Bush-era Torture Lawyers Escape Federal Prosecution

Last month, the Office of Professional Responsibility released a statement saying that two former Bush Administration lawyers responsible for authoring legal memos that justified the use of torture were not guilty of professional misconduct.

The memos were released by Jay Bybee, a Court of Appeals Judge in San Francisco, and John Yoo, a law professor at UC Berkeley. The memos authorized the use of food deprivation, as well as waterboarding, a form of torture where water is poured down the nose and mouth to simulate drowning.

So far, all that has been said about the lawyers' conduct is that there has been poor judgment in issuing the memos. However, there is a possibility of further state punishment.

According to Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, it was a "close call as to whether Yoo intentionally or recklessly provided misleading advice to interrogators that cleared the path for harsh torture tactics," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Margolis elaborated by saying Yoo's "loyalty to his ideology and convictions clouded his view of his obligations to give the interrogators correct legal advice," and "led him to author opinions that reflected his own extreme, albeit sincerely held, views of executive power."

The Bush Administration has gotten away with many misdeeds during its tenure, including inhumane forms of torture in Guantanamo Bay prison. Since its establishment as a prison in 2002, Gitmo has always shown the ugly truth in regards to U.S. treatment of prisoners.

According to the Red Cross, forms of torture in Guantanamo Bay prison include waterboarding, sleep deprivation, starvation and even inducing pain and claustrophobic torment. "If anything bad happens to the U.S. anywhere in the world, they immediately react to us and treat us badly, like animals," Fawzi al-Odah, a 29 year-old prisoner of Guantanamo Bay, told the BBC.

By means of a 2009 executive order, President Obama mandated the prison to be closed within a year. But according to the LA Times, there has been trouble with closing the prison due to prisoner displacement.

Some on Capitol Hill were outraged by the fact that there were no federal prosecutions regarding the matter. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), the Democratic Chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary committees, have committed themselves to holding hearings on the matter.

The LA Times reported that Conyers "said the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, where Bybee and Yoo worked, has a 'proud tradition' of providing top-quality legal advice. But in this case, 'the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up to that tradition.'"

Since the Obama administration took office in 2009, very little action has been taken regarding misconduct within the Bush administration. According to the Times, even the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has monitored Guantanamo Bay, stated that Jay Bybee should be impeached and removed from office, or at least have the decency to resign from office.

The United States didn't appreciate it when American prisoners were tortured by the Axis powers during World War II. So what gives us the right to perform inhumane forms of torture now? The U.S. is a nation that has led the fight against human abuse and individual freedoms. What we are doing right now seems to be counteracting everything that we have stood for. By committing such acts, we give our opponents the right to do so as well.

The United States should take a stand against people who condone such barbaric acts. It is our duty as citizens to stop an act that tarnishes our nation and promotes atrocities against humanity.