The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

February 26, 2010
Sen. Feinstein wants to know more on torture memo lawyers


The U.S. Justice Department may be punting on the government lawyers who authored the so-called torture memos, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein isn't willing to let go just yet.

In a decision disclosed a week ago, the department overruled its own ethics officials, who said that state disciplinary boards should consider whether John Yoo and Jay Bybee be disbarred for violating their duty.

In a statement issued today in conjunction with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the matter, Feinstein suggested that there is still something fishy that deserves attention.

"By all accounts, John Yoo and Jay Bybee were not incapable lawyers," she said in a statement. "There were reasons why their OLC memos were so poor. We need to understand these reasons and make sure they have been properly addressed. We need to make sure that the many negative consequences of these opinions are examined and remedied. And we need to ensure that Congress is properly informed of opinions of this nature, so that we can properly exercise our responsibility to provide oversight of the Department of Justice and make whatever changes in the law may be necessary as a result of such opinions."

The two lawyers "significantly misinterpreted U.S. law and international treaty obligations, to reach pre-ordained conclusions, with grave consequences for our national security," the California Democrat added. "The OLC memos reached egregious conclusions that coercive interrogation techniques did not cause severe physical or mental pain or suffering and that their use did not 'shock the conscience.' They were absolutely wrong."

As a Bee editorial this week pointed out, Feinstein is in an influential position because she is on the Judiciary Committee and is also chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, where she is privy to the details of the interrogations. That panel launched an inquiry last March into the CIA's detention and interrogation program and the results are due soon.

Feinstein, due to illness, missed the Judiciary hearing today on Yoo, who is now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Bybee, now a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

At the hearing itself, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont and watchdog groups weren't willing to let bygones be bygones for Yoo and Bybee. According to news reports, they demanded that the Justice Department investigate the disappearance of e-mail messages sent during 2002 as they drafted the memos. Leahy suggested that the missing e-mails cast doubt on the department's report clearing the two men of misconduct.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Stuart Leavenworth on Twitter

Follow "SacBeeEditBoard" on Twitter