April 29, 2009

Bybee Defends Signing of Interrogation Memos

Amid recent reports that he regretted signing the interrogation memos, Judge Jay Bybee has released a statement standing by his previous decisions.  The New York Times has the report.

 “The central question for lawyers was a narrow one; locate, under the statutory definition, the thin line between harsh treatment of a high-ranking Al Qaeda terrorist that is not torture and harsh treatment that is. I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct.”

Other administration lawyers agreed with those conclusions, Judge Bybee said.

“The legal question was and is difficult,” he said. “And the stakes for the country were significant no matter what our opinion. In that context, we gave our best, honest advice, based on our good-faith analysis of the law.”

This will certainly enrage the left even further.  The Times has already called for his impeachment so this statement just throws gasoline on the fire.  The call has been to go after Bybee and the other lawyers that wrote the opinion, but I have yet to hear how they plan to prosecute the lawyers who merely gave advice without prosecuting the people who actually approved and performed the enhanced interrogations.  I mean prosecutorial discretion provides pretty broad leeway, but this just seems beyond the pale.  Also, any investigation is likely to implicate Nancy Pelosi's role in approving such measures in 2002, which I am sure the Democratic party would like to avoid.  Additionally, with Cheney requesting a full release of the results of the enhanced interrogation techniques and now Bybee standing by his decision I suspect the Obama administration is ready for this headache to go away.  He has said it is up to Eric Holder to determine whether prosecution is warranted, and with a new CBS/NYT poll showing that 51% oppose an investigation I suspect it will quietly go away.  

Most importantly, this is a prime example of what happens when one attempts to play politics with national security.  To say that it turns into a cluster fark is starting to seem like an understatement.

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