The Alberto Gonzales Defense: Judge Bybee Reportedly Denies That He Wrote Infamous Memo

180px-bybee1225px-alberto_gonzales_-_official_doj_photographAccording to close friends, Judge Jay S. Bybee appears to have adopted the Alberto Gonzalez defense: he is now claiming that he did not write his infamous memo and only signed it. This is similar to the defense that Democrats allowed Gonzales to make on the first torture memo at his confirmation hearing for Attorney General, to wit, he did not read an important policy memo on the commission of a war crime, he just signed it. It is the empty suit defense: I really am not to blame when I sign orders or memos because I just sign things. Bybee has not spoken directly on this matter to the public, but there are now various friends saying that he would like to repudiate the memos and even denies writing the memos.

Bybee’s alleged use of the Gonzales defense at the same time of a dinner for 35 former clerks and friends at a Las Vegas restaurant. While he may have hoped what was said in Vegas stays in Vegas, it did not work out that way. Indeed, it seems that a spontaneous announcement to such a large group was calculated to get out to the wider press and public.

The Washington Post quotes former clerk Tuan Samahon, who said that Bybee used the reunion to defend the legal reasoning behind the memos while saying that he was disappointed by what was done to prisoners, saying that “the spirit of liberty has left the republic.” Hmmm, I wonder how that spirit left the republic when ambitious people like Bybee (who admits that he was campaigning for the judgeship) signed off on a memo defending war crimes based on some of the worst analysis that I have read in a Justice Department memo in my career.

Another friend (and former roommate of Bybee) Steve Guynn recalled that Bybee has told him that he was not responsible for the memo: “I don’t know that he ‘owned it.’ . . . The way he put it was: He was head of the OLC, and it was written, and he was not pleased with it.”

Another friend, University of Nevada law professor Chris Blakesley noted that Bybee indicated that he did sign it but wanted now to repudiate it. That is the account of another friend who insists that “I’ve heard him express regret at the contents of the memo.”

I must confess to be left cold from these accounts. Bybee went to Gonzales to seek the Ninth Circuit judgeship and was asked by Gonzales to serve at the OLC first. He then signed off on a memo endorsing war crimes to Gonzalez’s delight and was later given the judgeship that he sought. Now, he wants to repudiate the grotesque memo that he used to curry favor with Gonzales.

There remains the question of what Bybee lied to Congress in his confirmation hearing, leaving the possibility of impeachment. At a minimum, I agree with Sen. Leahy that Bybee should resign given his role in this infamous program.

For the full story, click here.

51 thoughts on “The Alberto Gonzales Defense: Judge Bybee Reportedly Denies That He Wrote Infamous Memo”

  1. Patty C,

    It is evident that you are a very unhappy person or why would you take the time to insult others like you do. This is an open/free thought blawg site. Take you family battles home to where they belong. Deal with the people that you need to deal with and just realize that sometimes you will never get the answer from them for why they did things the way they did. So as a mature adult, you such it up and get over it. I am sure you can.

    I could take personal jabs but whats the point, I see your weaknesses from a lot of things that you have posted. Why do you get mad when someone disagrees with you, have you met her do you have some personal animus against her?

    Life goes on. You either get caught up in the tide or you learn to swim to shore, sometimes parallel. Which is doing what you have to do to survive.

    So with that Just try and get along. When I read something I do not agree with I try and understand why it offends me so. It is not an insult to my dignity or my worth as a human being. I don’t know these people other than being on here.

    It is not a soap opera, it is a lot of people who have the same ideals and it is just a matter of how we get there.

  2. Stay out of it, AY. Like you said, you just got here…

    BTW, I a proceed under the impression JT appreciates my contributions – gastronomic and otherwise. He is know to us turlees as quite the kitchen wizard/sommelier, himself!

  3. PattyC:

    are you a mental patient using the hospitals computer again? I think it’s time we take our chlorpromazine hydrochloride.

    Rx: chlorpromazine hydrochloride PO QID

  4. Patty C, Jill and all the others that cannot openly play nice together:

    Exchange IM Addresses Email Addresses or some other way to vent your open hostility towards one another. You are not children. I already have tires on my vehicle and I don’t need them to be kicked anymore.

    Get a hint of what has been said in a nice manner thus far. For us, we who are new to this list serve, Blawg, grog what ever you may call it. Take it outside.

    Not much to ask. I am sure the Good Professor would help set up dummy email accounts so that you all can exchange the like ideals without offending the rest of of.

    I don’t particularly care for the recipes on he unless they are out of the anachronistic cookbook. Only Kiddin!!

  5. I just read some of the other cracks from the weekend and
    I am ticked OFF…

  6. That’s it. I am going state this once and then I am

    In ‘fairness’ to seamus,’Esq’, no less, not that he deserves it from me, perhaps if it weren’t for Jill’s flagrant disregard for my many requests to ‘Cool it’ and watch her potty mouth, which he no doubt was mirroring, perhaps he would not otherwise have been disposed to foul the area with exchanges so incredibly disrespectful and juvenile. We may never know, now.

    And don’t you DARE pretend like you don’t what has been going on here with any, and every, guy who’s come along for the past several months, Jill, because there’s plenty more were this comes from:

    seamus 1, February 12, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    After you’ve eaten all of your leather goods, I recommend the paste off the back of your wall paper. Of course this all assumes all of the the cats, dogs, gold fish, clueless squirrels, slow-moving oppossums, and Irish have all ready been eaten.

    After the paste I recommend the bark of a chiccoree tree. Look for grubs under fallen trees. And don’t through out those old cotten cloths, boiled in urine they make a stew that can sustain human life for up to a month.

    Come on America, you bunch of pussies!!! This is just a wee little bump in the road, no need to panick. I found a site that actually explains how to make soilent green. If it’s good enough for Chuck Heston, it’s good enough for me!!

    Keep those buckets full of rain water, pray for smaller government, and that God that George Bush has brought us closer to Rapture. Good night, and go fuck yourself.

    seamus 1, February 12, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    applogeez for all the tipe-o’s

    Jill 1, February 13, 2009 at 8:04 am


    I am not eating my Prada, even the knock-offs. I’m going down with my conspicuous consumption intact. I do have some slow moving neighbors to consider though!

    (Your survivalist tips were wonderful!!!)

  7. FFLEO:

    maybe not, by 1988 you would have been out of a job and would have had to pump gas for a few years or start a new career. I went to Huston in 1988 for a World of Concrete convention (yes I know it sounds terribly exciting, but I did get to meet a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader) and they had PhD’s in geology as bell hops and you could buy a house for about 50k or less in one of the “good” neighborhoods.

    So you were smart to do what you did. Anyway I used to see guys that were 35 look like 50, and they say hardwork never killed anyone, maybe not but it does put some gray on the head.

  8. Bron,

    I worked for a logging and perforating company in the oil/gas patch in the 4-Corners areas of the great southwest. I started out as a roustabout, considered a roughneck position and one as a pumper—job offers; worked loading explosive rounds in downhole well casing perforating guns; and then I turned down an apprentice well logger job—bore depth/stratigraphy—(starting @ $20,000.00) in the mid-1970s. That was the worst financial error I ever made because I later took a starting WG-3 Federal government job instead (ask Mike Spindell about such a choice). However, money is not the measure of a man’s honor, satisfaction, or accomplishment in a career choice, if he is honest with himself.

    “Once there was a thought inside my head
    ‘Fore I reached thirty I’d be dead…
    “I ain’t never growin’ old, if I keep on rollin’ with the flow”

    Charlie Rich 1977 #1 Country; # 101 Pop Charts

  9. seamus,

    You’ve gone and interrupted my vacation, forcing me to not only an unsecure computer, but a Mac with one of those cheesey chicklet keyboards I can’t seem to get the hang of typing on because I fear they’ll break just so I can say . . .


    Who else is going to make me spray decaf all over my monitors back at the house? Sure . . . Bob, mespo, the Mike’s et al are a funny group, but they don’t make me spit coffee.

    My suppliers of monitors and Windex will thank you.

    Do your part to help the economy.

  10. Seamus,

    Please reconsider about not posting. I will embarass you with my next statement, but some of the things you said have been profound.


    I lost that thread you posted on. I was thinking how to respond and can’t find it. If you get this message can you redirect me?


    Mike S.

    I haven’t responded to some the things you call “corrections” because they didn’t seem to be corrections. I’ve been very careful to back up any criticism I have of Obama. Saying that you don’t like what I said because I say too many negative things or because I never liked Obama isn’t something that I can reasonably respond to. If you tell me that the negative thing I said is untrue, and you show me why it’s untrue, then I will agree with you. Whether I like Obama or not is irrelevant. It’s no different than my statements about bushcheney. I don’t like them and neither do you. So neither of our statements can be evaluated on whether we like or dislike any particular political figure. Either the statement about them is accurate or it isn’t. If it is inaccurate, then there should be a retraction of the statement. So far, when I’m reading what you say I haven’t seen a factual refutation of what I said. (I might certainly have missed this.) I have seen you say things such as I know what has happened but I believe in my heart that Obama is a good man and knows what he’s doing and he’s just doing everything for the greater good. That’s an opinion, not a correction of facts. We are never going to agree on that opinion. I did try to lay out arguments as to why I can’t agree with that opinion but basically, it seems like we would just go round and round and never get anywhere so it makes sense to me to drop the enterprise completely.

  11. FFLEO:

    “As a old man who has heard every word possible from jobs in the military, law enforcement, oil field work—one of the most profane places on earth—”

    waht did you do in the oil field? I used to be a roustabout and a roughneck and worked offshore in Alaska and was a surveyor and siesmic survey monkey in the Gulf of Mexico.

  12. I agree with FFLeo. This blog is Professor’s general invitation for us to enter his space and consider his views. I would never use such language in his space and I will not use it here. For one thing it’s disrespectful, if sometimes clever, but more importantly it takes away from the civil discourse we have enjoyed for so long. If it means losing a poster or two, I am willing to pay that price for adult conversation. I have no interest in watching this unique experience descend into some type of guttural cacophony of group name calling. We are all much better than that as our many posts have proven, and I am certain JT has better things to do than referee sandbox disputes and potty-mouth language.

  13. Everyone,

    Why can’t we all just get along. Nothing creates more problems than invidiousness. I know its a contradiction. We all have something worth while to contribute, even I do.

    As Rodney King, stated after he got his 3 million dollars, why can’t we just get along? That is a contradiction even in its own right, don’t you see?

    He either wanted to be left alone to do his drugs and drive, before he got beat. Or he wanted to be left alone after he got the crap beat out of him, because he was in too much pain. Or he wanted to be left alone after the beating was settled for 3 million dollars. or he wanted to be left alone because he had money (then) to do his drugs after he got stopped again. The last time I do not believe he got beat. I may be wrong.

  14. Seamus et al.

    Professor Turley sometimes posts court cases involving profanity as topics and then we comment on those cases. Most reasonable, thinking people are against outright censorship, although most also appreciate decorum in public places unless they specifically and voluntarily go to a place noted for raucous behavior and/or foul language for whatever entertainment value, say for example, a smoky country western bar. Like an ‘ol country song, you just know there is going to be cheatin’, drankin’, swearin’, and cryin’ in the beer when you enter those swangin’ doors of that bar/pub below the flashing, cheesy neon sign. I have not seen such a sign over ‘Turley’s Place’ nor would I enter if I did.

    As a old man who has heard every word possible from jobs in the military, law enforcement, oil field work—one of the most profane places on earth—and when dealing with drunk and drugged modern-day hippies at 2 am in the morning while I ran them out of restricted areas, I am not a prude. However, when I enter the Number 1 Legal Theory and Law Professor Blawg, I do not expect the same profanity that a person would hear in a bar, strip club, or at any one of the thousands of websites that are filled with every profane word found in the Urban Dictionary, and then some.

    Seamus, you do not post very often but when you do, you are mostly funny, sometimes respond to, and provide legal comments. I think we all like most of your comments and I certainly want to read more from you.

    I view this blawg as a place to access legal commentary on current events. If Dick Cheney says as 4-letter word in the halls of government and nothing happens to him, yet some common citizen says a less descriptive ‘cuss’ word and then gets fined and/or goes to jail, then writing the words within this blawg seems appropriate for discussion. However, using profanity left and right to emphasize a point during comments is inappropriate, in my view. After seeing such commentary I think, what if someone who dislikes ‘you liberals here’ were to copy back-to-back profanity-laced posts from this blawg and then posted those on their website to embarrass the “Turlees” (coined by Patty C). Yeah, they could say, some real legal scholars those Turlees are, they cannot express a thought—legal or otherwise—without using sophomoric gutter language that they did not need a J.D. to learn, or did they?

    One thing that has concerned me is that there are professional lawyers besides Professor Turley who post here using their actual names, which are sometimes linked to their own websites/businesses. Having such accomplished, experienced lawyers willing to make the effort and take the time from their full schedules to reply to topics is what makes this site exceptional. Then to have those lawyers’ cogent and legally helpful posts juxtaposed to needless, base, foul language denigrates their efforts and this blawg—guilt by association, if you want to call it that.

    Perhaps I have gone much too far with this rebuttal. However, I consider that I am in Professor Turley’s virtual classroom and I would never shout profanities during his lectures or at my other classmates. To do so is to disrespect him, his profession, and his professorship. Most people reading my comments now have viewed the Hardball video with Pat Buchanan and know how foolish, uncontrolled, and ridiculous a man he really is. The disrespect that Buchanan demonstrated towards Professor Turley is very similar to the way I view excessive profanity used within his blawg.

    Of course, Professor Turley is the ultimate arbitrator of what happens here, although he is only one man doing the important duties of several competent, professional legal scholars. We can help by first respecting him and his site netiquette and then by policing ourselves whenever any of us has a *bad day* and starts to post something excessively inappropriate and too profane. We are guest students or visiting attorneys in Professor Jonathan Turley’s cyber-college and we must afford him the decorum he unequivocally deserves.

  15. Seamus, I must ask that you refrain from the use of the profanity on this site. I appreciate your passion but I would appreciate your scrubbing the language a bit more before posting.

  16. You don’t need to hold back and be polite here, Seamus. Take the gloves off and really let’em know how you feel, laddie …

  17. AnonY wrote:

    “I wish that people could stay germane to the various issues on a subject and not cross over in other words keep the thread a sewin when we come a talkin.”

    That is what this blawg *could* become. I appreciate that attorneys take time to posit here. The junk, nonsensical, irrelevant posts really denigrate the efforts of those legally knowledgeable persons who assist us non-lawyers.

  18. FF LEO,

    If you want to make him work and if enough complaints are filed with the Nevada State Bar or where it is that he is licensed from. They must take some action, I am not saying it will go anywhere. I am just saying that if say 150,000 complaints against the same Licensed attorney they have to take notice.

    The Judicial Misconduct and Disability branch is designed to kind of say ok, nod, nod, wink, wink we understand what you are saying. The judges are there for life unless they are removed by some process or resign. Public Pressure will do a lot. And Bush was attempting to Pack the last “liberal” court, whatever that word means to you.

    It means to me doing the right thing despite what a few special interest groups want. Remember they have an institution to protect. Themselves.

  19. Here is the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals website information on Judicial Misconduct and Disability

    You mentioned Judge Roy Bean and when I first visited the 9ths website–weeks ago before you made that comment–I thought of him when I read how the 9th Circuit refers to its jurisdiction:

    “Federal Courts of the WEST”

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