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It's been weeks since President Barack Obama slammed the door on prosecuting CIA operatives who tortured terrorist suspects in secret locations overseas and left it up to his attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., to decide whether to press criminal charges against the government lawyers who wrote the absurd legal memos saying war crimes are OK. Now reports have surfaced that an internal Justice Department inquiry has determined the lawyers shouldn't be prosecuted either, despite the evident incompetence of their handiwork, and Mr. Holder is likely to accede in that judgment.

But the Justice Department finding reportedly didn't rule out asking state bar associations to consider disciplinary action against the authors of the memos. One of them, Jay S. Bybee, was rewarded for his diligence as an enabler of the Bush administration's torture policy with a federal judgeship on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. His subordinate, John Yoo, is now a law professor at the University of California Berkley. Having so gleefully trashed the Constitution and international law to curry political favor, neither deserves to occupy positions of such power and prestige.

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Judge Bybee deliberately concealed his involvement in drafting the torture memos during his Senate confirmation hearings. At the very least, he should be called to account for that omission, even if lawmakers have to impeach him to get the whole story. And having demonstrated such egregious contempt for the law, Mr. Yoo, a garden variety right-wing ideologue, really has no business instructing future jurists how to uphold it. He should be disbarred and never allowed to practice again.

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