May 18th, 2009
12:08 PM ET
13 years ago

Liberal groups seek disbarment of Bush lawyers over torture

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Alberto Gonzales is among the former attorneys general named in the complaints."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - A coalition of progressive groups sought Monday to have 12 Bush administration lawyers disbarred for their roles in crafting the legal rationale for so-called enhanced interrogation techniques that many view as torture.

"It is time to hold these lawyers accountable for violating their legal oath," Kevin Zeese, an attorney for the coalition, said in a written statement.

"Just as the bar would suspend an attorney who advised a police officer to torture and brutalize a detained immigrant or criminal defendant, the bar must suspend these attorneys for advocating and causing the torture of war detainees. The disciplinary boards that hear these complaints must act or they will be seen as complicit in the use of torture."

Zeese called disbarment "an important step toward the ultimate accountability of criminal prosecution."

The group registered formal complaints against David Addington, John Ashcroft, Stephen Bradbury, Jay Bybee, Michael Chertoff, Douglas Feith, Alice Fisher, Timothy Flanigan, Alberto Gonzales, William Haynes II, Michael Mukasey, and John Yoo.

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soundoff (151 Responses)
  1. Jason

    Convictions (Hopefully)
    Imprisonment (Hopefully)

    May 18, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Tim

    The only problem is that it is not torture. The memo's clearly defined what torture was, based on practices used in the past, and other historical analysis.

    But don't let facts get in your way.

    May 18, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Charm


    It's in the past? Let it go? Let's see...the Holocaust was in the past. So was the genocide in Rwanda. Oh and 9/11! 9/11 is in the past too! We can list a mountainful of injustices and say let's forget it, it's in the past. It's funny how conservatives like to turn the other cheek when it serves their purposes.

    These so-called lawyers failed in their duties to uphold the law and skewed it to serve Bush and his band of hooligans. I doubt they'll be disbarred, but at least a message is being sent.

    May 18, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Ron Ft. Myers

    In appropriate action by lawyers? Based on the standard being applied, all lawyers should be disbarred. Almost every moron in Washington is a lawyer and look what they have done to this country. Torturing is one thing, but these incompetent morons ruined the very fiber of this country and they have the audacity to still show their faces on tv. It is insulting to have one lawyer call for another to be disbarred. They are all rotten to the core and the very ones that brought this country down.

    May 18, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. walleye

    The lawyers are a good start. They should then go after Cheney, Rove and Bush.

    May 18, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. Lowell

    This is NOT a liberal or a conservative issue.

    This is NOT a democrat or a republican issue.

    This is a legal issue wherein the Bush administration, with malice and forethought, lied to the American public, manipulated the system and instituted an illegal action. This was done willingly and knowingly by the administration and they should be held accountable.

    Crimes are not forgotten. You don't 'look ahead instead of looking behind.' If that's the case, then you might as well give all the Manson family their paroles and let them out of jail not to mention every other person who has committed a crime or who will commit crimes.

    May 18, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Matt

    get them on the run and chase them out of government and to jail
    they need a taste of their own medicine. these few people do not represent our countries passion on life or human rights
    hopefully it will show the rest of the world that we will not stand for this kind of human abuse
    pick Cheney ,Rove and the rest of the cronnies up on the way to court and put them in jail too


    I see.... pouring water on someone's head is a human rights violation. But our "passion on life" stops short when it comes to aborting a fetus!!!!!!! Logic at its finest

    May 18, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Fair is Fair

    While we're at it...

    Let's posthumously prosecute the Roosevelt administration for the firebombings of Japanese and German cities... killing over 1 million CIVILIANS.

    Let's posthumously prosecute the Truman administration for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, instantly vaporizing over 100,000 CIVILIANS and innumerable others in the aftermath.

    Let's posthumously prosecute the Johnson administration for the atrocities in Viet Nam.

    Let's prosecute the Clinton administration for using depleted uranium munitions in the Balkans (look it up to see the damage this stuff caused). Bush the 41st and Bush the 43rd are guilty of this in the middle east as well.

    Let's just get everyone, ok?

    May 18, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Baze

    This is such bullcrap. I can't stand liberals! Think with your head and not your weak hearts. Prosecuting our own people opens the door for other countries to bring charges against the U.S. This is Pandora's box!

    May 18, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Peter (CA)


    Your rhetoric is getting tired. How about addressing the issues instead of dancing around them? If they were just stooges, then get them to testify. But, as some attorneys, don't they have to perform up to some code of ethics? (Yeah, I know attorneys and ethics sounds like a bad joke).
    If so, they have made themselves vulnerable. Doesn't matter if they were taking orders.

    But, hey we all know the right wingers NEVER do anything wrong, right?

    May 18, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. roscoe

    Imagine a lawyer being disbarred for being dishonest, lying, cheating someone out of money or some other terrible thing. Todays ethical conduct by most lawyers is very acceptable thats why most voters keep electing them. Look up how many lawyers are in congress.
    Good Luck!

    May 18, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  12. chutchin

    Sorry Janet, we certainly are not privy to any information concerning whether something worked or it didn't. I would like to know how YOU specifically know what saved thousands of lives? What were those lives saved from? Hmmm...just as I thought. I might have agreed with part of your statement until you threw in the idiot remark concerning loons. We, as citizens of the United States have no idea-really-what our government has done to keep us safe. So, before you start crowing again and repeating the "mantra" from Faux News of the thousands of lives saved-you might want to revise that. Because I highly doubt that you are privy to any type of CIA or FBA information...

    And by the way, are you Janet J from Nevada or Janet J from Colorado?

    May 18, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Joe Terrogano

    Dave, the truth teller.

    After reading your post, it is clear what a gentle, thoughtful man you are. "Liberal pukes are hypocrits" is such a mature, emotionally balanced statement, despite the spelling error. You are a paragon of virtue Dave.

    May 18, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Rob Johnson

    That sounds about right.

    Since they were only acting under orders from Cheney and others, I don't think they should go to jail.

    However, if they were willing to play that fast and loose with the rules, they should never be allowed to practice law again.

    May 18, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. big papa

    The grandchildren and great grands of lynchers, bomb throwers, rapists and murderers...

    ...can't see anything wrong with what the Bush administration did...

    ...what's a little torture among right wing demons?

    May 18, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. Laurie in Spokane

    Along with disbarring the attornies listed in the article, legal proceedings should be brought against Bush, Cheney and Rove. They're the ones that pushed for the torture techniques. They're actually more guilty than the lawyers. However, the lawyers could have resigned or removed themselves from the process if they thought the procedures pushed for by Cheney Bush and Rove were illegal. They didn't do that did they? If nothing is done to punish the attornies and Bush/Cheney/Rove, we (U,S,) are in effect saying to the rest of the as I say not as I do.

    May 18, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. aware

    yes, disbarrment is in order; that or give them the option of working and advocating for the disadvantaged.

    more of us need to step up and start speaking truth to power that oppresses, suppresses, marginalizes and dehumanizes humanity.

    when we don't speak out on crimes against humanity–whatever they may be–we absolve ourselves of our right and responsibility to advocate for those who are too vulnerable to defend themselves.

    May 18, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Karen S Crow

    What specific law did these individuals break? If you say "torture" .. then I ask for a specific definition of the word and the manner in which these lawyers "broke" this law.

    I will again warn the Left and those of you who want these individuals persecuted and prosecuted of this ... Time moves forward and power shifts, even in DC .... and those in power who seek prosecution today may find themselves on the receiving end of an "investigation" (or as I consider it, an inquisition!) at some point. While today you may believe your stance is valid, those in power in the future will believe their stance just as valid.

    Tread carefully for that which you release into the Universe often returns to you.

    May 18, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. chutchin

    Mississippi Mike:

    You are very confused buddy...what you are talking about is the definition of the Republicans. Better think again.

    May 18, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. slim-fl

    We know the real issue here, it's not who knew and did nothing, but the ones that put them up to it. And the truth is Cheney said he is for torture and Bush was full aware and gave orders, why not go after them and anyone who was involved. No matter if Dem or Rep.
    They screw up big time for this nation and if nothing is done. We are just as guilty as the Taliban. No difference.

    May 18, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  21. RRR

    DO IT! Disbar them. This is a much bigger and more important issue than Nancy Pelosi.

    The selective memory of the GOP hate-mongers in this blog amazes me! Evidently Alberto Gonzalez is a hero to them. For eight years we heard only lies out of Washington...but now you pick on every word Obama hypocritical. about finding the lawyers that told Bush that ignoring the balanced budget for eight years was ok....when legally every statre has to have a balanced budget. This is ANOTHER Bush disgrace!

    May 18, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  22. Ronnie

    @ dominican mama 4 Obama

    Three more years and we'll finally stand up and say we screwed up, royally. Everyone will see that most Democrats lie and shift their position in order to gain more votes, while liberals ignore their transgressions and attack Republicans with NO evidence of wrongdoing. I hope many of you have the wisdom to see this.

    May 18, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  23. A Real American

    Their reasoning is precisely on point. A lawyer cannot advise the violation of the law. They are indeed open to professional discipline for their aiding and abetting these criminal actions.

    And I say that as a professional involved in the attorney discipline process for over twenty years.

    May 18, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Nicole

    Is it just me or seeing his face makes your skin crawl???

    May 18, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. Marc

    awaitingliberalizationbyCNN and all the others that are saying that 'they didn't did anything illegal' or 'they gave a legal advice, therefore they cannot be prosecuted for it...', if I am a lawyer and I give to my client (in their case the US government) the advice that what he/she/they are doing is legal, when it isn't, then I am commiting a felony if not becoming an acessory to the crime he/she/they commite.
    Walter – Those who tried to do what you're saying were either disbarred, blacklisted, convicted in kangaroo trials or simply become the lousiest lawyers of all Germany, since they couldn't win any case of their own!

    May 18, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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