The Margolis memo simply doesn’t make sense as a discussion of legal ethics. It is a political document and has to be understood that way. It tells us that Department political interests trump ethics.
Over the past two years, I have consistently been told by insiders at Justice that an elaborate game was played to try to slow down or block the OPR’s report. Efforts were made to pressure OPR to rewrite its report, to adopt softer standards, to allow Yoo and Bybee to respond internally, and to require OPR to address the responses. I was told that one man was consistently behind these tactics: David Margolis. So, far from being an objective and impartial analyst, Margolis became engaged in the process at least by the fall of 2008, as an advocate for Yoo and Bybee and opponents of OPR.
It cannot be easy for a DOJ institutional figure like Margolis to acknowledge that the Justice Department housed war criminals. But Eric Holder seems perfectly content with it as well. It takes time for the establishment to expose itself. Remember: only the Lynndie Englands go to jail in America; their commanders get to go on NPR and spin.