Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union this morning, Center for American Progress Action Fund President and CEO John Podesta called on Congress to commence impeachment hearings against Jay Bybee, should he decide not to voluntarily resign his seat on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Podesta said:
The one thing I disagree with you and David [Gergen] about is I do think there’s a distinction between going back and prosecuting in criminal courts the actors who were involved in these memos and letting Judge Bybee continue to sit on a court one step removed from the Supreme Court. He’s acting and listening to cases, making judgments of others, and we know he authorized things that were illegal under U.S. law and violated the U.S. obligations under international treaties.
If he would do the right thing, he should just simply resign. If he doesn’t, I think this is one matter where he continues to sit — he doesn’t have the moral or legal authority to continue to do that. And I think a simple matter would be to remove him from office.
Podesta added that he suspects the White House doesn’t agree with the call for impeaching Bybee. The other panelists — David Gergen and former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein — disagreed with the call for impeachment. Watch it:
Also, Podesta delivered a letter this morning to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), laying out the case for impeaching Bybee.
The letter (pdf) informed Conyers that ThinkProgress has collected nearly 20,000 signatures from concerned citizens “who have expressed their deep-felt and sincere desire to see that Judge Bybee is held to account for authorizing torture.” Podesta’s letter affixed the names of everyone who signed our petition calling on Congress to begin impeachment hearings against Bybee. (It required 71 three-column double-sided pages.)
Thanks for all your help! This could not have been possible without the support of all of you who signed the petition. If you have not already done so, please consider joining the effort by clicking here.
Read Podesta’s full letter below:
Dear Chairman Conyers,
I am writing to ask you to consider holding impeachment hearings against 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee, should he decide not to voluntarily resign.
As you are well aware, Judge Bybee is the only architect of the Bush administration’s torture program to currently hold public office.
A legal memorandum signed by Judge Bybee when he was the head of the Office of Legal Counsel and recently released by the Obama administration approved the use of cruel, inhuman, and degrading techniques, including waterboarding, slamming a detainee into a wall, depriving a detainee of sleep for up to eleven days at a time, and trapping a prisoner in a “confinement box” with insects in order to induce terror. The techniques endorsed by Judge Bybee’s memoranda violated U.S. law and our commitments under the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
On March 13, 2003, Judge Bybee was confirmed by a 74-19 vote in the Senate. During his Senate hearings, Mr. Bybee stonewalled the Judiciary Committee when asked about his role in national security matters. He said at the time, “As an attorney at the Department of Justice, I am obliged to keep confidential the legal advice that I provide to others in the executive branch.” A number of Senators have now acknowledged that, had they known then what they now know, Judge Bybee would not have been confirmed.
Jay Bybee currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals, one level removed from the U.S. Supreme Court. He has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. Yet, having issued opinions that violate the Constitution and concealed relevant aspects of his legal views and professional conduct from the Senate, Bybee has neither the legal nor moral authority to sit in judgment of others.
My organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, has collected signatures from approximately 20,000 Americans (see attached) who have expressed their deep-felt and sincere desire to see that Judge Bybee is held to account for authorizing torture. It is unacceptable to allow him to continue to serve in his current role. Judge Bybee should resign, but if he fails to do so, I urge you to begin impeachment proceedings against him.
President and CEO, Center for American Progress Action Fund