Monday, April 20, 2009

Impeach Bybee

One of the authors of the OLC memos laying down the legal justification for torture was Jay Bybee, who is now on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was confirmed by the Senate long before anyone had any idea that he had written these memos.

A movement has been building to impeach him. Jerrold Nadler, a Representative from New York (and my old Congressman), is one of the people leading the charge. Good for him. I strongly support this. Nadler is in a position to do something about this. He is chair of the Judiciary Committee's Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee. This is one of those moments that I am supremely thankful that the Democrats control Congress. It is also one of those moments that I am thankful that there are Democrats in Congress who are willing to disagree with the Obama administration on this. Daily Kos has, as usual, an excellent post about this, including what is being done at the grassroots level in California.

I do not know whether or not Jay Bybee should be removed from office, because he is innocent until proven guilty. I am not in a position to pass that judgment. But I believe that Congress has an obligation to investigate this issue to the fullest extent possible. The NY Times agrees with me:

After eight years without transparency or accountability, Mr. Obama promised the American people both. His decision to release these memos was another sign of his commitment to transparency. We are waiting to see an equal commitment to accountability.
One of the best things that an impeachment will provide is an opportunity to force legislators to make their positions clear: do you or do you not support the use of torture? I sincerely welcome that debate and that opportunity. There are many good Republicans and conservatives who oppose the use of torture. It needs to be made clear who in the GOP stands where on this issue, so that those who believe in the humane treatment of prisoners can separate themselves from those who believe in vengeance and despicable, unnecessary violence as a legitimate purpose of the government.

Impeach Bybee. It is the very least we can do.

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