Jay Bybee has been a federal judge in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Las Vegas for 6 years. He was little noticed until the release of a memo written by Bybee when he was head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The memo gave protection to what the Bush administration called harsh interrogation and what others call torture. Liberal groups have called for Bybee’s impeachment.
The techniques excused by Bybee included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, beatings, and confinement in small boxes. In 2002, Bybee advised the Central Intelligence Agendy that they could use the tactics against Abu Zubaydah, a leader of al-Qaida. Bybee said that the techniques were not torture, because there was “no intent to cause severe pain or suffering.”
Original DVD cover.
Other lawyers who wrote similar memos–including John Yoo and Steven Bradbury–were subjects of a report by the Justice Department’s ethics office.
Congressman Jerry Nadler, D-NY, is a member of the House Judiciary Department and favors impeachment. He said that Bybee wrote “an instruction manual on how to break the law.”
Head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, D-VT, said that Bybee should resign. He and Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, did not comment on impeachment.
Senator John Ensign, R-NV, said it was outrageous to remove Bybee. Impeachment requires a majority vote in the House and a 2/3 vote in the Senate.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said President Obama is focusing on his agenda, and the memos should be cause for reflection, not retribution.
(NOTE: This post was edited to delete any traces of a story from the San Jose Mercury News. The reason can be found here.)