Before writing her column of May 17, Kathleen Parker must have had an extra helping of Talking Points Crunchies (Breakfast of Conservatives). The current narrative from the right asserts that any kind of disciplinary action against Jay Bybee or John Yoo would amount to “punishing lawyers for producing opinions with which we disagree.” For good measure, she throws in, “America’s enemies could hope for no more.” Aside from the very valid argument that the actions themselves the “torture memos” sought to excuse did aid our enemies, the issue is not one of simple differences of legal philosophy, but of possible criminal conspiracy.
How long does one think an attorney would hang on to his license – at the very least – if they advised a client that bank robbery would be legally permissible if they called it “enforced emergency transfer of funds” rather than grand larceny, and that half the money was used to feed the client’s family and the other half given to charity? If Yoo and Bybee contrived rationalizations for actions they knew very well were illegal, we’re talking about something more serious than bad lawyering.
Steven A. Wells