FLASHBACK: Powell’s U.N. Speech On Iraq Took Senate’s Attention Away From Bybee Confirmation Hearings

In a new video titled “The Problem of Jay Bybee,” American News Project’s David Murdoch asks how Bybee could have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate in Feb. 2003 for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge despite authoring memos justifying the legality of torture.

The answer is partly due to the fact that the Senate had no knowledge of Bybee’s role in the Bush administration’s authorization of torture because no secret memos on the subject had yet to be released. “Had the Senate known about these memos, there’s simply no way Bybee ever would have been confirmed as a federal judge to begin with,” Harpers editor Scott Horton noted.

Another reason the Senate let Bybee’s nomination fly through unchallenged was perhaps due to the fact that on the same day as his hearing, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was delivering a speech to the United Nations making the case for invading Iraq. “Bybee was greatly advantaged by an accident,” Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman noted:

ACKERMAN: So almost all the Senators were watching the TV outside the hearing room. All the Democrats were. This was of central importance for the Democratic senators in particular to define their position, one could appreciate why they were watching the tube than questioning Judge Bybee. So there was no critical questioning at all at the hearing room and that does not normally happen.

Indeed, near the conclusion of the February 5, 2003 hearing, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) heaped praise on Bybee: “I don’t know of anybody who has any more qualification or any greater ability in the law than you have and that’s counting some pretty exceptional people.” Watch ANP’s video:

Please join our campaign calling on Congress to begin impeachment hearings against Jay Bybee.


On Special Report tonight, Fox News highlighted ThinkProgress’ campaign calling for the impeachment of Jay Bybee. “Democrats are getting a lot of pressure from left-leaning groups who are after Bybee’s hide,” Fox’s Brian Wilson reported, while flashing an on-screen image of ThinkProgress.


Fox also reported that Jon Summers, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), said that Bybee “has a good reputation in Nevada, where he serves.” Reid’s spokesman added that the Senator “does not believe there should be a rush to judgment.” Watch it: