Today, members of the Robert Jackson Steering Committee (including Marjorie Cohn, a law Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law featured in our film, Tortured Law) filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act requesting the report from the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) on the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who authored the “torture memos.” Release of the report has been repeatedly delayed for over a year, and most recently Attorney General Holder promised in November to release it “by the end of the month.” The end of November has come and gone and the report has still not been released.
In addition to requesting the release of the OPR Report, the FOIA request submitted today asks for the following sets of documents:
1.The long-overdue ethics report of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) regarding the performance of Bush administration lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) from 2002-2007. The Attorney General last promised to release this report by the end of November, 2009, and it still has not been released.
2. The first OPR ethics report on the performance of Bush administration lawyers in the OLC, completed in December, 2008.
3. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s 10-page rebuttal of the December, 2008 report, referenced in The New York Times of May 6, 2009.
4. A copy of OPR regulations regarding settled procedure on conducting a misconduct investigation and producing a report.
5. A copy of any OPR regulations that allow the subjects of the investigation to a) read the final report, b) make changes to the report, and c) allow the Attorney General to rebut the report.
6. Copies of all written warnings from 2001 on from veteran members of the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training program to the Department of Justice, including the OLC, stating that SERE methods of interrogation on detainees were ineffective in eliciting the truth and designed more to elicit false confessions.
7. Copies of all communications from military and national security lawyers and professionals to the Department of Justice, including the Office of Legal Counsel, objecting to the form of interrogation methods proposed by the CIA and adopted by the Bush White House and the OLC lawyers in 2002.
8. Given John Yoo’s statement on p 15 of the New York Times Magazine of January 3, 2010, that “if there’s a conflict between the president and the Congress, then you have to pick one or the other,” we also request any documents shedding light on whom an OLC lawyer is supposed to ‘represent’ in rendering a legal opinion: the President, Congress, the Constitution, or the entire framework of domestic and international law?
This FOIA request is a good step. We hope it brings us closer to the accountability for torture that America needs.