The Washington Post reported over the weekend that anonymous friends of Judge Jay Bybee said that he had been apologetic for authoring Bush-era memos that legally justified torture. However, The New York Times reports today that Bybee contradicted the Post’s report. “I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct,” Bybee said. NPR’s Fresh Air interviewed international lawyer Philippe Sands and asked him to respond to Bybee’s most recent defense. Sands said that the American federal courts, where Bybee currently sits, “are immensely respected institutions” internationally and that Bybee should resign to preserve their credibility:
SANDS: I think the braver and more honorable thing to do would have been to recognize that he fell into error and I have to say, reading that [New York Times] interview, for the first time I felt really very strongly that this is not a gentleman who really ought to be sitting on the bench of a U.S. federal court.
I mean, sitting here in London, I have to tell you; U.S. federal courts are immensely respected institutions. It’s not a political thing it’s not a left, right thing. These are hugely important courts that our English courts look to, that foreign courts look to and the idea that a lawyer who signed off on waterbording and still thinks today that it is not torture should sit on such a court is frankly distressing and I would say even shocking.
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