Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Torture Judge Must Be Impeached!

by Al Falafel

From The Center for Constitutional Rights:

On April 19, 2009, President Obama released four formerly secret torture authorization memos written by the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration. Among other things, these memos justified waterboarding and torture, laying out with chilling detail the methods to be used in torturing CIA prisoners. One of the principal authors of these memos was Jay Bybee, the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel and today a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Bybee must be impeached, as a first step in holding those responsible for torture accountable for their actions.

Bybee's memo was written to provide legal cover and attempted justification for torture approved at the highest levels of the Bush administration. It attempts to give a legal veneer to the most brutal of illegal actions, violating U.S. and international law and the U.S. Constitution [The formerly classified Memo is available here].

Along with justifications for facial "insult" slapping and the use of insects in a confinement box to torture prisoners, Bybee produced a lengthy pseudo-legal justification for the illegal practice of torture through waterboarding: "Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat 'suffering' as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe suffering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering."

It is utterly unacceptable for an individual who produced transparent attempts to justify illegality using the framework of a legal memorandum, and who abused his status as a government lawyer to conspire with other high level government officials to violate the law, to sit as a federal judge, hearing and deciding on issues of supreme constitutional import.

Jay Bybee’s actions in crafting the torture memo constitute High Crimes and Misdemeanors by any standard. Such an individual only brings disrepute to the federal bench and shows a flagrant disregard for the very Constitution he is sworn to uphold.

On Sunday, The New York Times called for Bybee’s impeachment in its staff editorial. The Judiciary Committee must urgently hold a hearing to determine if grounds for impeaching Bybee exist and begin the process of holding those responsible for torture accountable.

Now is the time! The torture memo writers must be held accountable. Jay Bybee is unfit to serve as a federal judge. Write to the House Judiciary Committee to call for hearings regarding impeaching Bybee now.

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