Bybee Keeps Digging
April 29, 2009, 9:14 am
Filed under: Ian | Tags: ,

One of the dirty little secrets of government is the enormous amount of power 20 and 30 somethings can wield if they hitch their ride to the right wagon.  While they are almost certainly in the minority, there are a number of lawmakers, judges and government officials who lean heavily on their staffers or clerks to effectively make their decisions for them.  So if there was anything that could mitigate Judge Bybee’s decision to approve the use of torture by U.S. officials, it was the possibility that Bybee was merely guilty of gross negligence.  OLC, after all, is an awesomely prestigious office—one that gets it pick of former top law clerks to choose from as line attorneys—so it was entirely possible that Bybee showed up for work, saw that his deputy was a very bright former Supreme Court clerk named John Yoo, and decided simply to autograph whatever memos Yoo put in front of him.

Judge Bybee’s recent defense of the memos, however, in which he admits that “I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct,” is nothing less than a concession that he was actively involved in allowing torture to become U.S. policy.  It makes you wonder what kind of legal advice Bybee is receiving.  If I was potentially on the hook for illegally authorizing the use of torture, I would much rather have potential jurors think that I was simply guilty of gross negligence, than admit that I acted with the specific intent of authorizing the torture methods contained in those memos.


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