W hether torture helped lead to the killing of Osama bin Laden or not, the beating of John Yoo's tell-tale heart has compelled him to speak. His preemptive rush, in a recent op-ed article for the Wall Street Journal , to vindicate the Bush administration's torture policies that he and Jay Bybee created betrays his guilt for approving one of the most reprehensible policies in US history — a policy of systematic torture that not only failed to provide actionable intelligence, but undermined the security of the United States. In the infamous torture memos of , Yoo and Bybee, authorised "enhanced interrogation" techniques EITs , acts previously recognised by the US as torture — and the same torture methods used on US soldiers to obtain false confessions during the Korean war. In pages of memos, the two justice department legal counsels redefined torture in a manner that required medical monitoring of all EITs, but failed to provide any meaningful provisions to detect medical evidence of torture as defined by them.
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Though the mild-mannered lawyer has attracted little public attention, as a top Justice Department official he approved an array of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" against alleged al-Qaeda members that many observers call torture.
They include forcing prisoners to stay awake for a week or more, waterboarding them and trapping them with an insect to exploit their fear of bugs. Now a federal judge, Bybee, 55, led the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from November to March and signed off on a memo, recently released by the Obama Administration, authorizing the rough stuff in clinical detail. Along with his deputy John Yoo, Bybee infamously claimed that interrogation practices aren't legally torture unless they inflict pain resembling that of "serious physical injury" such as organ failure or death.
While supporters say the policies helped keep the country safe in the wake of Sept. See pictures of the aftershocks of Abu Ghraib. Though Bybee wasn't the only person responsible for crafting the Bush administration's interrogation policy, unlike his erstwhile colleagues he continues to hold public office, sitting on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He now faces calls for impeachment from Sen. The Justice Department has distanced itself from much of Bybee's work and is reportedly preparing a scathing internal report that could call for him and others to be reprimanded or even disbarred.
Associates say Bybee was working under intense pressure and isn't proud of his controversial work. As a friend told the Washington Post , "I've heard him express regret that the memo was misused. Met his wife, a high school teacher, at a screening of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" at the National Archives. They have four children. Some Democrats now say they would have blocked his confirmation if they had known about the interrogation memos. There's a difference between the theoretical discussion of the law and its practice.
I take very seriously the fact that I have people's economic interests, liberty, and very lives in my hands. Meridian magazine, a Mormon publication, in The technique was not used. In light of these facts, why does Bybee remain on the federal bench? Bybee had told the truth, he never would have been confirmed. Washington Post, April 25, If you wanted to compare him to a personality, it would not be Donald Rumsfeld. He would be quieter, more reflective, quite temperate.
New York Times, June 24, George Meridian magazine, See TIME's pictures of the week.
Jay Bybee: The Man Behind Waterboarding
Administration officials responded by releasing hundreds of pages of previously classified documents related to the development of a policy on detainees. Additional documents were released in December and January by the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a civil lawsuit seeking to discover the extent of abuse of prisoners by the military. Those papers are posted at aclu. Yoo , a University of California law professor who was serving in the department, provided arguments to keep United States officials from being charged with war crimes for the way prisoners were detained and interrogated.
Our journey toward Abu Ghraib began in earnest with a single document -- written and signed without the knowledge of the American people. On February 7, -- ten years ago to the day, tomorrow -- President George W. This was the day, a milestone on the road to Abu Ghraib : that marked our descent into torture -- the day, many would still say, that we lost part of our soul. Drafted by men like John Yoo , and pushed along by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales , the February 7 memo was sent to all of the key players of the Bush Administration involved in the early days of the War on Terror. All the architects and functionaries who would play a role in one of the darker moments in American legal history were in on it.
They advised the Central Intelligence Agency , the United States Department of Defense , and the President on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques : mental and physical torment and coercion such as prolonged sleep deprivation , binding in stress positions , and waterboarding , and stated that such acts, widely regarded as torture, might be legally permissible under an expansive interpretation of presidential authority during the " War on Terror ". Following accounts of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, one of the memos was leaked to the press in June Jack Goldsmith , then head of the Office of Legal Counsel , had already withdrawn the Yoo memos and advised agencies not to rely on them. After Goldsmith was forced to resign because of his objections, Attorney General Ashcroft issued a one paragraph opinion re-authorizing the use of torture. In May , the CIA requested new legal opinions about the interrogation techniques it was using. Bradbury , ruling on the legality of the authorized techniques if agents followed certain constraints.