OPR investigators focused on whether the memo's authors deliberately slanted their legal advice to provide the White House with the conclusions it wantedWould this be any surprise at all? I thought lawyers were supposed to act in the best interest of their clients. Here's what I'm guessing happened.
The president goes to the OLC and tells them about his plans for using questionable interrogation tactics, and of the need to use waterboarding on a few high level Al Qaeda prisoners. He tells them he wants to operate within the law, and asks them to come up with a legal finding that will protect the administration from charges of illegality. And he emphasizes the critical necessity of taking these measures in the aftermath of 9/11. John Yoo and others come up with a legal theory that supports the president's position. It boils down to this: torture is difficult to define and the techniques being used are not actually torture, they are merely "enhanced" or "coercive" interrogation methods. Therefore the administration actions are within the law. Legal problem solved.
Let's assume that's what happened. My response is a big, so what? That's what lawyers do. They find loopholes and interpretations to protect their clients. Even if you disagree with it, their interpretation is not unreasonable. Torture is difficult to define, and people strongly disagree on whether or not the specific techniques under consideration constitute torture. In my opinion, the only way the OLC lawyers acted unethically is if they themselves felt that the Bush administration actions would be illegal, and then, instead of resigning in protest, caved in and crafted a pliant legal argument that went against their own beliefs about the law. I'm not sure how anyone is going to prove that -- unless it is clear from their writings or other recorded statements.