Watchdog Sues Over John Yoo Emails

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In February, the Justice Department finally released the details of its investigation into whether Bush lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee violated ethics rules when they composed the “torture memos” that provided the legal justification for the Bush administration’s detention and interrogation program.

The report by DOJ’s in-house watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), found that Yoo and Bybee were guilty of “professional misconduct.” But the OPR investigators were overruled by David Margolis, a career Justice Department official, and the Bush lawyers faced no consequences for their actions.

Still, the OPR report included a number of interesting details about how the detention and interrogation program was constructed—and how DOJ went about looking into it. Perhaps the most salient tidbit concerned John Yoo’s emails, which OPR lawyers couldn’t locate. “It became apparent” during the investigation “that relevant documents were missing,” the OPR investigators wrote. Among the missing items were “most” of Yoo’s emails, which “had been deleted and were not recoverable.”

Federal officials are generally required to preserve their emails. So Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog group, asked the DOJ to determine whether a crime had been committed. CREW, which sued the Bush administration over missing White House emails, soon followed-up with a series of Freedom of Information Act requests attempting to determine the scope of the DOJ’s recordkeeping problems. On Tuesday, the non-profit announced that it’s suing. “The public deserves to know the truth behind the… torture memos,” Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said in a statement. “The Obama administration faces a choice: it can cover-up the Bush administration’s misdeeds or allow the truth to come out and help the country confront and move past this shameful episode.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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