Introduction to Legal Reasoning

By James Kwak

As many of you know, I am a law student. The law is a fascinating subject . . . if you are fascinated by the art of making fine distinctions that most people think are silly. So I thought that the subject of John Yoo and the torture memos might be good material for a good primer on how lawyers think.

The procedural facts are that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility wrote a report severely criticizing John Yoo and Jay Bybee for various ethical lapses. Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, however, decided not to take further action against Yoo and Bybee.

As Jack Balkin, a professor at my school and noted blogger, explains, the issue was what standard to use in evaluating their behavior. Standards are one of the great joys of the legal profession. As any watcher of Law and Order knows, defendants in criminal cases must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” whatever that means. (Hint: it doesn’t mean beyond any doubt.) In this case, the Office of Professional Responsibility found that Justice Department lawyers had “a duty to exercise independent legal judgment and to render thorough, objective, and candid legal advice,” which seems reasonable. But in Balkin’s words, “This standard, Margolis explained, is much too high a requirement and not one that Yoo and Bybee were previously warned was the standard to which they would be held.”

Lawyers everywhere, breathe easy: you can’t be held accountable if you fail to “render thorough, objective, and candid legal advice.”

“Instead, Margolis argues that, judging by (among other things) a review of D.C. bar rules, the standard for attorney misconduct is set pretty damn low. . . . To show misconduct, according to the standard that Margolis finds most relevant, one would have to show that Yoo or Bybee intentionally made arguments that they knew were wrong and false or did so not caring whether they were wrong or false.”

(Emphasis added.) Did they?

“As for John Yoo, Margolis explains (although he puts it far more diplomatically) that Yoo was an ideologue who entered government service with a warped vision of the world in which he sincerely believed. . . . Therefore it is hard to conclude that Yoo deliberately gave advice that he knew was wrong to the CIA. Yoo isn’t putting people on when he says the absurd things he says in these memos and elsewhere.* He actually believes that the President is a dictator and that the President doesn’t have to obey statutes that make torture a crime.”

Crazy lawyers everywhere, breathe easy. In short, you can have a completely twisted notion of the law; but as long as you really believe it to be true, you won’t be disbarred.

Is this right? Of course not (in the normative sense, that is). In ordinary civil liability suits, you can be held liable simply for not behaving the way a reasonable person would under the same circumstances. Even the criminal law is full of statutes that punish defendants for outcomes that they didn’t intend. Do we really want lawyers out there who think crazy things are true? We’re not talking about criminal prosecution in this proceeding, just about potentially disbarring Yoo and Bybee — that is, protecting potential future clients from them. And even if you want to protect lawyers in general against being punished for making honest (if crazy) mistakes, wouldn’t you want to hold government lawyers to a higher standard?

Margolis’s standard is extremely high: not only do you have to know you are saying stupid things, you have to not care that you are saying stupid things. This is the kind of protection that is usually reserved for people charged with really serious offenses. For example, according to the Model Penal Code,** if you create a homicidal risk and someone gets killed, but you weren’t aware of the risk, you are only guilty of negligent homicide. If you are aware that you are creating a substantial homicidal risk, that qualifies as reckless homicide, which is still only a form of manslaughter. To be guilty of murder, you have to not only be aware of the risk, you also have to show extreme indifference to the value of human life. In other words, not only do you have to know you are putting lives in danger, you have to not care.

As Balkin puts it, “In effect, by setting the standard of conduct so low, rules of professional conduct effectively work to protect all those lawyers out there whose moral standing is just a hair’s breadth above your average mass murderer. This is how the American legal profession simultaneously polices and takes care of its own.”

So it seems like Yoo and Bybee can skate by. Brad DeLong thinks, however, that Yoo is guilty even by Margolis’s standard, because he intentionally made incorrect arguments and didn’t care that they were false.

* For example:

“What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? … Is that a power that the president could legally—”

“Yeah,” Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. “Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief’s power over tactical decisions.”

“To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?” the OPR investigator asked again.

“Sure,” said Yoo.

** Actually, according to my criminal law professor’s account of the MPC.

40 responses to “Introduction to Legal Reasoning

  1. Seems to be similar to the standard we are applying to so many of the politicians we elect to Congress. But then again, so many of them are also lawyers.
    By the way, now that I know you are a law student, I may better understand some of what occasionally seems economic nonsense in what you write.

  2. DakotabornKansan

    “This standard, Margolis explained, is much too high a requirement and not one that Yoo and Bybee were previously warned was the standard to which they would be held.”

    Compare the above moral failings to Helmuth von Moltke, the German jurist who opposed Hitler and the Nazis and the environment in which the law was constantly subverted to political expedience. Read Scott Horton’s “When Lawyers Are War Criminals” marking the anniversary of the Nuremberg Tribunals:

    “I come to the example of Moltke…namely that he very properly puts the emphasis not on the simple soldiers who invariably operate the weaponry of war, but on those who make the policies that drive their conduct. And in that process, his stern gaze falls first on the lawyers. In a proper society, the lawyers are the guardians of law, and in times of war, their role becomes solemn. Moltke challenges us to test the conduct of the lawyers. Do they show fidelity to the law? Do they recognize that the law of armed conflict, with its protections for disarmed combatants, for civilians and for detainees, reflects a particularly powerful type of law – as Jackson said “the basic building blocks of civilization”? Do they appreciate that in this area of law, above all others, the usual lawyerly tricks of dicing and splicing, of sophist subversion, cannot be tolerated? These are questions Moltke asked. They are questions that the US-led prosecution team in Nuremberg asked. They are questions that Americans should be asking today about the conduct of government lawyers who have seriously wounded, if not destroyed, the Geneva system.”

    Alas, the Department of Justice’s test of the conduct of the lawyers is, as Balkin puts it, “In effect, by setting the standard of conduct so low, rules of professional conduct effectively work to protect all those lawyers out there whose moral standing is just a hair’s breadth above your average mass murderer. This is how the American legal profession simultaneously polices and takes care of its own.”

    Instead of facing prison, Yoo and Bybee have been the recipients of a whitewash by the Obama DOJ. Shameful!

    “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any prisoner. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.”
    – George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775

    Not today. Not the lawyers.

  3. Areasonableman

    As a “random” sample reasonable man, I am amazed that one possessing such unreasonable, bizarre, and totalitarian thinking processes can be admitted to the bar in the first place.

  4. Good post.
    I’m no supporter of the incompetent Bush regime, or its lackies, like Yoo.

    In the question of the President ordering a village wiped out, the answer seems obvious.

    However, FDR and Truman did largely the same thing on a much larger scale in authorizing/permitting massive conventional and atomic bombings on Germany and Japan aimed at the populace.

    I think the atomic bombing of Japan saved very large numbers of US troops and Japanese civilians, compared to what an invasion would have consumed.

    On the question of torture, I don’t doubt you can break people down with it, and get info that could be cross checked for value and lead to successful operations.

    In the very unlikely circumstance that someone did have info on a masss casualty attack, and the info couldn’t be derived any other way, would you really want the intelligence services not to use torture, if your family were living in the target area?

  5. I’m glad you are still a law student because your analysis of the issue is itself flawed. Have you even read the final report? It shows how the initial OPR report was basically a piece of crap. The drafters did not apply well established OPR standards and did not even cite a specific disciplinary rule that had been filed. Only after this was pointed out to them did the OPR report drafters attempt to backfill their embarrassing failures. If anyone should be professionally embarrassed by this episode, it should be the ideologues who “investigated” and wrote the initial OPR report – it was a witch hunt from day one. Fortunately, Margolis intervened. And your Prof. Balkin? Good lord – please don’t think that anything he says will be of value to you as a practicing attorney.

  6. “Margolis’s standard is extremely high: not only do you have to know you are saying stupid things, you have to not care that you are saying stupid things.”

    I think you mean “extremely low”. :)

  7. Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac

    Ouch. Outside of your allegations of witch hunts and feigned outrage over the OPR, care to back up any of your assertions? I hope you’re not just trolling here.

  8. It is true that carpet bombing campaigns are pretty much the moral equivalent of killing everyone in a village. You might have to debate what percentage of the population was actively supporting the policies of the enemy or profiting from them. In a dictatorship that is hard to do. In World War II we had a high degree of confidence the enemy would use those population centers to continue a policy of torture, murder, and conquest.

    To address the issue of the President(not really the decision maker when Bush was sitting there) having the right to torture who ever he feels like, it is for protection of us all. The distance between secretly pulling a Canadian off a plane in Dulles Airport and torturing him for 6 months and secretly grabbing a US citizen is a very small step in the mind of lawyer like Yoo. As long as you never plan to step foot outside the US you might get away with indifference. But if we do it to other countries( our allies) you better be prepared to have it done to your own citizens and of course your government agents.

  9. Agoraphobic Kleptomaniac

    “In the very unlikely circumstance that someone did have info on a masss casualty attack, and the info couldn’t be derived any other way, would you really want the intelligence services not to use torture, if your family were living in the target area?”

    Yes, I don’t want them to torture. As has been shown many times over and over again, torture gives you tainted intelligence, and usually wrong information. You start torturing, and the guy will point you in the wrong way, and confess to anything and everything you ask him about.

    Torture to these guys is a step to martyrdom, or as we found out in the 60’s, a push towards mental disintegration and a broken mind that’s no good to anyone.

  10. Wow. Synchronicity. As I watched Taxi to the Dark Side, I could not help to draw parallels to management of banks. Extreme Pressure for results, high reward for sucess, high penalty for failure, and vague rules of conduct lead to inevitable atrocities.

  11. Clear evidence of Scienter (purposeful, intentional violation – actual knowledge of wrongdoing, or it’s reckless or gross negligence constructive equivalent) is precisely the appropriate standard to apply towards this kind of ethics complaint. Margolis is indeed correct in this matter. A supreme court case on point which holds opposite of the content of one’s opinion would be an excellent example of such evidence.

    The problem is that the lack of precedent prior to the composition of the memos gives rise to a zone of ambiguity where that standard becomes very hard to meet. But that doesn’t mean we should relax the rules of finding a violation of professional responsibility when there’s still (legal) room for debate.

  12. Nice post.

    This is yet another example of “the fox guarding the henhouse.”

    I worked for a state Bar Association in the office doling out “discipline.” Protection of the public was minimal, and the alleged pursuit of disciplinary actions was effectively “for show” except in extremely egregious situations (typically when there was either a criminal or civil conviction).

    Lawyers are a club and will protect their own. This has always been the way, and I don’t expect it to change.

  13. I was clicking randomly when my monitor went out yesterday. Besides somehow landing in a relationship I also refinanced my house and learned the secret to ripped abs!

    “Crazy lawyers everywhere, breathe easy. In short, you can have a completely twisted notion of the law; but as long as you really believe it to be true, you won’t be disbarred.

    Is this right? Of course not…In ordinary civil liability suits, you can be held liable simply for not behaving the way a reasonable person would under the same circumstances.”

    “Of course not.” Really?
    Isn’t the professional role of lawyers to examine the law and advocate for their interpretation? You reinforce the opinion with mention of civil liability, but that of course relates to a persons actions.

    While the stakes are often high, a pleading is still ultimately an intellectual exploration. I find the idea chilling that a lawyer could be disbarred for earnestly pursuing an idea viewed as a “twisted notion” by a committee.

    Surely over our own short history there have been innumerable instances where a “twisted notion” of one age has become legal bedrock in another.

    Certainly that standard should be *different* within the DoJ with a intellectual floor set somewhere between mainstream and fringe.

    But to disbar for earnestly pursuing a legal interpretation, no matter how radical, is a clear limitation of freedom of thought.

    imo

  14. Ack, ignore the first two line of that post, got copied/pasted from a facebook post! This place needs an edit feature in the comments.

  15. Ignore the first two line of that post, got copied/pasted from a facebook post! This place needs an edit feature in the comments.

  16. So Yoo is crazy, and Margolis is crazy for letting him off the hook, and everyone who’s not condemning Margolis’ whitewash is crazy for not doing so, and it’s fascist turtles all the way down.

    But since Obama and his lawyers are committing most of the same crimes, I guess the whitewashing stands to reason.

    Is this another WW2 war crimes precedent now abrogated? I don’t recall exactly, but wasn’t one of the crimes for which Hans Frank was hanged his help in legalizing Hitler’s aggressive and genocidal actions? (The Nazis were punctilious about legality, and Frank was their equivalent of attorney general.)

  17. DakotabornKansan

    Mr. ToughMoneyLove denigrates the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) findings of ethical misconduct against Yoo and Bybee, “…ideologues who ‘investigated’ and wrote the initial OPR report – it was a witch hunt from day one.” Does he think Margolis rejected most of OPR’s findings and its analysis? Does he think Margolis exonerates Yoo and Bybee?

    Read the final report. Margolis accepts the OPR’s findings that the torture memos were wrong, extreme, reckless, and the result of “poor judgment.” “While I have declined to adopt OPR’s finding of misconduct, I fear that John Yoo’s loyalty to his own ideology and convictions clouded his view of his obligation to his client and led him to adopt opinions that reflected his own extreme, albeit sincerely held, views of executive power while speaking for an institutional client,” Margolis wrote. Exoneration? Vindication?

    Yoo and Bybee were only rescued by Margolis’s argument that OPR failed to elaborate clear standards against which they could be judged. Alas, the Department of Justice’s test of the conduct of the lawyers is, as Balkin puts it, “In effect, by setting the standard of conduct so low, rules of professional conduct effectively work to protect all those lawyers out there whose moral standing is just a hair’s breadth above your average mass murderer.” Evidence that the DOJ is no longer capable of policing itself.

  18. How can we be sure that John Yoo truly believes his warped vision of the President’s powers or is creating a cover for himself? He is a lawyer after all. This can only be resolved using enhanced interrogation techniques. My recommendation is to go with 138 consecutive water boarding sessions. We may find he wants to recant his story, we just don’t know how many rounds it will take.

  19. That answer from Yoo is truly amazing, and makes it deeply disturbing that he is teaching budding lawyers more or less as we speak.

    That said, James, this is a statement that could only be written by a law student:

    “Standards are one of the great joys of the legal profession”

    No, mostly standards are stupid platitudes that frame the way you state the argument.

  20. Under torture, the person usually gives up whatever it takes to stop the pain.

    If it’s done professionally, with rapid cross checking, lying often won’t work, and the victim is made to understand that.

    The Nazis were usually able to make it work, and resistance people who had a person in their cell captured knew they would have to flee because it was likely the victim would give up names.

    That’s the ugly reality. The Bush regime, being what it was, used torture stupidly and on far too many people, with little or no right or reason.

  21. I think you are ultimately right, but the legal realist in me has to point out that it is lawyers who create the standards, and it is not surprise that they set themselves a law bar in this regard.

  22. This is possibly the first post here that I just couldn’t finish reading.

  23. Mike Bloomfield

    Mr. Yoo was interviewed this morning by Michael Krasny on KQED radio. It was terrifying to hear how absolutely reasonable Mr. Yoo sounded as he responded to Mr. Krasny’s questions about executive privelege, torture, etc. Reasonable-sounding idealogues have the capacity to create and justify Holocausts. Mr. Yoo is very certain in his own mind that his vision is the correct vision. Yowser!!

  24. politics
    laywers
    bankers

    I’m disheartened by the world. our only shining light is doctors in healthcare… fee for service, at least their problem is straight forward! we can’t even explain what is wrong with the 3 mentioned prior.

    Will someone do something about the entitlement programs please?

  25. Let’s make this simple. As a recovering lawyer, I reserve the right to do so. Let’s put all this fancy talk about standards and scienter aside for the moment.

    Yoo advised government employees that they could engage in acts (e.g. waterboarding) that had been had been deemed illegal for years; conduct that had been punishable within the U.S. and internationally for years. There were no precidents to the contrary. This advice did not meet even minimal legal standards. Full stop.

    Yoo is no different than the guy who was convicted of murdering an abortion doctor because he believed he was saving the unborn babies. Yoo should face a similar fate. Instead he teaches. The guy should have his ticket pulled if not put in jail.

    James, please respond to the editorial in the WSJ today. It is even more outrageous than has usually been the case since Rupe bought the place.

  26. Enjoyed the post James, you know what they say:

    95% of lawyers make the other 5% look bad.

    In this case, bat-%!#$ crazy.

  27. The problem with the law today is that – there is no law. Yeah we have the codes, and standards, rules, and that thing we call the Constitution, – but it does not mean anything. There is no substance in the law, because people like yoo, bybee and the other shaitans and fascists in the bushgovernment, can justify anything (even if it is based on distrorted, cherrypicked, dodgey, and otherwise FALSE realities), – they can use their political power, and the complicit parrots in the socalled MSM to perpetuate essentially FALSE myths and fictions and godswill.

    Point in case any comparison with the actions taken by FDR, or Truman who were thrust into necessary conflicts with very real enemies, with superior if not equal military power, and who aims and ends were world domination by force. Contrast the fascists in the bushgov who attacked, invaded, occupied, and profiteered wantonly from a nation that was not an enemy, posed no real threat to America, had nothing to do with 9/11, had no WMD, and possessed a greatly weakened far inferior military, whose aims and ends were purely local. The entire Iraq horrorshow was, is, and always will be based on a pile of rotten putrid OSP bushgovernment conjured patent LIES!!!! There is no justifying a LIE!!!. No matter how artful or committed yoo might be in his convictions, – the basis of his advise and pernicious legal interpretation is rooted in LIES!!!

    If there really are laws, and the rule of law, and that thing called the Constitution, – freaks like yoo, bybee, gonzoles, freah, cheney, olsen, the entire bush crime family cabals, et al. would be in prison now.

    Amerika today has two sets of laws. One malleable, manipulative, and purchased that applies to the superrich, the predatorclass, – and another that applies ruthlessly and oppressively to the rest of the population, and particularly our notwhite fellow Americans. How can there be two sets of laws? How can there be two sets of guiding principles and standards? How can there be two distinct and separate interpretations of the rule of law? It is impossible. Either, there are laws, and everyone is applicable and accountable no matter how rich or – in practical effect – there are no laws. In a world where there are no laws, – there are no laws for anyone predators.

  28. Are you not just assuming that the person being tortured has useful intelligence? The problem with the ticking time bomb scenario has always been that the likelihood of having the right person to supply the useful information is slim. Are you really comfortable with willy-nilly torturing innocent people just on the chance that you might have the right one, and can wade your way through disinformation in time for the information to have value, considering that the comrades of captured thugs will figure said thug will talk sometime, and therefore make changes to make useless the information the thug has? Think of how many of the people at Guantanamo have turned out to be of no value, intelligence wise, that have been tortured. Three that were due to be released were tortured to death, and their deaths made to look like suicides, which were used by our government for propaganda. The FBI says their methodology of building rapport with the suspect is far superior in gaining useful information.

  29. The problem is that the winners write the rules. Since no one has beat the U.S. yet, the international community is not going to enforce the law. They will not save us from our outlaw government.

  30. Like most things, the premises of the argument are what I find most interesting, the questions not asked, the deaths not even considered. I doubt my words will change anyone’s mind because most people are indoctrinated to not think – they simply lack the intellectual campacity to see certain things.
    It is somehow beyond the pail to torture someone, who is an enemy, or suspected enemy, even though, at the end of the day, that person still has their life.
    Latest reports from Afghanistan show that as many as 27 civilians perished (by US actions) as we were trying to save them (for old timers, this will sound familiar). The breakdown of the old, women, children was not given. The number of those blinded, maimed, or premanently injured is also not given.

    But the response will be that is war – torturing someone personally is a crime – dropping bombs on children annoymously is fine.
    Do I oppose war? Hell no. As Orwell said, “What do you do when someone drops a bomb on your mother? Drop two bombs on his mother.” But I do not pretend it is legal, just, or anything other than horror.
    The death of one man is a tradegy – the death of a million a statistic.

  31. This exaggerated and grandiose idea of the duty of lawyers in government service is counterproductive. We are talking about low level flunkies whose only job is to rubber stamp executive decisions; they would not last one hour doing anything else. Put the responsibility where it belongs: at the top. Nobody with any knowledge or understanding of the legal process pays any attention to the arguments of lawyers, whose job is to suggest any argument permitted by the facts, and whose only responsibility is not to hide or misrepresent the facts.

    If you hope to solve the problem of shyster lawyering, start by abolishing the monopoly of the bar and let anybody hold himself out as a lawyer just as anyone can offer financial advice. State bar monopolies have delivered the legal system into the hands of organized rent seeking charlatans. Ask anyone suffering through an accident, a divorce, a real estate transaction, anything in which a citizen comes face to face with the law. Lawyer regulation is a travesty, and the only beneficiaries are the lawyers dominating those bar committees and state legislatures.

  32. Read what I wrote.
    Of course there is an assumption that intelligence indicates that the subject has information.

  33. RA: “The problem with the ticking time bomb scenario has always been that the likelihood of having the right person to supply the useful information is slim.”

    There are other problems with the ticking time bomb scenario. For instance, there may be no bomb at all. Besides which, time is against you. If there is a bomb, the person being tortured only has to hold out for a brief period of time before the bomb goes off and his information becomes useless. In addition, he can buy time by giving false information.

    Also, from a legal point of view, there is an excellent reason not to make torture in a ticking time bomb scenario legal. In the case of such a scenario, if torture does prevent the bomb from going off — which is the premise for using it in the first place –, the torturer will surely be pardoned, or perhaps not even brought to trial. (What jury would convict?)

    The law is a blunt instrument. Better to have a law which may be broken in exigent circumstances, than a law which covers those possibilities. Why? Because then breaking the law when things are not so dire will also be excused.

  34. Excuse me, I was quoting JS, not RA. Sorry. :(

  35. fresno dan: “It is somehow beyond the pail to torture someone, who is an enemy, or suspected enemy, even though, at the end of the day, that person still has their life.”

    Don’t be too sure of that. Torture kills.

  36. Spaceman Spliff

    So now the standard for whether professional sanctions may be applied to any individual miscreants are no longer to be based upon any objective criteria (CAT, anyone?), but rather on a subjective judgement by Mr Margolis as to just how “sincere in their beliefs” they were about the righteousness of their (nauseating) ideology?

    I guess this means that the Nuremburg defendants we snuffed are all due for official apologies and “rehabilitation”–perhaps Medals of Freedom, in lieu of monetary reparations to their families.

    That is where we are, once war crimes are allowed to become contingent on “sincerity of belief” in one’s cause, which is in any case fundamentally unknowable.

    I think Mr. Margolis was simply determined to find any reason, however weak, to justify holding his colleagues unaccountable for their actions. A status quo that must be maintained at all costs, lest the world as they have known/made it, come to an end.

  37. and bombs don’t?
    But let’s take your point: Killing someone in custody (and it is hard to imagine it being a child) is worse than killing children annomously.
    I disagree.

  38. A lawyer has a very different job when acting as counselor than when acting as advocate.

    IMO Prof. Yoo’s failure to properly apply Youngstown — which he’s taught for years — and misapplication of Quirin (in one memo, he cites it for the exact opposite point made in the case where, if properly cited, Quirin would show that his whole concept was bogus) show that his conduct was intentional. As indeed his conduct now shows.

  39. DakotabornKansan

    Scott Horton/Harper’s Magazine/ February 24, 2010 on The Margolis Memo:

    “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…

    Margolis’s own memorandum weirdly mirrors the torture memoranda. He uses what legal academics call the doctrine of legal indeterminacy as a shield for these lawyers. He argues that the law is unclear, riddled with ambiguities. Of course, this is the key weapon used by Yoo in the torture memo and a number of others—he claims that the legal standards are unclear and that in the face of such uncertainty, the power of the president as commander-in-chief cannot be limited…Margolis proceeds to demonstrate that he knows next to nothing (and apparently cares very little) about U.S. law of war doctrine. His arguments are clever and cute—about the sort of thing one would expect of a very aggressive defense counsel…

    Margolis really doesn’t think that the candor rules of the Code of Professional Responsibility should apply to the torture memo writers…Let’s be clear about what makes David Margolis tick…He represents a culture of craven clientalism in which lawyers are not the champions of the law but instruments in the hands of their employers, dedicated to getting them the results they want. Margolis is prepared to do the bidding of his master, whether his name is Alberto Gonzales or Eric Holder. In the case of the torture memo writers, he also saw a threat to the culture he has promoted at the Justice Department. It would lead, he thought, to internecine warfare within the department between Democrats and Republicans. Indeed, prominent Republicans were threatening just that. Nothing would be so threatening to the matrix in which Margolis thrives as this, and he was determined to stop it. So the final outcome in the Bybee/Yoo case has nothing to do with legal ethics. It is driven by David Margolis’s assessment of pragmatic politics and his willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals.”

  40. torture is the worst policy of government… if purpose and value is dissolved why reorginize when you can humiliate ignorant ‘bad people’
    .
    stupidity does not necessarily make stupidity a right of Great Nations
    .
    waste is everywhere but government