Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Judge Bybee Defends Torture Analysis

The New York Times reports that Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit issued a statement defending the memos he signed concerning torture while he was employed at the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel as a "good-faith analysis of the law".

Bybee's statement said: “'The central question for lawyers was a narrow one; locate, under the statutory definition, the thin line between harsh treatment of a high-ranking Al Qaeda terrorist that is not torture and harsh treatment that is. I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct.'”

Nonetheless, in thinking about this it is useful to recall the Washington Post story from the other day in which Judge Bybee's friends said he never sought the job at the Office of Legal Counsel. Bybee interviewed with then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales for appointment to a position that would be opening on the 9th Circuit when a judge retired. "The opening was not yet there, however, so Gonzales asked, 'Would you be willing to take a position at the OLC first?'" according to a source in the WP story.

Questions for further consideration:

Do you think the Bush Administration would have advanced Jay Bybee's name for appointment to the Ninth Circuit had the Bybee memos condemned the so-called extreme techniques or if Bybee vigorously opposed the legality of these techniques?

Would an individual's ambition to serve on the United States Court of Appeals, and perhaps then someday be a contender for the Supreme Court, influence his or her level of satisfaction with the quality of the reasoning DOJ offered to support what the Bush Administration wanted to do?

Is "good-faith analysis" sufficient for the United States Department of Justice on the question of torture?

This Wikipedia link will get you to a page on the Bybee Memos and links to the actual documents.