WASHINGTON — Bush administration lawyers who paved the way for sleep deprivation and waterboarding of terrorism suspects exercised poor judgment but will not be referred to authorities for possible sanctions, according to a forthcoming ethics report, a legal source confirmed.
The work of John Yoo and Jay Bybee, officials in the Bush Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, provided the basis for controversial interrogation strategies that critics likened to torture in the years after al-Qaida's 2001 terrorist strikes on American soil. The men and their OLC colleague Steven Bradbury became focal points of anger from Senate Democrats and civil liberties groups because their memos essentially insulated CIA interrogators and contractors from legal consequences for their roles in harsh questioning.
The reasoning, set out in a series of secret memos only months after Sept. 11, 2001, prompted a multi-year investigation by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility, which reviews the ethics of Justice lawyers.
Representatives for Bybee and Bradbury declined to comment Saturday. Miguel Estrada, an attorney for Yoo, said he had not seen the findings and thus could not remark on them.