In his op-ed on the OPR report that we just told you about, John Yoo also appears to claim ignorance on the subject of those missing emails, and accuses the Senate Judiciary committee chair of “chasing his own tail to feed left-wing conspiracy theories.” But Yoo’s bravado raises as many questions as it answers.
As we’ve detailed, OPR wrote that its probe was “hampered” by the fact that it didn’t have access to many of Yoo’s emails, and was told that they were missing and unrecoverable. Numerous observers, including the National Archives and Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), the Judiciary committee chair, have expressed concern about that omission, and asked for more information on what happened to the emails.
Thumbing his nose at Leahy, Yoo writes:
In fact, the investigation is the gift that keeps on giving. On Friday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) excoriated Margolis’ superior officer because OPR claimed it could not access 2002 e-mails from me and another Justice Department official who worked on the memos. Leahy’s outrage displays how little he and OPR understand the basics of intelligence.
The Justice Department’s e-mail system is unclassified and could not be used to discuss interrogation methods, which were classified at the highest levels of secrecy. Nor do I have any idea why OPR now asserts that the e-mails, which were sought years after I had left the government, have gone missing. During my interviews, OPR lawyers showed me several printouts of my e-mails. If they need more they should look in the files of the other lawyers on the network. The suggestion of a cover-up is just Leahy chasing his own tail to feed left-wing conspiracy theories.
Last week, Miguel Estrada, Yoo’s lawyer, told us, via email: “No reason why [Yoo] would know about whether they are missing or why, since he was long gone (by several years) when OPR investigated the matter. So there is no statement he can make about it.”
It’s unclear whether OPR had asked Yoo only for his Justice Department emails, or for any emails concerning his work on the memos.
But given that Yoo’s memos were quickly withdrawn, and were described as “slovenly” even by Michael Mukasey, it shows some chutzpah for Yoo to deride Leahy and OPR for failing to understand “the basics of intelligence.”
A Justice Department witness told Leahy last week that the department will look into the issue of the missing emails. And the National Archives gave DOJ 30 days to respond to a request for information on what happened to the emails.