A reader writes:
I am an attorney in New York City who grew up in Toronto. I also did a spell with the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Netherlands.
Like many of your readers, I strongly disagree with David Margolis's conclusions concerning referring Yoo and Bybee for sanctions. What is truly disgusting, however, is that his decision is being used to "vindicate" Yoo and Bybee. Any attorney whose work is described as representing "a dark chapter in the history of the Office of Legal Counsel" and is accused of allowing "his own ideology and convictions . . . to cloud his view of his obligations to his client" has no business practicing law or teaching in an reputable university. But beyond Yoo and Bybee, I am deeply dispirited by the message this sends about my profession.
There are many fine lawyers who endeavor to properly and responsibility counsel their clients on matters that most would view as far less important than interrogation policy. Many do so with far fewer resources and similar time constraints than those that faced Yoo. (One of the interesting insights from the Margolis and OPR reports is that a junior attorney assisted with much of the drafting of the first two torture memos). But because Yoo had extreme views to begin with, he will not be subjected to discipline for the ideological and slanted nonsense he produced while on the payroll of the American public. Future administrations now have every incentive now to stack the Department of Justice with hardcore ideologues who will embolden the worst impulses of their political masters instead of providing sober and dispassionate analysis.
Needless to say, when I discuss Yoo and Bybee with attorneys from other countries, they view the existence of a debate about their professionalism as a disgrace in and of itself. Reading Margolis's memorandum, one cannot escape the conclusion expressed by Jack Balkin that to be a member in good standing of the legal profession in the United States one need only moral standing that is a hair's breadth above your average mass murderer. It is a very dark day for my profession.