Do the 'Torture Lawyers' Have Guilty Minds?: A Response to Jens Ohlin
John T. Parry
Lewis & Clark Law School
May 1, 2010
Harvard International Law Journal Online, Vol. 51, p. 23, 2010
Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-16
In this paper, written for the Harvard International Law Journal Online, I respond to Jens Ohlin's important article, "The Torture Lawyers," which provides a forceful argument for the accomplice liability of Office of Legal Counsel attorneys who wrote legal opinions that facilitated coercive interrogation, including torture. The thrust of my response is to question the version of accomplice liability that Ohlin uses and to suggest that federal government lawyers who wrote opinions on the legality of coercive interrogation may have a viable mens rea failure of proof defense to criminal charges that are based on being accomplices to torture. I also suggest that the availability of such a defense is a direct consequence of the U.S. Senate's decision to require specific intent for the crime of torture, and I propose amending federal law to lower the mens rea to knowledge or general intent.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 1, 2010 ; Last revised: November 16, 2010
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