Bybee: DOJ Did Not Approve All Forms of Torture
The 283 page transcript (warning: 8.25 megabyte .pdf file) of Judge Jay Bybee's testimony before a Congressional committee last May 26th is now out. From what I've read of it, there are no bombshells but what's at least notable is that Bybee, who still defends his pair of infamous pro-torture memos from 2002, admitted the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel did not sign off on all forms of torture.
Some of the torture included prolonged sensory deprivation, dousing with ice cold water, being hung from ceiling hooks and daily beatings. Many if not all of these methods and more have been used on American citizens (for those of you who may not remember Jose Padilla, one of the biggest patsies since Lee Harvey Oswald.).
This brought to the forefront of my mind several questions that are perhaps rooted in ignorance but at least temporarily sound commonsensical until someone more legally pragmatic than me can shoot them down. Namely:
How can it be up to the DOJ to decide what's legal or not? That's for Congress and the federal judiciary to decide, not attorneys who are supposedly sworn to uphold the existing laws. I realize that attorneys still usually have enough wiggle room in vaguely-worded or irrelevant laws to interpret them but you would think that hanging someone from a ceiling and beating them under any circumstances would be a violation of federal and international law.
And speaking of international law, why did Alberto Gonzales get to ignore the Geneva Conventions (he once infamously referred to them before Congress as "quaint notions") and their explicit bans on torture and to do so with impunity?
Finally, why is Jay Bybee still a judge in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after making this stunning admission that he advanced his torture memos to the OPOTUS as legally sound when the OLC under him refused to sign off on all of this, especially in light of the fact that he's still defending these memos that helped provide the extralegal seedbed from which Bush's and Cheney's torture policies sprang?