Bybee Reportedly Seeking Forum to Explain His Role in the Torture Memos

180px-bybee1While Judge Jay Bybee has declined to speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain his role in the Bush torture program, he is reportedly reaching out to Nevada delegation members to find an alternative forum “to tell his side of the story.” I discussed the story on this segment of Rachel Maddow’s show.

Reps. Dina Titus (D-NV) and Shelley Berkley (D-NV) have said that Bybee has contacted them through intermediaries. I would be interested in who are the intermediaries (described as former Bush officials). The New York Times has called for the impeachment of Bybee as have many lawyers.

Bybee’s tale is, in my view, one of the corruption of blind ambition. Like many conservative lawyers eager for positions in the Administration, he found himself being asked to endorse the very antithesis of the rule of law in order to be advanced as a lawyer. Bybee reportedly went to Washington to seek a nomination to the 9th Circuit. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales sent him to the OLC instead where he was asked to write his infamous torture memos. He was then given the judicial post. I do not know the man. However, the appearance could not be worse. It appears as if he facilitated the torture of other human beings — part of the price for a promotion to the court. Regardless of such alleged motivations, his acts speak loudly to his involvement in a war crime — and his unsuitability for the court.

For the full story, click here.

56 thoughts on “Bybee Reportedly Seeking Forum to Explain His Role in the Torture Memos

  1. This stuff keeps blowing me away. First of all if we committed a war crime and tried to “approach” our Congressperson to “tell our story” we’d be tazed and thrown to the curb. I’m generally not for tazing but I’d make an exception here. Why is this man at large and uncharged? Why is he allowed to have his own emissaries make pleas on his behalf? For gods sakes, our war criminals seem to be in charge of our govt. Let him tell his story by all means, in public, on TV, in front of the judiciary committee, under oath–no immunity. Anything else is just crazy. That these actions are tolerated shows just how corrupt our govt. really is.

    Meanwhile, I will say again that if it’s just innocent bad legal advice that we’re talking about here, why did bushco destroy the many truly legal, legal opinions they received telling them they could not torture?

  2. Yes, seconded.

    Prof. Turley, please extend an invite to Bybee to explain himself here. We’ll be glad to listen to any explanation he has to offer, provided he is willing to answer challenges to his assertions.

    He should be prepared to not only explain but to answer questions because an unchallenged explanation is a statement at best and propaganda at worst. We don’t need more propaganda. We the People want answers, good ones too, not weasel words.

    Personally, I’d love to see Bob, Vince and mespo et al. take the battle to him as much as I’d like him to face my questions.

    I bet he doesn’t have the cajones (or intellect) to do it.

  3. BIL:

    I have often discussed the first rule of the blog: civility. The second rule is you cannot post if you have allegedly committed war crimes. Thankfully, that second one rarely comes up.

  4. Christian Right: Obama Is A Heretic For Observing Day Of Prayer In Private Just Like Most Other Presidents

    President Obama will sign a proclamation recognizing today as a National Day of Prayer (NDP). Notably, the President will not continue former George W. Bush’s practice of holding a “formal White House event.” In response, conservative commentators in recent days have been suggesting that Obama is in some way attempting to downplay the significance of the NDP — and faith in general.

    Limbaugh went so far as to suggest that Obama was trying to “cancel” the NDP, while the National Day of Prayer Task Force issued a statement suggesting that Obama was departing from historical tradition. The task force claimed that Obama’s decision was “contrary to the administrations of President George W. Bush, President George H. W. Bush, and President Ronald Reagan.”

    This morning on Fox and Friends, co-host Steve Doocey echoed the claim that Reagan and George H. W. Bush held events similar to that of George W. Bush. Guest Elisabeth Hasselbeck asserted that public events at the White House on the National Day of Prayer stretched back to President Truman and strangely suggested that Obama’s decision was interfering in Americans’ right to “gather and pray” in public:

    HASSELBECK: This has been a tradition in our country in our country since 1952 with Truman. … I think that we are looking to him today to lead this country and this has been a huge tradition. It has also been one that has been protected in our country through our constitution. We should be able to gather and pray as we see fit.

    In reality, it was Bush who broke with tradition by holding official White House events on the NDP. Indeed, as the National Day of Prayer Task Force spokesperson Brian Toon explained on May 1, “There was no East Room event until George W.” And despite the Task Force’s claim today that Reagan and H. W. Bush were in the habit holding White House events on the NDP, U.S. News and World Report explains that each of them held such events only once during their presidencies.

    Asked by ThinkProgress about the Task Force’s false statements, Rev. Susan Thistlethwaite, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, pointed out that the organization is chaired by Shirley Dobson — wife of the ultraconservative Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. Indeed, the fact that conservatives and the Task Force in particular feel the need to lie about the history and traditions surrounding the NDP suggests that they are less concerned with promoting prayer in America than they are with taking every possible opportunity to “slam Obama” for political gain.

  5. Rosen Defends Article, Backs Off On Sotomayor, Calls Her ‘Able Candidate’

    By Brian Beutler – May 7, 2009, 3:04PM

    As promised, over at The New Republic Jeffrey Rosen has responded to critics of an article he wrote earlier this week calling into question the fitness of appellate court judge Sonia Sotomayor to serve on the Supreme Court.

    Rosen defends all aspects of his piece beyond its title, which he says was assigned without his knowledge by TNR’s editors, and which he regrets. He makes a number of the same points he made to me yesterday when I asked him about the controversy, but adds a few more.

    He writes, “I was satisfied that my sources’s concerns were widely shared when I read Sotomayor’s entry in the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which includes the rating of judges based on the collective opinions of the lawyers who work with them. Usually lawyers provide fairly positive comments.”

    That Almanac entry is here:—sonia-sotomayor.php?page=1

    There are, to be sure, some very negative assessments as well, and Rosen says they vindicate his critique. But a Sotomayor supporter who once clerked on the second circuit for a different judge disputes that interpretation. “I was…shocked by his implication that because prosecutors dislike her it means she isn’t fit — in fact, it should be the reverse,” the source said. “If prosecutors have a low opinion of a judge it’s probably because she challenges them, rather than rubber stamping their allegations as many judges do.”

    As a peculiar footnote to this entire imbroglio, the last paragraph in Rosen’s post contains unexpected sentence: “Sotomayor is an able candidate–at least as able as some of the current Supreme Court justices–and if Obama is convinced she is the best candidate on his short list, he should pick her.”

    Which is rather different, at least in tone, than the conclusion he reached in his original article. “Given the stakes,” Rosen wrote, “the president should obviously satisfy himself that he has a complete picture before taking a gamble.”

    Rosen himself acknowledges that, according to the report, “most of lawyers interviewed said Sotomayor has good legal ability,” and “lawyers said Sotomayor is very active and well-prepared at oral argument.”

  6. I thought the watch word for these guys,when things got a little hot was” I Don’t Recall” will he be the exception to that rule?

  7. Thank you trolls for letting us know your masters aren’t certain they’ll get away with war crimes. I had expected you.

  8. eniobob,

    That’s a great link. Jeremy Scahill has posted about prosecutions. He goes to the relevant passages in the law, things that Mr. Bybee knew well:

    “1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
    2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
    3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.


    Article 4

    1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.”

  9. Article: “While Judge Jay Bybee has declined to speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain his role in the Bush torture program, ”

    Does anyone know if that was that a request or a subpoena?
    Eniobob: link to the Nation mag.

    She’s right! If only we had known it was going to be such a growth industry and reward is architect’s and supporters so well we could have gotten in on the ground floor. Man, I wish they had taken the ‘business’ public, we could have bought stock early and made a few bucks.

    At the very least these people should be shunned by society and business, every time I read about some speaking tour or benefit they accrue I am disgusted. That isn’t even getting close to what I think about Karl Rove being a commentator on FOX. Disgraceful is the mildest word one could use.
    A good examination on the US Torture program is also available:

    It’s the first installment of a 4 part examination. The Writer (from bio:)”Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California State Bar since 1977 and has practiced in the fields of civil litigation and workers’ compensation at both the trial and appellate levels. He graduated cum laude from Southwestern University School of Law where he served as a student director of the clinical studies department…” has guest blogged there before and his articles are always excellent.

  10. “Stanford Anti-War Alumni, Students Call for Condi War Crimes Probe”

    “During the Vietnam War, Stanford students succeeded in banning secret military research from campus. Last weekend, 150 activist alumni and present Stanford students targeted Condoleezza Rice for authorizing torture and misleading Americans into the illegal Iraq War.” more at

    “Marjorie Cohn at Stanford discussing Condi Rice’s War Crimes”

  11. Judge Bybee’s counsel isn’t limited to 18 USC 2340-Torture:

    “On October 23, 2002, Assistant Attorney General Bybee signed a 48-page memo to the “counsel to the president” (Alberto Gonzales) titled “Authority of the President Under Domestic and International Law to Use Military Force Against Iraq.” This was another secret law, but instead of authorizing particular uses of torture (which in reality were far exceeded, engaged in prior to the memos, etc.), this one authorized any president to single-handedly commit what Nuremberg called “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

    An Even Worse Bybee Memo-The Iraq War Memo
    David Swanson, CounterPunch, May 4, 2009

    He’s more of a war crimes generalist.

  12. Jill:
    Thanks for that link I went there,and read some interesting comments,I know you are probably famlliar with the link I am about to post.

    I saw some interesting headlines there and I thought that I would pass this link on.

  13. Prof.

    In Re Rule #2


    I’ll keep that in mind if I should ever declare war on Tonganoxie, KS (or any other situs). Unlike Bush Co., I will abide the law regarding war crimes.

  14. eniobob, I didn’t know that site. Thanks to you and the many others who posted links to sites,

  15. BIL,

    Sure you will. Once you have the power you will become corrupt, corrupt, Corrupt. Don’t you remember anything from the land of OZ.

    Where are my monkeys.

  16. AY,

    Like the man says, “The monkeys are in the mail.” And I think I’d make a wonderful beneficent despot. :D

  17. Why does the Judge have to spend time searching for a forum? As has been mentioned, a Congressional or Senate hearing room under oath is an excellent forum to tell his side of the story. So would the witness stand in a court proceeding charging him with war crimes—again, under oath. He’s more likely trying to get booked on Faux Noise instead of the more appropriate booking room at a police station.

  18. “I have often discussed the first rule of the blog: civility. The second rule is you cannot post if you have allegedly committed war crimes. Thankfully, that second one rarely comes up.”


    Rules. Rules. Everywhere rules.
    Blocking out the scenery. Breaking my mind.
    Do this. Don’t do that. Can you see the rules.

    Come on JT just one exception. I would respectfully question our errant jurist with my usual civility. :)

  19. BIL,

    Say a gipper for me, I have an interview with a Bankruptcy firm tomorrow. Say yeah.

  20. BIL,

    The monkeys just arrived and they are nasty mean sucker. One spit at me and the other tried to claw me. Geeze

  21. Query,

    Since Oreogon is in the Ninth Circuit do you think that Bybee will hear the case if it is appealed with a Federal Question?

    Is Shocking your children with a Dog Collar torture as defined by Bybee?

    You know it could as it entered the stream of commerece.

    Do you think that this man has an expectation of Privacy to Shock his children for fun?

    Isn’t weed legal in Oregon as well?

  22. Report: Pelosi Briefed in 2002 About Enhanced Interrogation Methods

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was briefed in September 2002 on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, according to a report prepared by the Director of National Intelligence’s office and obtained by FOX News.

    The report seems to contradict a statement by Pelosi last month that she was never told that waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques were being used on terrorism suspects.

    The report was submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee and federal officials Wednesday.

    My opinion: the damaging word in this report is “use” meaning she was briefed on the use of waterboarding. We can play word games all day long but this to many will make Pelosi look to be a liar. But, can Pelosi go down any more in the polls than she already is?

  23. Left off the Washington Post Link:

    Posted at 7:29 PM ET, 05/ 7/2009

    CIA Says Pelosi Was Briefed on Use of ‘Enhanced Interrogations’
    By Paul Kane

    Intelligence officials released documents this evening saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was briefed in September 2002 about the use of harsh interrogation tactics against al-Qaeda prisoners, contradicting her repeated statements over the past 18 months that she was never told that these techniques were actually being used.

    In a 10-page memo outlining an almost seven-year history of classified briefings, intelligence officials said that Pelosi and then-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) were the first two members of Congress ever briefed on the interrogation tactics. Then the ranking member and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, respectively, Pelosi and Goss were briefed Sept. 4, 2002, one week before the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    The memo, issued by the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency to Capitol Hill, notes the Pelosi-Goss briefing covered “EITs including the use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah.” EIT is an acronym for enhanced interrogation technique. Zubaydah was one of the earliest valuable al-Qaeda members captured and the first to have the controversial tactic known as water boarding used against him.

    The issue of what Pelosi knew and when she knew it has become a matter of heated debate on Capitol Hill with some accusing her of knowing for many years precisely the techniques CIA agents were using in interrogations, and only protesting the tactics when they became public and liberal antiwar activists protested.

  24. Rut Roh,

    Anyone who has observed Pelosi for more than 10-20 minutes can tell she’s a liar. And if she knew the details of what they were planning (and I think she did), she should have a cell right next to Dick. I have quite a few friends in her district (one of them is even a pollster) and if they are emblematic of how the majority of how her constituency feels about her, she’ll be lucky to be a San Franciso dog catcher after this term.

    This issues of torture and violating the Constitution are not partisan. It’s a criminal matter. Many R’s need to go to prison as primary bad actors (from Dick to Feith), but so do some of the D’s that enabled them. Nancy “Impeachment is off the table” Pelosi and Harry “I can’t do my sworn duty to protect the Constitution because some of my friends will go to prison” Reid are included in that list of enablers.

  25. I just saw your appearance on the Rachel Maddow show, Prof. Turley. As usual, an excellent segment.

  26. Bud,

    Nancy Pelosi is symptomatic of the Democratic party nowadays. Look at the wasted money already in the 800 billion dollar stimulus bill, the 3.5 trillion dollar budget with trillion dollar deficts projected by the CBO for the next 10 years, Murtha, Rangel, Dodd, Frank. The list keeps growing.

    PS. I saw a clip tonight of Barack Obama saying 18 billion of earmarks in the 800 billion stimulus bill “was not a lot of money” then they switched to him saying today how a cut of 17 billion from a 3.5 trillion dollar budget “was a lot of money to cut”.

    I saw this on ABC, not Fox, not on right wing radio; it was on ABC. They also went around to citizens and showed their outrage. I tell you, things are turning fast against the Democrat party. Wait until you release the so called “torture photos”. Military vets and families are going to go ballistic against the people putting the mout. Now closing Guantamano? Nobody but the far far left wants it closed. Gun control? Nobody wants it. The list goes on.

  27. It appears Maddow cost a Lieutenant from West Point his career by convincing him to out himself on her show as a publicity stunt for MSNBC. That was uncalled for.

  28. Bybee needs to be impeached ASAP. As usual the trolls make their appearance when the discussion thread is torture. I agree with AY’s comment that Bybee already made his statement in the memo. The only other time I want to hear from him is under oath in front of a grand jury or a congressional committee. I guess we won’t hear him in front of a grand jury, but it would be nice to televise the secret proceedings.

  29. Ruh Roh,

    Sorry, I mistook you for someone without a partisan agenda but instead you are just another troll. You want to disprove that assertion?

    Let’s not hear anymore about the enablers, but the criminals proper . . . or can’t you pontificate about your bosses illegalities except to excuse them like you just did by lying about “most people” and Gitmo? Care to reconcile that to the polls that show the majority of Americans not only want it closed, but Bush Co. investigated and subject to criminal prosecution for violating the Constitution by turning Gitmo into a torture center in the first place? A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 53 percent of Americans said the United States should close Gitmo. Another poll quoted on every major network showed over 70% of Americans wanted an investigation and/or prosecution for Bush officials for war crimes.

    Care to elaborate on that or are you going to spew more propaganda at an attempt to change the subject by smear and innuendo?

    Didn’t think so.


    Who gives a damn what party the guilty belong to except apologists and propagandists. And I don’t want to hear “it’d be bad and unpopular to prosecute them”. The Nuremberg trials weren’t popular either, but popular and LEGALLY NECESSARY are not always the same. You want some Dems to go to prison? Fine, so do I and anyone else paying attention to who let Bush piss on the law, but your presentation is little more than biased smear intended to obfuscate that the orders to torture came from the top, not the bottom (soldiers) or the middle (everyone between the Pres and the troops). From the top. And any Dems that helped the criminals? They should be charged as accessories at a bare minimum, but that still doesn’t excuse Dick and Monkey Boy wiping themselves on the Constitution.

    Do you want to throw in more weak straw men like the budget (you do realize TARP was Bush’s doing, right?) or gun control (you do know Obama choose NOT to ban assault rifles, right?). The list goes on as you said, just not with the contents you claim. Care to address that?

    Didn’t think so.

    Time for you to move along, little trollsy. Your true colors are exposed as Neocon Red. So take your fake outrage elsewhere unless you just like posting in a place where you’ll be guaranteed to be made the fool.

    And the name is Buddha or BIL, or in the case of Neocon apologists and propagandist, Mr. Your Worst Nightmare.

  30. AY,

    In re the tentative new position.

    I’m sending all the good karma your way that I can muster. I hope it works out for you.

  31. RutRoh, I’ve always enjoyed watching people as they whistle past the graveyard. If you think anyone is concerned about torture investigations dragging down a few Democrats along the way, well, as my mom used to say, you’ve got another think coming. My interest, and the interest of most who share on this site, is in the rule of law, not the rule of political parties. Therefore, cries of “But Johnny did it too” don’t cut anymore mustard now than they did when I was 10.

  32. Rut Roh, I almost forgot. The soldier who appeared on Rachel Maddow’s show wasn’t coerced or fraudulently induced to do anything. He was smart enough to know the consequences of his own decision. In truth, if it weren’t for the fact that politicians feel the need to kowtow to the absurd sensibilities of people like you, the hypocritical “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would never have been adopted. Hopefully, the current president will abolish it once and for all and you and all the other homophobes can crawl into your pathetic holes and draft more secession resolutions.

  33. Mike A.,
    Well said. These trolls take allegations from their Fox News friends and repeat them as if they are gospel. So sad. Instead of calling them trolls, maybe we should call them lemmings.

  34. Finally someone explained that disbarring Bybee from the state bar in Nevada has no effect on him as a federal judge for life.

    And that someone was Jonathan Turley on Rachel tonight.

    His official removal requires impeachment or resignation.

    He can still be a judge in jail after disbarment and conviction until he is impeached.

    But he would not be assigned many cases.

  35. Dredd,

    You are good, sharp even. That was a couple of threads ago. Are you a Troll? If not, I am sorry, in advance for being offensive.

  36. Since this blawg now accepts video, how about those of you in the eastern USA posting the Maddow and Olbermann videos for those of us out west who are 3 hours behind y’all.


  37. Mike Appleton
    1, May 7, 2009 at 9:44 pm
    “RutRoh, I’ve always enjoyed watching people as they whistle past the graveyard. If you think anyone is concerned about torture investigations dragging down a few Democrats along the way, well, as my mom used to say, you’ve got another think coming”

    Amen to that.

    For some of us the fact that some Dems like Speaker Pelosi might get the boot over this would be a high point of persuing a thorough investigation.

  38. You know they say down south, “When ever you have 4 Baptist gathered together you always have a 5th.”

  39. A letter writer to the Salt Lake Tribune opined that if Bybee had written a memo in favor of gay marriage, his LDS (Mormon) church membership would have been toast. However, since he wrote a memo about torture, his membership is apparently not in any jeopardy and he’s also a Cub Scout leader in his ward/stake (Mormon ecclesiastical units).

    Just something to consider.

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