Saturday, April 25, 2009

regrets, he's had a few

At least that's what friends say about federal judge and de facto Bush Administration torture defender Jay Bybee.

But the defense is a bit feeble. One guy said, "On the primary memo, that legitimated and defined torture, he just felt it got away from him. What I understand that to mean is, any lawyer, when he or she is writing about something very complicated, very layered, sometimes you can get it all out there and if you're not careful, you end up in a place you never intended to go. I think for someone like Jay, who's a formalist and a textualist, that's a particular danger."

So the words just piled up and before you know it, you're legalizing TORTURE? Pardon my skepticism.

Look, I know it must be tough to be working in a government agency and to know you have the ruler of the country - oh and not just Dick Cheney but also the President - leaning on you to come to a certain conclusion in your work. We saw this with how Cheney and his allies in the Administration leaned on CIA analysts to come up with "links" between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and "proof" that Iraq had an active WMD program. It must have been hard for Bybee and others to resist when Cheney's bigfoot David Addington was pressuring them for some after-the-fact legal findings that the extreme measures being employed against some detainees were legal.

And Jay Bybee may really regret it now. But that's not an excuse. "Just following orders" went out of vogue with the Nuremberg Trials. If this process really went to places where Bybee felt uncomfortable, legally or morally, he should have done the honorable thing and refused to sign the memos.

Or he should have quit.

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