Lawmakers Question Lawyers' Involvement in Ethics Probe

By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 31, 2009; 8:19 PM

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) expressed alarm Tuesday that Bush administration lawyers allegedly were given an unusual opportunity to shape a report by Justice Department ethics watchdogs probing their conduct.

The senators said they worried that new department leaders and lawmakers would get a watered-down version of a report that had "undergone significant revisions at the behest of the subjects of the investigation."

Last year, the department's Office of Professional Responsibility finished its 4 1/2 -year inquiry of lawyers who blessed harsh interrogations of detainees. But the results of the probe remain under wraps while John C. Yoo and Jay Bybee respond to the findings, according to internal correspondence released yesterday.

The draft report recommended disciplinary measures against both men, who have left government service, sources said. A third former lawyer in the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury, departed in January and already had a chance to comment on the findings.

Parts of the report are classified and may take "substantial time and effort" to review before being released to Congress, acting assistant attorney general M. Faith Burton told the senators.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company