OUR BYBEE PROBLEM.

Jeffrey Toobin raises a good point about a key architect of the torture memos, Jay Bybee:

Bybee is generally the forgotten man in torture studies of the Bush era. The best known of the legal architects of the torture regime is John Yoo, who was a deputy to Bybee. For better or worse, Yoo has been a vocal defender of the various torture policies, and he remains outspoken on these issues. But whatever happened to his boss

Today, Bybee is a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 13, 2003—some time before any of the “torture memos” became public. He has never answered questions about them, has never had to defend his conduct, has never endured anywhere near the amount of public scrutiny (and abuse) as Yoo. It is an understatement to say that he has kept a low profile since becoming a judge.

It's dismaying that John Yoo may never face prosecution. But it's far worse that an even more important figure behind the Bush administration's torture regime is not only likely never to stand trial but is a life-tenured federal judge. And, of course, this "forgetting" about Bybee's record didn't just happen: Senate Democrats were asleep at the switch. Bybee somehow managed to get two Democratic votes on the Judiciary Committee, including (disgracefully) Chuck Schumer's, and was confirmed 74-19 although senators had at least some inkling of his role. This was an awful abdication of responsibility, among too many.

--Scott Lemieux

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