Investigate the Bush lawyers

I’ve been catching up on my reading of Slate, and this caught my attention: Lawyers aren’t Special. Milan Markovic argues that Bush administration lawyers ought to be investigated for their role in the commission of war crimes. Traditionally lawyers are exempt from such investigations, but this may be absurd:

[S]ince the Nuremberg trials, it has been a fundamental precept of international law that soldiers must disobey orders to commit war crimes. If soldiers are supposed to differentiate between lawful and unlawful orders, why should lawyers, who are trained to know the law, have the privilege of never being held accountable if they advise unlawful conduct?

That stance seems especially unwarranted since lawyers can offer legal advice in such a way as to account for differing points of view when addressing controversial legal issues. In fact, lawyers are mandated to at least consider opposing points of view. They may, moreover, refer to moral and political considerations when advising clients, not purely legal ones. And yet John Yoo and other administration attorneys wrote one-sided arguments about crucial aspects of the coercive interrogation policy.

Also, if you haven’t already listened to the Fresh Air interview with Philippe Sands, you really should. He argues not only that Bush administration officials (including the president) ought to be indited for war crimes, but that there is an excellent chance that they will be at some point, in a foreign country. This may or may not be little more then a thought experiment, but it’s a dazzling listen.

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