Legal Ethics

Gonzales Axed Anti-Torture DOJ Lawyer, But Promised US Attorney Job, ABC Says

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In Congressional testimony that helps connect two controversial legal issues in the Bush administration, a former high-level Justice Department lawyer says he was asked to leave after he wrote a memo opposing harsh interrogation techniques he considered torture but was promised a job as a U.S. Attorney by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Daniel Levin confirmed in testimony yesterday that he was asked in 2005 to leave his DOJ job as the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel after he opposed harsh interrogation techniques in a 2004. Although he didn’t draw a direct parallel between the memo and the request to step down, others did, reports ABC News, relying on unnamed sources.

Meanwhile, sources say Levin was told by Gonzales that he would appoint him to a U.S. Attorney position, once the dust settled, to sweeten the downward departure to a position the ex-AG found for him at the National Security Council. Although Gonzales reportedly made a preliminary move or two to get Levin a job as a U.S. Attorney, that never happened and Levin later left to return to private practice.

“Levin, a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School, was seen by some in the administration as too independent, sources said. For example, while analyzing specific interrogation techniques, he went to a military base outside Washington and personally underwent waterboarding, which he concluded qualified as torture, unless done in a narrow way with close supervision,” the ABC News article recounts.

Related coverage: “CIA Lawyer’s Torture Definition: ‘If the Detainee Dies, You’re Doing It Wrong’”

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