Bar complaints filed against Yoo, Bybee, Addington, Ashcroft, Gonzales, Mukasey, 6 others


Justin Blum at Bloomberg (h/t Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker) reports that state bar complaints have been filed against twelve Bush administration lawyers involved in the authorization and sanctioning of torture by the United States of America, including two attorneys, Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, whose disbarments I have long been advocating. [A complete list of the grieved attorneys – with links to the complaints – is included at the end of this post]. See also these reports by UPI, CNN and Scott Shane at NYT. Upon signing and filing the complaints on behalf of VotersForPeace (donate here ) and a coalition of organizations led by Velvet Revolution, attorney Kevin Zeese, Executive Director of VotersForPeace, stated in part:

Today, we filed complaints with the District of Columbia Bar and with four other states seeking the disbarment of 12 Bush-Cheney torture lawyers. These lawyers misused their license to practice law to provide legal cover for the war crime of torture. This misuse of their license requires the bar association to disbar them or the bar will become complicit in torture.

Complaints have been filed against: John Yoo, Judge Jay Bybee, and Stephen Bradbury who authored the torture memoranda. As well as attorneys who advised, counseled, consulted and supported those memoranda including Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington. These detailed complaints, with over 500 pages of supporting exhibits, have been filed with the state bars in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania, and they seek disciplinary action and disbarment. …

This cadre of torture lawyers colluded to facilitate the abuse and torture of prisoners (detainee) that included, evidence suggests, deaths at overseas U.S. military facilities. Human Rights Watch reports 98 deaths of people in custody of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Making torture even worse in this case is that it was used to try and get information to tie Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda – a relationship that did not exist – as well as information about non-existent weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

We have asked the respective state bars to revoke the licenses of these attorneys for moral turpitude. They failed to show “respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others,” and intentionally or recklessly failed to act competently, all in violation of legal Rules of Professional Conduct. Several attorneys failed to adequately supervise the work of subordinate attorneys and forwarded shoddy legal memoranda regarding the definition of torture to the White House and Department of Defense. These lawyers further acted incompetently by advising superiors to approve interrogation techniques that were in violation of U.S. and international law. They failed to support or uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the laws of the United States, and to maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers, all in violation state bar rules.

Torture is illegal under United States and international law. It is illegal under the U.S. Constitution, domestic law and international treaties to which the United States is a party.

* * *

The torture memoranda did not provide objective legal advice to government decision-makers, but instead twisted the state of the law so that it was unrecognizable. They were so inaccurate that these memoranda are more justifications about what the authors and the intended recipients wanted the law to be, rather than assessments of what the law actually is.

* * *

We decided to take action today because the federal government seems unable and unwilling to act. The Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility has taken nearly five years to complete its report, as some of the memoranda at issue became public in June 2004. Further, this OPR investigation is focused only on two lawyers, John Yoo and Jay Bybee rather than all those involved. This inexcusable delay is unfair to the public because the consequences of any wrongdoing are diminished. The delay has already benefited the two men under investigation, John Yoo now has tenure at Berkeley law school and Jay Bybee now has a lifetime appointment as a federal court of appeals judge. If OPR had completed its duties in a timely manner it is unlikely that either appointment would have been made.

In addition to inaction by OPR, the Congress where select Members were briefed 40 times by the CIA, seems unable to take action because of fear of its own complicity being exposed. And, Attorney General Eric Holder, has now testified that he approved renditions – which results in prisoners being tortured by other countries at the behest of the United States – during the Clinton administration. And, sadly, the President of the United States has now decided to hide evidence of war crimes by refusing to release photographic and video evidence despite a court order to do so. Finally, the administration is appointing General McChrystal to be the head of operations in Afghanistan despite being responsible for commanding Fort Nama in Iraq as well as special forces involved in torture[.]

* * *

Therefore, the people must act to face up to this issue and restore morality and Rule of Law to the United States. In addition to filing these complaints we are starting a campaign for disbarment, public torture hearings and for the appointment of an Independent Prosecutor. People who want to get involved are urged to go to DisbarTortureLawyers.com and VotersForPeace.us.

Only by taking torture out of politics and allowing an independent prosecutor to pursue the facts and apply the law will the United States recover from these war crimes. Application of the rule of law, beginning with disbarment, is a necessary part of the process of healing the nation.

The Velvet Revolution statement regarding the filing of the complaints adds, in part, that:

The individually tailored complaints allege that the named attorneys violated the rules of professional responsibility by advocating torture. The memos written and supported by these attorneys advocating torture have now been repudiated by the Department of Justice, the White House, the Department of Defense and other experts in the field. The recently released Senate and Red Cross reports on detainee treatment provide uncontroverted evidence that the torture techniques advocated by the attorneys were used on human beings over an extended period of time. We have also sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, asking that he initiate impeachment proceeding against Jay Bybee, who is now a sitting federal judge. The evidence is clear that, during his confirmation hearings, Mr. Bybee misused the classified status of his torture memos to portray a false picture of his legal history. Several Senators have stated publicly that Mr. Bybee would not have been confirmed if they had been aware of his torture memos. The bar complaints have been signed by our board attorney, Kevin Zeese, who also directs the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics, and Voters for Peace.

We ask other organizations to sign on to this campaign by sending an email to DisbarTortureLawyers@velvetrevolution.us. Individuals can sign on using the form below. This campaign will include a broad public relations push so we urge everyone to spread the word and for the press to contact us for comment and interviews.

You can make targeted donations to this campaign at with an earmark comment in the box at http://www.velvetrevolution.us/donate.php.

The complaints were filed against the following attorneys:

Links to the complaints can also be found at Velvet Revolution here, where you will find a Sign On Form to add your name to the campaign as well as links to the exhibits attached to the complaints, the released torture memos and other information.

Updated 05-19-09 to correctly identify William James Haynes II (instead of Michael Haynes) as one of the dirty dozen torture lawyers.  (h/t earlofhuntingdon)

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11 Responses

  1. Well it is about time!

    Now I dance a little bit

    *dancing*

    Just proves again – it is never too late to do the right thing.

    Thanks EM!

    • As you know, Capt, I have been advocating ethics investigations of these attorneys for well over 3 years now. And though my ego is bit disappointed that it wasn’t my fine writing here at TGP that inspired these complaints, I am extremely pleased they were finally filed.

  2. hey e.m.!
    when i read about this last night, i wondered how long it would take before you would post about it. what do you think the odds are that they will actually be disbarred? the one i think is the most unlikely to be disbarred is alberto gonzales. i would imagine the the texas bar is just as conservative as the state, and he is probably still being protected by the bush family. they don’t want him flapping his lips. i don’t suppose it makes much of a difference in his case since he can’t seem to land a job anyway. still, it the disgrace of his losing his license would be a good thing to see.

    • Hey Nonnie,

      I finally read the Yoo and Gonzales complaints they filed. I think they state a compelling case for sanctions. I especially like the moral turpitude arguments they make.

      However, the litigator in me thinks that the complaints are incomplete because they don’t include all known incidences of unethical conduct by these attorneys and would be strengthened by including these additional instances of misconduct.

      For example, my complaint against Gonzales contains the instance in which he went to John Ashcroft’s hotel room to get Ashcroft’s signature as Attorney General to continue the authorization of the NSA wiretapping. During this visit, Ashcroft had both officially (temporarily) relinquished his duties as AG and was heavily medicated in a post-operative ICU hospital room. This alone is sufficient basis for Mr. Gonzales’ disbarment. Can you imagine any circumstances in which it would be ethical to ask a heavily-medicated person – who is in a hospital ICU for post-operative recovery – to sign a will, let alone a blanket NSA wiretapping authorization under the above circumstances? This almost led to a mass resignation at DOJ and was too much for even Ashcroft to stomach.

      My posts on Yoo and Gonzales are laden with additional examples of unethical conduct by these attorneys that would further support their disbarment. I’ve suggested to Kevin Zeese, the attorney who filed the complaints, that he add my allegations to his complaint in order to strengthen the case for disbarment.

      And if ‘they’ were protecting him, he’d have a cushy job already. The claims have merit. We’ll have to see what type of follow-through there is.

      And don’t forget this.

  3. […] sure to visit The Grievance Project for lots more info and oodles of links. Tell E.M. I sent you, and you’ll get a good […]

    • Thanks for the link, Nonnie.

      Anyone who hasn’t yet should check out Nonnie’s site, Hysterical Raisin. The link is in my blogroll above. I don’t know how she does it, but day after day she continues to create great parody movie posters about the latest political goings-on.

  4. […] Bar complaints filed against Yoo, Bybee, Addington, Ashcroft, Gonzales, Mukasey, 6 others […]

  5. […] Yoo interrupts his defense of torture and (presumably) himself, to weigh in on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, concluding with this: But conservatives […]

  6. Keep up the good work.
    May be interested in putting up link on my blog “theeliteones.wordpress.com”

    Phil Stimac, CEO
    The Elite Lawyers and Judges Whistleblower Network of America

    p.s. I have a suggestion for your blog – call me if interested
    775 742 4961

    • Thanks for the visit, Phil.

      All links appreciated.

      No phone, so email me regarding blog suggestions at: grievanceproject AT gmail DOT com

  7. […] goes on under and in front of our noses: Academic philosophy is doing the work–similar to Yoo, Bybee and Addington in torture, detention and surveillance, continued by banal men in Obamaland–of making […]

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