Mitt Romney Names Two Torture Lawyers to “Justice Advisory Committee”

The headline news about Mitt Romney’s new advisory committee of 63 lawyers is that Robert Bork is co-chairing it.

But even more troubling is that he has named two of the lawyers that okayed torture–Steven Bradbury and Tim Flanigan–to it.

Bradbury, of course, wrote the Combined Torture memo, which found, in part, that waterboarding someone 183 times in a month does not shock the conscience.

He also told DOD it could do whatever it wanted, so long as it called it “Appendix M.” Bradbury failed to mention that memo from Congress, too, when they asked for a list of all the torture memos he had been involved in.

Bradbury would have been investigated over the memos he wrote, had Michael Mukasey not intervened.

Flanigan was one of the three lawyers–along with David Addington and Alberto Gonzales–who told John Yoo to turn the Torture Memo into a “Get Out of Jail Free” card by saying that if the Commander-in-Chief ordered torture, then it couldn’t be prosecuted.

Now, why would Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney appoint two men who called torture legal to his Justice Advisory Committee?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

18 replies
  1. Brian Silver says:

    Why? He loves lawyers who are facilitators, and these guys are among the most facilitating kinds of lawyers. Those with principles need not apply.

  2. rugger9 says:

    No one who is in power like to hear “no” regardless of the circumstances. A real leader (not Mittens) would take steps to prevent such groupthink, since the real world is full of imperfection.

    That being said, it’s worth hanging these clowns in the court of public opinion. All you need to do is buy the air time.

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    Why? To appeal to the GOP right, which is full of doubts about him.

    In his defense, finding 63 competent GOP lawyers WITHOUT finding one with a connection to torture or evesdropping is likely impossible.

    Boxturtle (Besides, he might LIKE torture)

  4. emptywheel says:

    @matthew carmody: In a sense, torture gets you to BOTH Mormons AND Opus Dei.

    There’s Mitchell and Jessen, Jay Bybee, and Tim Flanigan, all good Mormons.

    But if you look at the lawyers who authorized torture, all ended up clerking for Opus Dei member Clarence Thomas.

  5. rkilowatt says:

    1. Romney is dramatizing his vision of what would a god do.

    2. He was out of the loop; was only doing what advisors reccomended.

    3. He is addicted to status. All addiction begets insanity. It is a human trait that is often intolerable. We live with it until a remedy is developed.

  6. joberly says:

    Ew–thanks for the link. Presumably there are no sitting federal judges on this panel, just former ones such as Robert Bork, along with attorneys now in private practice. I glanced at the list the *Post* printed and don’t see any of the so-called conservative “elves” from the Clinton impeachment days, the ones who served as the link between Paula Jones’s attorneys and Kenneth Starr’s office. For that matter, I wonder if there are any former Office of Independent Counsel/Starr employees on Romney’s list?

  7. Peterr says:

    Now, why would Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney appoint two men who called torture legal to his Justice Advisory Committee?

    To balance one of the guys who helped tear down the oversight of the banks during the 1990s, J Caleb Boggs III.

    Per Sourcewatch:

    According to his Blank Rome profile, “Boggs served as Republican counsel to the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee and Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (1991-95). He also served as Senate Banking Committee counsel to Sen. William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE), helping to craft the Reigle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act, among other landmark legislation. Mr. Boggs continues to work closely with the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees on issues impacting the financial services industry, as well as the Congressional Appropriations and tax-writing committees.

    “Born in Washington, D.C. with strong ties to Delaware, Mr. Boggs continues his family tradition of being actively engaged in Republican political activities. He has advised numerous candidates for State and Federal elective office, as well as the Delaware Republican State Committee and several Presidential campaigns. Mr. Boggs served as Delaware Chairman, Lawyers for Bush-Cheney ’04 and was a Republican observer in the 2000 Presidential Election in West Palm Beach, Florida. He currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) and is Vice President for Washington Operations. Mr. Boggs is also a Life Member of the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill. . . .

    Interestingly, the link to JCB III’s profile is dead. The new bio page says nothing about his 2000 election work, nor about his labors to dismantle oversight of the banks via Riegle-Neal. It does say this about the specifics of his work for his corporate clients:

    Represented the #1 home loan lender in the country before Congress and the executive branch with respect to federal mortgage reform legislation and related regulatory matters.
    Represented one of the largest life insurance companies in the U.S. during passage of landmark pension reform legislation.
    Represented major hedge fund before the U.S. Congress and federal financial regulators.
    Provided oversight and investigations counsel to leading direct-access trading company.
    Assisted financial services client to obtain amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
    Advised financial services clients on the regulatory process and compliance with rules promulgated by the U.S. Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Office of Thrift Supervision, Federal Reserve, and other federal agencies.
    Represented developers and affordable housing interests before the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
    Assisted leading developer and provider of information infrastructure technology and solutions to shape and advance federal data security legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
    Assisted defense technology client secure U.S. Department of Defense multiple appropriations for the U.S. Army’s EM Gun Initiative.
    Helped secure Department of Defense funding to develop an advanced portable wireless communications technology to benefit U.S. military and first responders.
    On behalf of health information technology client, secured critical report language authorizing Medication Therapy Management Pilot Programs in both the Veterans Affairs and Labor-HHS Appropriations measures.
    Assisted numerous educational and nonprofit organizations to secure federal appropriations and other government funding to advance their eleemosynary goals.

    Sounds like a lovely fellow, who will fit in well with Bradbury and Flanigan.

  8. Kathleen says:

    Who is Romney trying to please with this move? Romney is the perfect 1950’s Father Knows Best character that I have ever seen. Compassionate conservative…fiscally responsible, economically successful, throws out a few bones to the working care in Mass.

    But now appointing those who supported torture and twisted international agreements. Would Robert Young, Fred McMurray (My Three sons) Alec Betz (Donna Reed’s husband) Ward Cleaver support torture to protect the American illusion. They might.

    What I want to know is how different is Romney from Obama?

  9. NMvoiceofreason says:

    Nice to see the log-in before the move have been migrated.

    Terrible to see that torture goes into the next administration.

    But at least Obama can see that his political calculation – to save the Bush Administration war criminals – was wrong. Too bad he cannot do what is right and prosecute the bastards (and bitch. Don’t forget Rice)

  10. Mary says:

    I guess it depends on what you mean by authorizing torture exactly, but I’d include in that kettle some fish like Ashcroft, Thompson, Goldsmith, Comey, Levin etc. so I think it might be an overly broad brush to tie them all in with Mormonism or Opus Dei or even AIPAC.

    A more common thread would be that they are self-interested, opportunistic, ego-centric, elitist, arrogant pricks.


  11. Peterr says:


    Those descriptors work for me.

    As I wrote of Bradbury, Yoo, and Bybee back in May 2009,

    these high-ranking DOJ attorneys knew the practices their superiors wanted them to justify, and they willfully turned their eyes away from anything that would have prevented them from reaching their pre-determined end result. These are not incompetent lawyers, who somehow wrote a set of very poor legal opinions for the rest of the executive branch to use. These are very careful lawyers who painstakingly tailored their advice so as to enable and endorse torture.


    Bradbury wrote an embarrassingly self-serving memo, five days before the arrival of a new administration, trying to sweep away seven years of efforts to give torture some kind of legal cover by the DOJ, as if to say “Never mind.”

    Being able to channel Emily Litella when needed is clearly a plus in Mitt’s book.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Romney is just mimicking Obama, without the false pretense of his model. Insuring the endurance and growth of the surveillance state is his priority, as well as being a bipartisan consensus.

  13. Mary says:

    @13 ROFL! Why didn’t I think of that? Using the power of the jinx for good?

    OT – but since I’ve been over-focused on Pakistan lately, this AP article caught my eye:

    It looks like the Ambassador to Pakistan pretty much begged the CIA/Panetta to hold off on the drone strike they undertook right after they walked out with Raymond Davis.

    Panetta overrode that request and proceeded to let the CIA vent a bit over Davis – vent, tot he tune of a few dozen dead civilians.

    “Some U.S. officials said Leon Panetta’s decision was driven by a belief that the militants being targeted were too important to pass up, but others suspected that anger at Pakistan for imprisoning Raymond Davis for so long played a role.

    The deadly March 17 attack, which the Pakistanis claim killed 38 civilians, helped send the U.S.-Pakistan relationship into a tailspin from which it has not recovered. ”

    This story floats that illness is the reason that the CIA Station Chief made such an abrupt exit earlier. Anyway, even re: the strike, the CIA argues that it was super-duper important to take out the 4 Taliban it got – important enough that they deliberately elected not to target the vehicle with just the 4, but to wait until they got to the jirga with all the tribal policemen and civilians and take out the whole assemblage.

    IOW and more OT- it doesn’t really matter whether they go by the names of Bradbury and Flanigan or Koh and Panetta – Mittens’ advisors don’t even have the bloodiest hands at the table.

  14. Gitcheegumee says:

    Whta…Viet Dinh wasn’t available? Too busy with les affaires Murdoch ??

    Viet D. Dinh
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy

    Viet D. Dinh (Vietnamese: Đinh Đồng Phụng Việt; born February 22, 1968) is a lawyer and a conservative legal scholar[1] who served as an Assistant Attorney General of the United States from 2001 to 2003, under the presidency of George W. Bush. Born in Saigon,[2] in the former South Vietnam, he was the chief architect of the USA PATRIOT Act.

    Dinh has served as Associate Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Whitewater Committee, as Special Counsel to Senator Pete V. Domenici for the Impeachment Trial of President Bill Clinton.

    Dinh currently serves on or has served on the boards of the News Corporation, The Orchard Enterprises, Inc. (NASDAQ; ORCD), Liberty’s Promise, the American Judicature Society… .He currently resides in Washington, D.C., teaches at Georgetown University Law Center, and is the principal at Bancroft PLLC. In 2006 he joined Kenneth Starr in challenging the constitutionality of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.[3]

    Dinh, along with fellow News Corp. board member, fellow lawyer, and Corporation executive Joel Klein, took over the investigation of the News of the World phone hacking affair and related Corporation issues in July, 2011, from News International UK Chief Executive, Rebekah Brooks. Brooks’ own possible involvement in the phone hacking scandal made her unable to continue as an impartial investigator.[8]

    After 9/11, Dinh conducted a comprehensive review of DOJ priorities, policies and practices, and played a key role in developing the USA PATRIOT Act and revising the Attorney General’s Guidelines, which govern federal law enforcement activities and national security investigations.Dinh is Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. His expertise lies in constitutional law, corporations law, and the law and economics of development.

    Dihn is godfather to one of Lachlan Murdoch’s children, according to Sarah Ellison, former Wall Street Journal reporter and author of the book “War at the Wall Street Journal: Inside the Struggle to Control an American Business Empire,”…

    Dinh was mentioned as a potential nominee to The Supreme Court of the United States in a Republican administration.[10]

  15. Gitcheegumee says:

    C-SPAN – After Words – › Podcasts › Audio – Cached-

    Naomi Klein, author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster … of “The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot” interviewed by Viet Dinh. …

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