First We Get All The Lawyers

Emily Bazelon offers the following:

That footnote also demonstrates why if we're going to investigate or prosecute anyone, it shouldn't be the agents on the scene. In the wake of Obama's carefully crafted statement fending off prosecution for anyone who relied in good-faith on the DoJ memos, some commentators have called for looking into whether CIA agents could go down for torturing before the memos were written in August 2002. This seems wrong to me. If we went that route, we'd get around version of Abu Ghraib: a few low-level scapegoats standing in for their far more culpable superiors. Much more interesting is another possibility Obama left open: going after the lawyers who wrote the memos and the officials who demanded and approved them--David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, Jim Haynes. Rahm Emanuel told George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that Obama believes that "those who devised policy... should not be prosecuted either." But what about disbarment? And impeachment for Jay Bybee, the torture memo author who got life tenure on the 9th Circuit? It would be a start. If you think these memos are good lawyering, then you don't deserve to be a lawyer. That's a lesson the bar should desperately want to impart.

On thing that I've wondered for some time is why we expect the Attorney General, appointed by the president, to actually be independent of the president. I don't have a good answer there. But it seems like the very nature of the appointment process lends itself to corruption.