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On the same day that the Telegraph reported that the unreleased pictures at Abu Ghraib include shots of prisoners being raped (something the US government

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Seattle Lawyers Want to Say Bye-Bye to Bybee

bybee.jpg
On the same day that the Telegraph reported that the unreleased pictures at Abu Ghraib include shots of prisoners being raped (something the US government disputes), the Seattle Times put up an op-ed in which a bunch of local lawyers call for the resignation of Jay Bybee, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judge (the 9th circuit covers the West Coast.

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.

Bybee is under investigation by a Spanish court and by the Justice Department, which is reportedly being lobbied by former Bush Administration officials to go easy on Bybee. In what certainly would have made for good political theater, the Senate invited him to explain the memos, and declined to respond.

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.

Resignation doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

 
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