Last week, President Obama released four Bush-era legal memos authorizing torture. The earliest one, from 2002, was signed by Jay Bybee, then an Assistant Attorney General and now a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the memo, Bybee authorized CIA interrogators to, among other techniques:
— Slam a detainee’s head against a wall: “any pain experienced is not of the intensity associated with serious physical injury.”
— Slap a detainee’s face: “The facial slap does not produce pain that is difficult to endure.”
— Place a detainee into stress positions: “They simply involve forcing the subject to remain in uncomfortable positions.”
— Waterboard a detainee: “The waterboard…inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever.”
These techniques are illegal by U.S. statute and international treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory. Bybee attempted to give legal cover to illegal acts, and thus broke the ethical, professional, and legal standards that should govern lawyers. For this, Judge Jay Bybee should be impeached. Congress needs to assert some accountability for these heinous acts.
ThinkProgress is sending a petition to the members of the House Judiciary Committee — where impeachment articles are drawn — imploring them to act now to remove Bybee from public office. Please join our efforts by signing onto our campaign. Here’s how it could work:
Step One: Hearings. The House Judiciary Committee holds hearings to examine charges against Bybee.
Step Two: Articles of Impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee draws up the articles of impeachment and presents them to the full House with a simple majority vote.
Step Three: Passes the House. The full House moves to impeach Bybee with a simple majority, and then passes a resolution notifying the Senate
Step Four: Moves to the Senate. The Senate passes a resolution indicating its readiness to receive the House “managers” — in effect, the prosecutors — and to hear the full articles of impeachment.
Step Five: Trial. 51 Senators must vote to continue with the impeachment trial, and 67, a full two-thirds majority, are required to convict.
An impeachment hearing would require full answers from Bybee — and would give the American people the answers they deserve. When Bush nominated Bybee in 2003, Congress had no knowledge of the full scope of Bybee’s legalese somersaults to make torture appear legal. When asked, he refused to comment, citing executive privilege. Now we know how integral Bybee was to initiating Bush’s years-long torture program.
Today, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), a senior member on the House Judiciary Committee, endorsed impeaching Bybee. “He ought to be impeached,” Nadler told the Huffington Post. “It was not an honest legal memo. It was an instruction manual on how to break the law.”
Jay Bybee has neither the legal nor the moral authority to sit in judgment of others. Please sign our petition.
Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) renewed his call for full investigations into Bush’s torture policies today: “It is simply obvious that, if there is no accountability when wrongdoing is exposed, future violations will not be deterred.”