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Group Seeks Disbarment of 'Torture Lawyers'

A group of antiwar activists is filing a series of legal ethics complaints today seeking the disbarment of 12 Bush-administration lawyers for their alleged roles in condoning torture. The complaints target a sitting federal circuit judge, Jay S. Bybee; three former attorneys general, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey; and eight others, including John Yoo and Stephen Bradbury, the authors with Bybee of the so-called torture memoranda.

"These lawyers misused their license to practice law to provide legal cover for the war crime of torture," said an e-mail from Kevin B. Zeese, a lawyer who is executive director of VotersForPeace.US and a board member of VelvetRevolution.US, the organizations that filed the complaints. "This misuse of their license requires the bar association to disbar them or the bar will become complicit in torture."

Detailed complaints, including more than 500 pages of supporting exhibits, have been filed with the bar-oversight organizations in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania, Zeese's statement says. Copies of the complaints and exhibits are posted online at

We have asked the respective state bars to revoke the licenses of these attorneys for moral turpitude. They failed to show “respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others,” and intentionally or recklessly failed to act competently, all in violation of legal Rules of Professional Conduct. Several attorneys failed to adequately supervise the work of subordinate attorneys and forwarded shoddy legal memoranda regarding the definition of torture to the White House and Department of Defense. These lawyers further acted incompetently by advising superiors to approve interrogation techniques that were in violation of U.S. and international law. They failed to support or uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the laws of the United States, and to maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers, all in violation state bar rules.

VotersForPeace describes itself an organization devoted to "educating, organizing and activating voters to end the occupation of Iraq and prevent future wars of agression." Zeese, its executive director, was the Green Party candidate for a Maryland U.S. Senate seat in 2006. An activist against the war and in favor of drug-policy reform, he was executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws from 1983 to 1986 and of the Ralph Nader-connected group Democracy Rising, which opposed the 2003 Iraq war. The other group that filed the complaints, Velvet Revolution, says it is a network of more than 120 progressive organizations devoted to "the peaceful road to change."

[For more details and copies of the complaints, see The BLT: "Coalition Seeks Disbarment of Bush Lawyers"]

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 18, 2009 at 11:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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