Bybee was one of the Bush Administration's torture rubber-stamps, writing memos that provided legal cover for waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation" techniques. Shortly after writing the memo, he found himself appointed to a lifetime spot on the Court of Appeals. Says the op-ed:
Bybee's torture memo casts substantial doubt on whether he could fairly and impartially uphold fundamental constitutional rights in a case involving an individual's claim of physical abuse at the hands of state or federal law enforcement....His endorsement of these interrogation methods also calls into question his fitness to serve as a federal judge because he has encouraged criminal misconduct and has undermined public confidence in the integrity of the judicial system.
He did, however, issue a statement, saying "The legal question was and is difficult....and the stakes for the country were significant no matter what our opinion. In that context, we gave our best, honest advice, based on our good-faith analysis of the law." Among the legal precedent they might have considered: a Reagan Dept. of Justice prosecution of a Texas sheriff for torturing suspects by waterboarding them.