined what Goodling has been doing since being forced to leave her position at Justice, other than getting married.
The most problematic issue surrounds Bybee. As a Federal Appeals Court judge, he can be removed only if impeached by the House and tried by the Senate. Although a number of federal judges have been impeached over the years, typically it has been for graft or corruption; none was involved in bar association disciplinary proceedings prior to a guilty verdict in the Senate – especially for something as serious as approving torture.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are said to be pushing for an early release of the report, the result of a lengthy investigation.