Today on CNN, and in a letter to John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, CAPAF President and CEO John Conyers called for the impeachment of Jay Bybee:
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.
The full text of the letter will go below the fold. But it’s worth observing that while removing Bybee from office would be a serious and important statement of principle about the wrongness of his actions, it’s also hardly the most terrible punishment in the world. Lots of people get along in life just fine without enjoying lifetime appointments to the federal bench. So for those full of Broderish concern that we not be unduly vengeful and vindictive, it’s not like anything that would shock the conscience is being contemplated for Bybee. We’d just be saying that people who have a record of failing to discharge their duty to the law and to the constitution can’t be judges.
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