Rant of the Week


"Lawyers are often asked to offer their views on complicated questions with significant real-world consequences, and the idea that offering the wrong answer could implicate an attorney in criminal wrongdoing is a frightening prospect to many in the profession. It is not surprising, therefore, that lawyers are reluctant to condemn fellow lawyers on the basis of the advice that they give."  Washington Post, December 17, 2008

Wow.  Those lawyers!  And I'm sure I'll hear some more complaining about how lawyers are unfairly targeted for vilification and abuse.... but maybe the lawyers should get together and disbar Mr. Woo, a Bush Administration flunky, and Jack Goldsmith, a law professor (!) responsible for the muck- worthy insidiousness above.  Mr. Goldsmith asserts here that lawyers that advise government officials to do something illegal shouldn't be held accountable because otherwise, in the future, they will hesitate to offer good advice to the government, like, "hey, why don't you torture them", or "arrest and detain them without evidence or due process".

The discussion relates to the question of whether Bush Administration lawyers and other officials should ever be investigated for authorizing acts of torture.  Hell, no, says Mr. Goldsmith.  It will have a chilling effect on the ability of lawyers to encourage breaking the law in the future.

Normally at this point I would think of some kind of analogy to try to make clear how wrong I think it is to torture people.  But that would be an insult to the idea that torture itself is about as evil an act as one can imagine.  And the fact that you start thinking, "does someone need to explain to the Bush administration why torture is wrong.... do they not understand what torture is?  Do they not care that, in the future, they won't be able to complain about American soldiers being tortured because our enemies will be more than happy to adopt our rationale?

We know what will happen:  the torturers will be forgiven because they only obeyed orders.  The authorizers will be forgiven because they didn't actually carry out the torture.  Everyone else will be pardoned by Bush. 

All contents copyright   2008 Bill Van Dyk