ImpeachBybee.org

ImpeachBybee.org Open for what to do and why.

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

The New York Times finally wants somebody impeached and it’s Jay Bybee.

A Spanish judge is seeking an indictment of Jay Bybee.

Jay Bybee’s “legal” memos were thrown out by the Bush administration.

Jay Bybee signed memos authorizing torture.

Jay Bybee is a federal judge with a lifetime appointment.

Lawyers have been held accountable for the crime of pretending to legalize crimes before, see: US v. Joseph Altstoetter.

Any act complicit in torture is a felony under US law.

Every single crime is in the past. “Looking forward” means looking forward to a world in which abuse and criminality cannot be deterred.

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

“I was following orders” is a Nazi excuse. CIA employees are civilians and don’t get orders.

“I was following lawyers’ advice” could permit absolutely anything because there is nothing a lawyer cannot be paid to say is legal.

The advice came after the torture began and the torture was never limited to the approved techniques.

The memo in which Bybee claims to legalize the torture of Abu Zubaydah itself claims only to be valid if certain facts and circumstances are true, which were not.

Secret laws produced as royal decrees are not laws at all, but their drafting can be a crime, and in the case of Bybee’s memos violated the Convention Against Torture.

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

We can restore power to Congress AND begin to deter future abuses through one absolutely necessary action.

Bruce Ackerman made the case very well in a Slate article called “Impeach Jay Bybee: Why should a suspected war criminal serve as a federal judge?” Ackerman wrote:

“Jay Bybee is currently sitting on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. As assistant attorney general in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department, he was responsible for the notorious torture memos that enabled the excesses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and other places. While John Yoo did most of the staff work for Bybee, Yoo was barely 35 years old — and his memos showed it. They not only took extreme positions; they were legally incompetent, failing to consider many of the most obvious counterarguments. Bybee was 49. He was the grown-up, the seasoned jurist. He had been a law professor and had served as associate counsel to President Bush. When he was promoted to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, he became the final judge of legal matters within the executive branch. Yet his opinion on torture was so poorly reasoned that it was repudiated by his very conservative successor, Jack Goldsmith.”

Ackerman points out that when Bybee was confirmed by the Senate, his role in promoting the use of torture and other criminal acts was not known (well, was still denied by some people), and he absurdly claimed the right to keep his work secret. When torture teammate William Haynes was later considered for a similar appointment, the widespread use of torture had become known, and the Senate rejected him. That’s the same Senate, although slightly improved by recent elections, that would have to convict Bybee in an impeachment trial.

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

A lot of Americans have probably never heard of Bybee, but that may help Congress members find the nerve to impeach him. Everyone in the world had heard of Bush and Cheney. And everyone SHOULD hear about Jay Bybee. PBS’s Frontline echoed a common view when it reported (before the latest memo came out, which is even worse):

“The most notorious document among the memos drafted by President Bush’s legal advisers as they analyzed how far the U.S. could go to extract intelligence from those captured in the war on terror is known as the ‘Bybee memo.’ (PDF File) Some call it the ‘torture memo.’ The Aug. 1, 2002, memo, sent from Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee to Alberto R. Gonzales, counsel to the president, parsed the language of a 1994 statute that ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture and made the commitment of torture a crime. To be torture, the memo concluded, physical pain must be ‘equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.’ And inflicting that severe pain, according to the memo, must have been the ‘specific intent’ of the defendant to amount to a violation of the statute.”

That’s the part that some people have heard about. But Frontline goes on to explain:

“This very narrow definition of torture was only one part of the memo, which largely was written by Assistant Attorney General John Yoo. It also asserted that the U.S. ratification of the 1994 torture statute could be considered unconstitutional because it would interfere with the president’s power as commander in chief.”

Just as that memo is called the Bybee memo (there were actually three such “Bybee memos” and one “Yoo memo” that same August day) and Yoo may have played a role, Bybee almost certainly had a hand in various “Yoo memos” as well. Bybee was on the job from November 2001 to March 2003. To get the full picture of how Bybee and Yoo and their colleagues twisted our system of government beyond all recognition requires reviewing a large stack of memos. Fortunately, ProPublica has posted them all in chronological order, including what is known of memos that have not yet been released (but which President Obama could release in accord with his professed policy of openness if he chooses).

Just take a look at the memos officially attributed to Bybee, and consider whether we can maintain any sort of legitimate government without impeaching him, and whether we want him overruling decent honest judges for the next 30 years. Bybee gave President Bush, upon request, “legal opinions” that a president can ignore international laws, that laws do not apply to various groups of people, that a president can kidnap, detain, and ship off to other lands human beings with no due process, and that Congress has no power to interfere with anything a president does.

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

Congress has pretty well accepted that last point. But perhaps it is not too late for Congress to start down a path of rehabilitation by daring to interfere with the actions of a desk-chair war criminal like Jay Bybee.

The Senate Armed Services Committee has already released a report that discusses a number of Bybee’s memos at length, including the two from August 1, 2002, that were known when the report came out. The committee pieces together the story well enough to make clear that these memos were requested as cover by those engaged in crimes, and that the memos were used to justify criminality. When the full Senate tries Bybee following his impeachment, these words from the committee’s report may be of help:

“The other OLC opinion issued on August 1, 2002 is known commonly as the Second Bybee memo. That opinion, which responded to a request from the CIA, addressed the legality of specific interrogation tactics. While the full list of techniques remains classified, a publicly released CIA document indicates that waterboarding was among those analyzed and approved. CIA Director General Michael Hayden stated in public testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on February 5, 2008 that waterboarding was used by the CIA. And Steven Bradbury, the current Assistant Attorney General of the OLC, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on February 14, 2008 that the CIA’s use of waterboarding was ‘adapted from the SERE training program.’

“Before drafting the opinions, Mr. Yoo, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the OLC, had met with Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and David Addington, Counsel to the Vice President, to discuss the subjects he intended to address in the opinions. In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Mr. Yoo refused to say whether or not he ever discussed or received information about SERE techniques as the memos were being drafted. When asked whether he had discussed SERE techniques with Judge Gonzales, Mr. Addington, Mr. Yoo, Mr. Rizzo or other senior administration lawyers, DoD General Counsel Jim Haynes testified that he ‘did discuss SERE techniques with other people in the administration.’ NSC Legal Advisor John Bellinger said that ‘some of the legal analyses of proposed interrogation techniques that were prepared by the Department of Justice… did refer to the psychological effects of resistance training.’

“In fact, Jay Bybee the Assistant Attorney General who signed the two OLC legal opinions said that he saw an assessment of the psychological effects of military resistance training in July 2002 in meetings in his office with John Yoo and two other OLC attorneys. Judge Bybee said that he used that assessment to inform the August 1, 2002 OLC legal opinion that has yet to be publicly released. Judge Bybee also recalled discussing detainee interrogations in a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft and John Yoo in late July 2002, prior to signing the OLC opinions. Mr. Bellinger, the NSC Legal Advisor, said that ‘the NSC’s Principals reviewed CIA’s proposed program on several occasions in 2002 and 2003’ and that he ‘expressed concern that the proposed CIA interrogation techniques comply with applicable U.S. law, including our international obligations.'”

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

UPDATE FROM MALCOLM CHADDOCK:

VFP72 and Individuals For Justice are going to begin shifting our Thurs Accountability and Prosecution demo from the federal building to the Pioneer Courthouse, home of the 9th Circuit Court and across the street from the busiest spot in Downtown, specifically calling for Bybee’s Impeachment and appointment of a special prosecutor etc. We will of course send the online traffic we get as a result to your ImpeachBybee.org site via link on our web page.

Keep up that “extremism”

mjc

Our understanding of Bybee memos got dramatically worse when, on April 16, a new one was released:

On August 1, 2002, then-Assistant Attorney General of the United States Jay Bybee sent an 18-page official memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel to the Acting General Counsel of the CIA John Rizzo. Such memos are treated as laws within our government, not opinions, not theories, not briefings, but laws. They are secret laws, but in many cases there’s not much risk of us ordinary schmucks who don’t know the laws violating them, at least not without also violating public laws that are tougher and more comprehensive. These secret laws tend to consist of permissions to violate the public laws in particular ways. They are crazy laws, because they advise violating the real laws and purport to serve as protection for the claim that the violator did so in “good faith.” Nonetheless, they are as much laws as anything passed by Congress, if not more so, since they do not come with presidential signing statements but at most a snide remark scribbled by Donald Rumsfeld.

The secret law that Bybee sent to Rizzo was unusual in that it was a law for one particular person. It was even more specific than that. It claimed to apply to the treatment of one particular person under an elaborate set of circumstances. If the situation was altered, the law would not apply. The individual who received this personal legislative treatment may not have considered himself a lucky man, since it was 18 pages of descriptions of torture techniques that it would be “legal” to use on him. (Can’t wait to get your own, right?) Curiously, the memo begins by citing the actual, real, normal, public law: “Section 2340A of title 18 of the United States Code.” This is curious because for the following six years both the White House and Congress pretended there was no such law and engaged in an elaborate mating dance designed around the mythical need to create such a law anew. You’ll recall Congress “banning” torture and Bush signing statementing himself the supposed right to torture anyway. All of that was theater. And during all of that theater, the people doing the torturing were concerned that they be protected, down the road, from prosecution for their violations of the actual law.

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

Section 2340A of title 18 of the U.S. Code says this: “Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

And 2340C adds this for the benefit of the people writing the “legal” permissions to violate it: “A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.”

And what is torture? According to 2340 it is “an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control.”

And then there is Section 2441, which prescribes a fine or prison or death to any American who commits or conspires to commit a war crime, including torture or cruel or inhuman treatment. This was the section of law that caused then White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to warn Bush and others that they should deny prisoners in Afghanistan the Geneva Conventions as the best defense of their own necks, advice Obama seems to have taken to heart.

Then there’s the Convention Against Torture which requires criminal prosecution of “an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture” or in “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” And the Geneva Conventions which ban “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture,” as well as “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

Bybee had already written some personal laws for Jose Padilla, one of which included his indictment, trial, conviction, and punishment all personally performed by Bybee in the course of the memo. But this August 1, 2002, memo was a personal law for Abu Zubaydah. And part of the circumstances that made this law “legal” was a ticking time bomb:

“The interrogation team is certain he has additional information that he refuses to divulge. … Zubaydah has become accustomed to a certain level of treatment and displays no signs of willingness to disclose further information. Moreover, your intelligence indicates that there is currently a level of ‘chatter’ equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks.”

So, under these circumstances, it turned out — after Jay Bybee checked with the mountain top and declared his new commandments — that you could legally slam Zubaydah against a wall. Or deprive him of sleep. Or waterboard him. You would need to soften the wall and be careful not to break his neck. You would need to have doctors on hand. You couldn’t keep him from sleeping for any more than 11 days at a time. If you slapped him in the face you should be careful not to poke him in the eye. The precautions and limitations are extensive. But so are the torture techniques and the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatments, which would all seem to be just as degrading even if bruising and death are avoided and therefore the “law” complied with.

However, according to Bybee any torturer would be in the clear legally if they did not “expressly intend to inflict severe pain or suffering.” And this could be done by “honestly believing” that there would not be severe pain or suffering, which you would have to if you believed this memo which asserted as much. An honest belief, Bybee assured the CIA, need not be reasonable. In fact “good faith may be established by, among other things, the reliance on the advice of experts.” In case anyone missed the point, Bybee went on to simply state that people following his torture manual would not have the intent to inflict severe physical pain or suffering.

But here’s where it gets sticky. First, the techniques authorized by this custom-made designer law, and others not authorized, were used BEFORE the law was written as well as after. So the reliance on experts wouldn’t cover everybody, and therefore the group of people that Obama just promised amnesty does not include everybody. Second, according to the account that Zubaydah gave the Red Cross, the guidelines given by Bybee were followed only very loosely, with the alterations tending toward the more forceful and punishing. Third, Zubaydah apparently suffered serious injury, suggesting that he experienced severe physical pain and suffering.

CLICK HERE to ask Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

(In fact he told the Red Cross — and we have no other witnesses since the CIA destroyed the video tapes and isn’t talking: “I was put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds caused severe pain. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to a horizontal position and the same torture carried out with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled without success to breathe. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of
my urine when under stress.”)

If that was indeed severe pain and not just a mild case of bodily collapse, was the expert relied upon not an expert and the advice therefore not a legal shield? Or is this just a case of violating the secret law, in which case is that just a case of violating the public law? Fourth, the ticking time bomb was a crock and we know now that our government obtained more useful information from its victim before torturing him than after. Does that alter the circumstances and therefore eliminate the specially designed law? Or is the bomb still magically ticking away very slowly, year after year, until we develop the patriotic courage to crush Mr. Zubaydah’s testicles and finally learn the truth and save the television actress?

Sadly, Mr. Bybee may be too busy to rush to our rescue or to draft you your own personal torture law at the moment. That’s because, even though his own crazy laws were discarded by Bush’s Justice Department, even though Spain has been trying to indict him, even though he approved sticking Zubaydah in a small box with an insect, slamming him against a wall, and water-torturing him, Jay Bybee is serving as a federal appeals court judge in the Ninth Circuit. If we had a justice system he would be standing trial. If we had a Congress, he would be impeached.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *