Memo To Jay Bybee: We Don’t Remember George Wallace For Recanting

File this under legacy maintenance.

Five years along in his new life as a federal judge, Bybee gathered the lawyers and their dates for a reunion, telling them he was proud of the legal work they had together produced.

And then, according to two of his guests, Bybee added that he wished he could say the same about his previous position.

[…] “I’ve heard him express regret at the contents of the memo,” said a fellow legal scholar and longtime friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity…

Wait. Strike that post title. Comparing this indirect, self-pitying mea culpa to George Wallace is an insult to George Wallace. When Wallace changed his mind he publicly apologized. Wallace dedicated his last term of governor to correcting his earlier mistakes. Unless Bybee plans to dish more thoroughly in the future, this Friday night bombshell deserves to be filed with other empty political non-apology apologies.

Let’s start with the last line above. Bybee “express[es] regret at the contents of the memo.” The contents of the memo should reflect Bybee’s thinking. Does that imply that he regrets what he was thinking at the time? The comment makes more sense if Bybee regrets letting someone else dictate the contents of the memo to him. That is a moment of professional weakness that a sensible person would regret. Naturally that would indict Bybee (for legal malpractice, among other things) rather than exonerate him, but John Amato has hints that this might be the case. Otherwise Bybee should explain what about his inner thought process he finds regrettable.

You might wonder whether Bybee’s non-apology could get any weaker. Oh yes it can.

Says the same friend,

“I’ve heard him express regret that the memo was misused.”

Every interrogator in the US government looked to Bybee’s memo for guidance on what they could and couldn’t do to helpless prisoners. It is not clear how such a document could be misused. If the US grabbed an innocent muslim off the street, locked him in a box with spiders, starved him, froze him, beat his head against walls, shackled him to the ceiling and left him standing for more than a week without sleep then Bybee’s little note would serve exactly the purpose for which it was written.

Nobody with the brains to earn a law degree* could possibly believe that a binding legal opinion authorizing torture by government interrogators would not lead to torture by government interrogators. Bybee feels legitimately anxious because the act of writing his memo, whose legal impact guaranteed abuses that followed it, was perhaps the greatest crime of all.

Maybe Bybee regrets the agents who went farther than his torture guidelines allowed, but that doesn’t make sense either. Those interrogators did not ‘abuse’ the memos; they exceeded their legal guidelines. Ashcroft or Gonzales could have prosecuted them if either of the two did not use their soul to store oily rags. I am not even sure how a series of memos that permissive could be abused. Did they waterboard Jane Harman?

If Jay Bybee regrets what he authorized then he can cooperate with the investigations to come. Until then I will cry a little tear for how uncomfortable he must feel at cocktail parties. I bet it feels like torture.

(*) Regent grads excepted.

145 replies
  1. 1
    robertdsc says:

    Arnold Schwarznegger had a great line at the end of his movie Raw Deal:

    Resign or be prosecuted. Any way you want it.

    That applies here, I think.

  2. 2
    GregB says:

    See how they run.

    -G

  3. 3
    passerby says:

    Looks like Bybee’s political/professional ambitions are now biting him in the ass.

    Here’s the smoking gun from that WaPo article:

    Bybee’s friends said he never sought the job at the Office of Legal Counsel. The reason he went back to Washington, Guynn said, was to interview with then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales for a slot that would be opening on the 9th Circuit when a judge retired. The opening was not yet there, however, so Gonzales asked, “Would you be willing to take a position at the OLC first?” Guynn said.

    Bybee was after a judge seat on the 9th circuit. Looks like in order to nail that position down, he had to jump through some hoops at the OLC first. An unfortunate quid pro quo.

    Alas, Icarus.

  4. 4
    Buzzybill says:

    While I love this line “Nobody with the brains to earn a law degree could possibly believe …”, I think it may be that the smarter you are, the easier it is to convince yourself you honestly believe some really creepy shit.

  5. 5
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Gee, I hope poor old Judge Bybee isn’t in danger of losing his social status. He might have to, gasp, live in a non-gated community. With the commoners.
    I wonder, how much will he be willing to talk if he is threatened with impeachment? Will he spill his guts to stay out of jail? Is he willing to take a hit for Dick Fucking Cheney?

  6. 6
    Margarita says:

    how uncomfortable he must feel at cocktail parties

    It’s not inconceivable that I might meet this guy at a cocktail party. I’ve sometimes wondered what the best way to react to being introduced to someone despicable would be. I think just making eye contact and wordlessly moving along is the actual etiquette. Throwing my drink in his face is straight out, of course, though it would be somewhat poetic. Being merely a Controlled Acute Episode, he could hardly be heard to complain.

  7. 7
    JGabriel says:

    Tim F. @ Top:

    If Jay Bybee regrets what he authorized then he can cooperate with the investigations to come.

    Actually, that’s what he should do second. If he truly regrets what he authorized, the first thing he should do is resign his judgeship with a public letter explicitly stating his reasons for doing so and apologizing – not just “expressing regret”.

    .

  8. 8
    Persia says:

    @Margarita: I do believe Miss Manners advises the ‘cut direct,’ although I’m not sure she ever covered it under the realm of war criminals.

  9. 9
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Don’t worry, Bybee will get what’s coming to him – or not:

    Asked about whether or not Reid believes Bybee should be impeached for his participation in providing the legal framework for the use of techniques such as waterboarding during interrogations of detainees, a spokesman for Reid hedged, writing in an email: “Judge Bybee has a good professional reputation in Nevada… While the memos that have been released are disturbing to Sen. Reid, at this point in time, he doesn’t think we should be making a rush to judgment. The Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing this matter and he will wait to see what they have to say before making a decision.”

    The fact that Herry Reid sponsored Bybee’s appointment to the 9th Circuit, and the he and Bybee are co-religionists may explain Senator Reid’s caution. Or it could just be the same old Hopeless Harry Reid.
    Fortunately, impeachments originate in the House. If Bybee were to be impeached, Reid would only conduct his trial in the Senate.

  10. 10
    El Cid says:

    The all-purpose apology of the powerful:

    “I deeply regret that any of my actions have in any way proven troublesome to me, and I would hope that any who have found themselves offended or hurt by my words or actions will take this statement as my most genuine expression of my wish for this inconvenience to me to be considered as a regrettable misinterpretation of my words or actions.”

  11. 11
    blogenfreude says:

    @robertdsc:
    Resign or be prosecuted.

    No. Resign AND be prosecuted. His job is not enough. There are people who have been scarred for life or even killed because of what these monsters did.

  12. 12
    Garrigus Carraig says:

    OT: Arrest in Oklahoma teabagger twitter threat.

  13. 13
    kay says:

    I think he’s ashamed and embarrassed it came out, because it’s a shoddy piece of work, which makes it look like a quid pro quo for the seat on the court.

    The most damning part of this whole article is where his colleague expresses surprise at this piece of crap Bybee cobbled together, because, we’re told, Bybee is a “textualist”.

    Go read the memo he drafted, and then look at the plain language of the statute.

  14. 14
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Margarita: I always like to open with: “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”

  15. 15
    omen says:

    nicely played, tim. (golf clap)

    hegemon points to bybee’s counterpart at nuremberg.

  16. 16
    gwangung says:

    If the US grabbed an innocent muslim off the street, locked him in a box with spiders, starved him, froze him, beat his head against walls, shackled him to the ceiling and left him standing for more than a week without sleep then Bybee’s little note would serve exactly the purpose for which it was written.

    What do you mean “if”? This has happened.

  17. 17
    Margarita says:

    I do believe Miss Manners advises the ‘cut direct,’

    Perfect. As I am a textualist, I will feel at liberty then to literally cut him. I must remember to ask my lawyer if any court has ever ruled on this interpretation of the phrase. Must it be limited to a single cut, of what length and depth, with a first-aid kit at hand, etc.

  18. 18
    Rosali says:

    All those former law clerks ‘ attempts at image rehab are self-serving too. I imagine that the clerkship for Judge ‘Torture Memo’ Bybee ontheir resumes raises questions from potential employers.

  19. 19
    omen says:

    why am i back to being moderated? that was an honest compliment.

  20. 20
    Elvis Elvisberg says:

    “And anyone would have regrets simply because of the notoriety.”

    True. I’m sure Philip Markoff feels the same way.

  21. 21
    Salacious Crumb says:

    Bybee knows eventually his ass is gonna get creamed, if not by the US, then by the international community.

  22. 22
    Woody says:

    Bybee had two choices to preserve his honor.
    1) Resign and blow the whistle…
    2) Blow his brains out on the steps of the DoJ…

    He did neither.

    What’s that tell ya?

  23. 23
    omen says:

    @AhabTRuler:

    I always like to open with: “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”

    ha!

    i liked what somebody suggested for rightwing pundits on tv. they should be introduced as torture advocate so and so.

  24. 24
    omen says:

    @Woody:

    speaking of suicide, did the freddie mac cfo leave a note?

  25. 25
    scudbucket says:

    Bybee was after a judge seat on the 9th circuit. Looks like in order to nail that position down, he had to jump through some hoops at the OLC first. An unfortunate quid pro quo.

    Exactly. I would further add that, as the spin machine kicks into even higher gears, he will be viewed as a victim of said quid pro quo. I mean, he was simply an honest lawyer looking for a high level judgeship and the Bush admin. clearly took advantage of his ambitiousness.

  26. 26

    Tim, thanks for the post. As a practicing lawyer, I feel every ounce of your outrage. I wrote a post earlier this morning that analyzed why everyone in the bush administration who formulated the torture policy was operating in bad faith: http://www.librarygrape.com/20.....faith.html These cowardly, inept people need to be brought to justice — real justice, not the abomination Bush and his cronies forced upon us.

  27. 27
    ChrisB says:

    @Margarita:

    As I am a textualist, I will feel at liberty then to literally cut him.

    You can probably cut him as much as you want so long as a doctor is present to monitor his vital signs and make sure there is no permanent damage. The problem is that it will leave a mark. Probably better to slam him into a wall instead.

  28. 28
    geg6 says:

    Fuck this mother fucker. Regrets, my ass. He should never live another day without having to crawl through the rest of his life, scourging himself and wearing sack cloth and ashes and begging for mercy every minute. And being waterboarded 200 tomes, walled, hung from his wrists, and deprived of sleep for a month once a year. Just to remind him of what a sorry sack of inhumanity he is. Also.

  29. 29
    angulimala says:

    FREE THE ABU GHRAIB SOLDIERS!!!!!

    I’m not fucking kidding.

    If we are not going to prosecute the people who gave the orders, we should free the people who are NOW IN PRISON for following those orders.

    If the orders weren’t illegal then why are the soldiers in jail????
    If they were, why are their leaders not???

    Why hasn’t anyone defending this Administration said ONE SINGLE FUCKING WORD in the defense of the people who carried about their orders?????

  30. 30
    angulimala says:

    These people betrayed the men in their command.

    There is no worse sin for a commander.

  31. 31
    omen says:

    wingers are already contemplating the need for obama to pardon cheney or whoever gets busted for torture-gate. jumping the gun, aren’t we? i’m not all that confident we’ll even get hearings.

  32. 32
    wilfred says:

    Has there been anything on whether U.S. citizen Jose Padilla was waterboarded, too? As I recall he was ready to confess to anything by the time he appeared in court and we haven’t heard a thing about him since.

  33. 33
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    What’s a few rag heads getting slapped around (They’re used to it anyway) compared to getting a fine legal mind like Bybee’s on the bench for life? Those memos kept America free from terrorist attacks for seven years! Bybee should get a medal.
    /Fox News

  34. 34
    kay says:

    If you step back a little from Bybee’s non-apology, it does have value.

    He’s a sitting federal judge and he’s fairly desperate to distance himself from these ideas and actions. He’s different than Yoo, or Cheney, or Addington, or certainly Cheney’s daughter.

    He has a career in government. He has a future on that court, and he’s not defending torture.

    I think that’s important, if you’re looking for cracks in the pro-torture faction.

  35. 35
    El Cid says:

    Hey, somebody remind Colin Powell what his job was regarding My Lai: Covering it up.

    And while you’re at it, remind the entire mainstream media that they all avoided the My Lai story for a fucking year and it had to be published by the god-damn fringe bloggers of their day, the alternative press, especially the Dispatch News Service.

    Beginning months after My Lai, evidence of the massacre was presented to top national news media by Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour and others, but not one outlet would touch the story. It wasn’t until November 1969, more than a year and a half after the My Lai slaughter, that the story was finally published by the small, alternative Dispatch News Service and dogged investigative reporter Seymour Hersh… In the middle of the 20-month period of media silence on My Lai, an inexperienced lieutenant named Kerrey and his team of Navy Seals were sent into a “free-fire zone” at Thanh Phong under rules of engagement that had just been loosened. One wonders if the lives of Vietnamese civilians there or elsewhere could have been spared if mainstream U.S. journalists had been aggressive about My Lai, instead of burying the story for so long.

    I’d blockquote the following, but this bullshit where everything is bolded and paragraphing destroyed just sucks ass, so here it is in italics.

    Please read it and tell me if it doesn’t sound familiar from the last few years.

    —————————————

    From Time Magazine, 1969

    …When the story finally broke in some detail, it was largely because of the digging of a freelance writer who, to complete his research, had to get a $1,000 grant from a foundation. Seymour M. Hersh, 32, had been a police reporter for Chicago’s City News Bureau, a Pentagon reporter for A.P. and a press secretary for Eugene McCarthy. Hersh had written a book on chemical and biological warfare, and he was working on another about the Pentagon when one of his contacts called him in Washington around Oct. 22.

    “I’ve got a fantastic story,” the source said. “There’s a guy down in Benning who is being held on a charge of murdering 70 to 75 Vietnamese civilians.” Hersh put aside his book and started tracking down information that led to an interview with Calley on Nov. 9. He wrote the story the next day, and having failed to interest LIFE and Look when he began his research, decided to peddle it through a Washington outfit called Dispatch News Service.

    D.N.S. was started a few months ago by two 23 year olds, David Obst, who has the title of general manager, and Michael Morrow, its only fulltime staff writer. Obst acknowledges that the service has a left-of-center tone, but he adds: “This is not an antiwar news service, but rather a pro-truth news service.” The son of a Los Angeles advertising man, Obst marketed the Hersh story with chip-off-the-old-block hustle. He sat down with a copy of Literary Market Place, which carries the phone numbers of newspaper editors, and started making calls. The approach, Hersh jokingly told him at the time, was somewhat like selling Campbell’s soup.

    “I’m David Obst of the Dispatch News Service, calling from Washington,” he told about 50 editors in the U.S. and Canada. “I’ve got a story I think you’ll be interested in.” Most of the editors responded with remarks like “What’s that agency again?” Obst persisted, asking $100 if the story ran. Some 35 newspapers (including the Chicago Sun-Times, the Milwaukee Journal and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) printed it Nov. 13…

    …The British press showed more initial interest in the massacre story than the U.S. press. So did British politicians. But while some of them used it to attack the U.S. and its involvement in Viet Nam, one left-wing Labor member allowed that it was “to its great credit” that the story was revealed “in the American press in the first place.” He was perhaps too kind.

  36. 36
    Thom says:

    I think everyone’s missing how FUCKING HUGE this is. Bybee is saying he thinks that torture happened. Bush and cheney can’t say that torture didn’t happen if Bybee says it did. And Bybee told these people to talk to the press. It’s no accident.

    Bybee is signaling to the coming prosecutor that he has a deal to make.

  37. 37
    kay says:

    This is a rant, but I have to. I don’t know how anyone defends Chris Matthews. He’s worse than a wingnut. He’s a complete coward, and he’s proved it yet again. How many times does he have to prove it?

    He’s doing with torture exactly what he did with Iraq. He inevitably and predictably chokes when confronted with anything controversial.

    He’s useless as a reporter, useless as a commentator, and useful for spreading propaganda. He contributes nothing, and takes away a lot.

    He’s a net loss. To anything, really.

  38. 38
    EdTheRed says:

    @Margarita:

    I’d recommend kicking it Old School™, and giving him one of the four forms of Cut.

    Since these days, unless you’re dealing with Zell Miller, you don’t have to worry about being challenged to a duel, the Cut Direct is most definitely on the table: just stare at him for a few seconds, and then turn away without acknowledging him in the slightest. Sure, Emily Post noted that the Cut Direct is “not only insulting to its victim but embarrassing to every witness,” and that it “is such a breach of civility that only an unforgivable misdemeanor can warrant the rebuke,” but I think providing bogus legal cover for torturers counts as “an unforgivable misdemeanor.” Why, it’s almost as bad as a blowjob from an intern!

  39. 39
    passerby says:

    @Salacious Crumb:

    if not by the US, then by the international community.

    Yes. In fact I ‘ll bet their core fear is that of the International Courts. They can spin this like a frisbee here in the States, but I doubt they’ll find any sympathy outside the realm of American politics now that the cat is out of the bag for all the world to see.

    And I think this international component is being largely ignored by our media. We are well aware of our options here in the US–disbarment, prosecution, investigative panels–but is there any legally mandated options outside our borders?

    And now Obama has ok’d the release of photos. This action will fan the flames of horror when we, and the whole world, get a view of this inhuman practice.

    Perhaps Obama needs the force of an outraged electorate to drive the call for prosecution.

    One picture is worth a thousand words.

  40. 40
    Marshall says:

    From William Pfaff

    The men who authorized, ordered, and performed such acts should be hanged. It is as simple as that.

    That definitely applies to Mr. Bybee.

  41. 41
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @angulimala: I actually think we SHOULD prosecute those who ‘just followed’ orders, so I do not have a problem with those soldiers being in jail.

    However, I would feel a whole lot better if their uppers were right there besides them, along with Cheney (he will always be first in my mind), W., Bybee, and the rest of the ilk.

    As for Bybee, he is trying to cover his ass on this, which is pretty hard to do when the emperor has no clothes. Good luck with that one, Bybee. The LEAST that should happen to you is that you get reminded every fucking day of those memos you did or did not write.

    I read the other comments that were posted in the time it took for me to craft my answer. I agree that IF Bybee is admitting that torture happened, it is the first crack in the Bush wall.

  42. 42
    Thom says:

    To put how enormous this is another way: Say Bush and Cheney and the lot of them are accused of murder. They and their supporters keep going on TV and defending BushCo, or distorting the issue, or whatever. Their lawyer just said “they’re guilty.”

    What can they even say now? Expect Cheney to miss his Sunday talk shows. Chest pains, maybe.

  43. 43
    omen says:

    @kay:
    He has a career in government. He has a future on that court, and he’s not defending torture.
    I think that’s important, if you’re looking for cracks in the pro-torture faction.

    or it’s a preemptive PR move meant to short circuit momentum calling for his impeachment.

  44. 44
    JK says:

    Hey Judge Bybee,

    Give me a minute while I tune up my violin, and then cry me a fucking river.

  45. 45
    passerby says:

    @Thom:

    Bybee is signaling to the coming prosecutor that he has a deal to make.

    Good catch. Can’t wait for the full throttle finger pointing to begin. Here’s hoping Chain-ee is left standing when the music stops…as he should be.

  46. 46
    Thom says:

    @Marshall: “The men who authorized, ordered, and performed such acts should be hanged. It is as simple as that.”

    Just fucking bizazrre. We should torture the torturers. Idi-fucking-otic.

  47. 47
    kay says:

    @omen:

    I don’t think so. Bybee isn’t a politician. He’s taking the substance of the allegations seriously.

    Again, this isn’t about “legacy”. Bybee’s still working. These opinions were so poorly reasoned and legally indefensible they were withdrawn. This has been on radar screen for a long, long time.

  48. 48
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Damn. If Bybee really is looking to cut a deal, then…OK. I will reluctantly give up seeing his ass in jail if it means that Cheney and Yoo are there instead. I hate those kinds of deals, but to me, it’s Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, and W. who are the most culpable. Oh, and throw Condi in there, too.

  49. 49
    sgwhiteinfla says:

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/66895.html

    WASHINGTON — The CIA inspector general in 2004 found that there was no conclusive proof that waterboarding or other harsh interrogation techniques helped the Bush administration thwart any “specific imminent attacks,” according to recently declassified Justice Department memos.

    That undercuts assertions by former vice president Dick Cheney and other former Bush administration officials that the use of harsh interrogation tactics including waterboarding, which is widely considered torture, was justified because it headed off terrorist attacks.

  50. 50
    omen says:

    @kay:

    kay, it isn’t just politicians who play the PR game.

  51. 51
    GregB says:

    I think that a movement could be afoot.

    Since the water torture apologists have spent much capital telling us how trivial a little water in the face really is, I suggest that the greeting for any of these people in polite society is indeed a drink thrown in their face.

    I mean it’s just a little water, right?

    -G

  52. 52
    kay says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    There’s another problem with prosecuting the agents. The Bybee memo was withdrawn, and when it was, the government promised to both defend and indemnify anyone who relied on it.

  53. 53
    kay says:

    @omen:

    I just don’t think it’s PR in that sense. I think he is distancing himself from the acts that followed the memo. “Followed”, maybe. I am of the opinion that the memo was written to provide cover for acts that had already taken place. It wouldn’t be the first time in the history of lawyers.

    He’s telling people like Cheney, “you’re on your own”. That has value.

  54. 54
    omen says:

    @kay:
    There’s another problem with prosecuting the agents. The Bybee memo was withdrawn, and when it was, the government promised to both defend and indemnify anyone who relied on it.

    doesn’t sound like bybee finds comfort or confidence in that when he went out and got lawyered up.

  55. 55
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @kay:

    True. I had forgotten that. If that is, indeed, the case, then the soldiers who are imprisoned should be released. It pains me to say it, but it wouldn’t be fair otherwise. In addition, they were scapegoated for the whole sordid affair, which isn’t right either.

    OK. I can keep my eyes on the bigger picture. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo, and W.

  56. 56
    omen says:

    @kay:
    I think he is distancing himself from the acts that followed the memo.

    of course he is. now. he doesn’t want to lose his job.

  57. 57
    passerby says:

    @Thom:

    Bybee is signaling to the coming prosecutor that he has a deal to make.

    And BTW, I’ll bet Colin Powell has already made his deal.

    It’s finally happening. The dark secrets are being laid bare. The most encouraging sign is the wide swath of media that are pursuing the details and mirroring public opinion.

    [Except, of course, as kay pointed out, Chris Matthews who hasn’t ever demonstrated any integrity of view. Chatter box.]

  58. 58
    kay says:

    @passerby:

    He’s worse than a chatter box. He is actively and purposely dumbing down debate, and not even out of ideology.

    He’s doing it because he wants to be LIKED, for God’s sake.

    He’s a freaking menace.

  59. 59
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    And then, according to two of his guests, Bybee added that he wished he could say the same about his previous position.

    “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to rinse away the taste of Alberto Gonzales’ dick,” Bybee told the gathering.

  60. 60
    JK says:

    @sgwhiteinfla: Thanks for linking to that article. Warren Strobel and his colleague Jonathan Landay were the only 2 mainstram journalists I know of who did not buy the Bush Admin line that Iraq posed an imminent threat. They were also featured in Bill Moyers’ program about the complicity of the media in the run up to the war.

  61. 61
    kay says:

    @omen:

    The CIA agents. That’s who we promised to indemnify and defend when the Bybee memo was withdrawn.

    Nobody said anything about defending lawyers.

  62. 62
    wobbly says:

    While you were watching cable, I was watching PBS.

    The man who saved Canada from free-market health insurance….

    That would be Tecumseh in 1813.

    …was mutilated so badly on the battlefield by marauding American troops that his body could not be identified nor buried.

    The commanding officer of those savages, William Henry Harrison, was elected president of the United States.

    As was Jimmy Carter, the dude who, as governor of Georgia, had people driving around with their headlights on in honor of William Calley.

    Good luck with beating the war crimes tom-toms.

    Its ok if you’re American will be Bybee’s chief defense, and it’s a clincher.

    Unless his accusers live somewhere besides lands taken by brute force and way outside the Geneva Conventions.

    I sit and keyboard from a rented house on land taken from the Senecas. There are enough of them still around to sell me untaxed cigarattes, so I guess a deal was done.

    Maybe we should just name a street or a gas station after Abu Zubaida or Khalid Sheik Mohammed and call it quits.

  63. 63
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I hate Tweety. I cannot listen to him even when I agree with him. Give me Larry O (Lawrence O’Donnell) any day. It goes without saying that I love Rachel first and then Keith, my favorite pompous blowhard.

  64. 64
    JK says:

    @passerby: I cringe when I find myself in agreement with Chris Matthews. He’s such a sloppy journalist, he invariably gets key elements of a story wrong. Between his frequent lack of preparedness and his insufferable “look at me” showboating, I’d just as soon have him represent a postion in opposition to mine.

  65. 65
    kay says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    He’s just nothing. He’s like this empty vessel that can be filled with whatever bullshit surrounds him at that moment in time.

    He’s done this pathetic thing with torture. He’s too frightened to look at it, so he’s adopted McCain’s position, and McCain’s position is completely absurd.

    McCain (and his side-kick and adoring kid brother, Chris Mattews) say it’s illegal and immoral but cannot be prosecuted, if (and only if) it’s done by Americans.

    WTF? Can you have that position? What is that?

  66. 66
    AhabTRuler says:

    Warren Strobel

    I interviewed him back in 2005 for a paper (on the contiuing relevance of Nato, more or less), and two things struck me:

    1. He took me seriously, which is pretty good for a Washington reporter dealing with an undergrad.

    2. He was very careful to speak on only what he knew directly or could surmise from his direct experience.

    That, and the fact that Knight-Ridder, and now McClatchy was one of the only news orgs actually gathering news, instead of framing it.

  67. 67
    sgwhiteinfla says:

    Chris Matthews said yesterday that John McCain should have won the presidency in 2000. That pretty much sealed the deal for me. As much as I like it when he busts a conservative’s balls I can’t watch the guy anymore.

  68. 68
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @kay:

    I don’t watch Tweety for that very reason. When he agrees with my position, I want to take the other side because he sounds so stupid. I think you need to take a break from him. I don’t have cable, so I only watch Rachel and Keith online and ignore the rest of the so-called liberal network. It’s better for my mental health.

  69. 69
    JK says:

    @asiangrrlMN: I second that emotion. We must have been reading each other’s minds just now, given the proximity of our posts. I also hate it when Matthews feels compelled to mention films like Lawrence of Arabia and The Godfather to illustrate a point.

  70. 70
    R-Jud says:

    @kay: I have managed to largely avoid Chris Matthews, with the whole living in the UK thing, but when we watched the inauguration we watched the MSNBC coverage, and I was just blown away by the incessant stream of fatuous non-commentary that came out of that man’s mouth (I think Olbermann was as well). In addition to wanting to be liked, he is (like most pundits) completely enamored by the sound of his own voice.

  71. 71
    passerby says:

    @kay:

    He’s a freaking menace.

    Heh. The other day I was browsing MSNBC video clips and selected a Hardball clip. I was quickly reminded why I don’t watch that show. He doesn’t moderate well, constantly interrupts, the guests talk over each other and, well, it’s just chaos.

    Don’t understand who can watch that everyday yet he has a fair amount of viewership. Guess a lot of people like having their buttons pushed.

    Not for me, thanks.

  72. 72
    omen says:

    @kay:

    He’s doing with torture exactly what he did with Iraq. He inevitably and predictably chokes when confronted with anything controversial. He’s useless as a reporter, useless as a commentator, and useful for spreading propaganda. He contributes nothing, and takes away a lot.

    jon stewart didn’t call him machiavellian for nothing.

    i found out all i needed to know about matthews when he effusively praised george bush’s courage for throwing the first pitch at a baseball game. courage? for merely throwing a ball? that’s shameless, even for a butt-kissing sycophant.

  73. 73
    Tim F. says:

    @wilfred:

    Psychologists long ago determined that complete isolation is one of the most profound and mentally devastating kinds of torture. We didn’t waterboard Padilla but we did isolate him to such a degree that he is basically destroyed as a person. We did it on purpose with psychologists consulting.

  74. 74
    JK says:

    @sgwhiteinfla: I almost fell out of my chair when I heard Matthews say that.

    It reminds me of the time when he said that if you were sitting alone on a NYC subway car and there were some teens acting up at the other end of that car, you’d feel safer if you knew that Rudy Giuliani had your back.

    Matthews has many faults, but I think his hero worship and torch carrying for McCain and Giuliani offend me the most.

  75. 75
    Seebach says:

    How does the Bar initiate a disbarment? Does it have to come from the top? Can a lawyer file a motion for the larger Bar Association to disbar a member? Is there any way the profession can make moves on Yoo, Bybee, et al?

  76. 76
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    “And now I’d like to welcome our guest, Jesus Christ. Speaking as a Catholic, I’m honored to have Jesus on our show.”
    “Thank you, Chris.”
    “Now, Jesus, can I call you Jesus?”
    “That’s fine, Chris.”
    “Now, Jesus, what are your feelings towards Pontius Pilate?”
    “Chris, Pilate is often misunderstood. What he did was…”
    “Right. I’ve often felt the same way myself. You once said, ‘In my Father’s house, there are many mansions.’ I’m just a regular guy and I don’t get that but the eggheads don’t seem to get it either. What did you mean?”
    “It’s very simple Chris. I wanted everyone to know that…”
    “Oh yeah. It’s like when our parish priest would make all the kids pick up coal in the streets. Gosh, those were some good times. Now about Mary Magdalene: hottie or nottie…”

  77. 77
    R-Jud says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    “And now I’d like to welcome our guest, Jesus Christ…”

    HA! Win.

  78. 78
    JK says:

    @R-Jud: Fatuous non-commentary is Chris Matthews’ middle name.

  79. 79
    AhabTRuler says:

    I think Matthews is adequately captured by this quote from ‘Diamond’ Joe Quimby:

    Very well, if that’s the way the winds are blowing, let nobody say that I don’t also blow.

  80. 80
    JK says:

    Nice little dust-up between Matthews and Olbermann
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1pLMSaPTi8

  81. 81
    omen says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    okay, dennis, that makes up for your earlier stunner. i think the whole room stopped cold for a few minutes in order to shake their heads of the image and get over the disgust.

  82. 82
    JK says:

    @Dennis-SGMM: Great Stuff

  83. 83
    PaulB says:

    Bybee is saying he thinks that torture happened.

    I think you’re reading too much into this. Bybee’s a lawyer and a judge. He parsed his words quite carefully. That the memo was “misused” is not a de facto admission of guilt or admission of torture. It is, in theory, possible for someone reading that memo to misinterpret the memo or get carried away in its application without “torture” being involved.

  84. 84
    ChrisB says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    I actually think we SHOULD prosecute those who ‘just followed’ orders, so I do not have a problem with those soldiers being in jail. . . . However, I would feel a whole lot better if their uppers were right there in the shower besides them.

    Added for graphic effect. Nothing like a dose of your own medicine.

  85. 85
    sgwhiteinfla says:

    Yesterday this is pretty much how the conversation went between Tweety and Professor Jonathan Turley

    Tweety: Some people say that torture is effective.

    Turley: Doesn’t matter, its immoral and illegal.

    Tweety: But what if there is an attack coming.

    Turley: Its a federal crime.

    Tweety: If it was me I don’t know what I would have done.

    Turley: We outlawed torture in our treaties.

    Tweety: The police used to do it.

    Turley: Until we outlawed it and made it illegal.

    Tweety: Why are you such an absolutist about this?

    Matthews just didn’t WANT to take into account that no matter what strawman situation you put forth it still won’t change the fact that torturing is illegal. He was looking at Turley like he had 4 heads when the silly one was Tweety.

    *edit, I forgot to point out that Tweety and Pat Buchannan tried to compare torture to bombing Japan and shooting down flight 93 on 9-11.

  86. 86
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @omen:
    Well, thank you. That’s far from the worst thing I’ve posted here. I read a lot of William Burroughs and I’m old enough and lucky enough to have seen Lenny Bruce in person. Sometimes it shows.

  87. 87
    sparky says:

    @PaulB: i agree. he was quite careful, even in the context: he was talking with his clerks at dinner. for those of you who are unfamiliar with that milieu, clerking is a confidential relationship. i am surprised the WP got anyone to speak of it, even in the context of a rehab job like this appears to be. unless this was an orchestrated job by Bybee to rehab his name (this i rather doubt, though).

    For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

    Matthew 16:26

    note to Dennis-SGMM. On fire this week, dude.

  88. 88
    wilfred says:

    @Tim F.:

    I’m not convinced he wasn’t waterboarded. After all, if the government believed in its own accusations he would have been the closest to a ticking bomb scenario as they were likely to find. Besides, wasn’t his interrogation tape lost, along with all the others destroyed or lost? In any case, as you say they broke the man completely.

    David Hicks had to file a non-disclosure agreement before he was re-patriated. How many others had to?

  89. 89
    omen says:

    @sgwhiteinfla:

    the blonde woman’s defense was “it depends on how you define torture.” uh, the law defines it already. you don’t get to pick and choose definitions of practices you like and don’t like.

  90. 90
    Thom says:

    @PaulB:

    I think you’re reading too much into this. Bybee’s a lawyer and a judge. He parsed his words quite carefully. That the memo was “misused” is not a de facto admission of guilt or admission of torture. It is, in theory, possible for someone reading that memo to misinterpret the memo or get carried away in its application without “torture” being involved.

    Saying the memo was misused is exactly an admission of torture. There is no other way to read that given what we all know and what is all over the press right now.

    But the larger issue is that those friends, two of them on the record, even spoke to the press at all about this. These were private comments. They would never have come forward if they were not given permission to by Bybee. Or told to by him. He knew perfectly well how this would reflect on Cheney and Bush. How can they defend their actions now? Their actions were based very largely on Bybee’s memo.

  91. 91
    sgwhiteinfla says:

    @omen

    Tweety didn’t even play the definition game, he basically said torture is fine as long as you stop an attack. Even Pat Buchannan basically conceeded that waterboarding is torture. One thing I hated that Turley didn’t do was point out that it was the Reagan administration who signed us onto and helped negotiate the Conventions Against Torture and then ask Pat Buchannan if he had objected when he was in that administration.

  92. 92
    El Cid says:

    Although I’ve been hearing it for a while, it only occurred to me recently just how weird it is hearing people call in to talk shows, even liberal ones, not just defending torture, but aiming to talk about what is or isn’t torture and how they think it should include this but not that…

    …it’s the clear presumption that no one should give a shit whatsoever that the subject of torture has been dealt with nationally (in different nations) and internationally (in a variety of fora including international law, accords, international courts, etc), and we Americans ought to just have the ability to sit back and say “YOU KNOW WHUT? HERE’S WHAT I’S RECKONIN’ TORTURE IS,” without ever even nodding in the direction of acknowledging this shit is not some mystery, there is a god-damn mountain of established legal traditions surrounding this topic.

  93. 93
    JK says:

    US must prosecute CIA interrogation memo authors: UN torture investigator
    http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/pap.....gation.php

    We Already Went Through Our ‘Banana Republic’ Phase
    http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/79405.html

    Why Information about the Combination of Techniques is Essential–Death Can Result
    http://balkin.blogspot.com/200.....about.html

    Who would Jesus torture?
    http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/78953.html

  94. 94
    sparky says:

    aside from the corruption, oligarchy, ideology arguments, i’m starting to wonder if people really don’t understand what “rule of law” actually means. watching these gyrations is like watching people grapple with free speech–the point is to protect the speech you don’t agree with. torture is similar: you don’t get to break the rules because you think it might be expedient to do so. i am sorry that the oligarchy just doesn’t seem to get this, whether we are talking Wall Street, K Street, or some undisclosed bunker.

    there are certain things that you don’t get to do in a civil society any more. slavery is one of them. torture is another.

    edit: @El Cid: well, yeah. but as you know, once you start arguing about what IS and ISN’T torture, you are conceding the premise that some things are ok. then it can’t be evil. it’s as if “No Exit” was a room of bad debaters/lawyers.

  95. 95
    Thom says:

    paulB

    Also, in the WaPo story is this:

    Bybee was disappointed by what was done to prisoners, saying that “the spirit of liberty has left the republic,” Samahon said.

    Those are strong words. What could he be talking about here except torture?

  96. 96
    AhabTRuler says:

    @JK: Matthews is such a WATB!

  97. 97
    kay says:

    @Thom:

    Ugh. He’s a conservative, all right. No accountability. He sounds like Dr. Rice. “Mistakes were made”.

    Tell me, Judge Bybee, how was it that the spirit of liberty left the republic ?

    It went off all by its lonesome? Just wandered away?

    They chased it out.

  98. 98
    Jackie says:

    I’m sure we’ve all played the little mind experiment that if we were living in Germany in the nazi era would we have been heros of the resistance, appalled but too scared to act, in massive denial collaborators or proud nazis? It must be hard on the judge to realize he can stop wondering. (Hey I’m a liberal, I have empathy) I hope he is treated humanely in jail.

  99. 99
    Persia says:

    Sometimes I think this whole thing is just a giant trip to Bizarroland. This post at the corner puts Clinton’s “it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is” to shame.

  100. 100
    Seebach says:

    Is it not possible for Glenn Greenwald and Jonathan Turley to file a brief to the bar association on why Bybee’s conduct is unethical, and disbar him? And Yoo and Addington and all of them? It won’t get him off the court, but it’s a start.

    Can I do it? Can joe citizen file a motion to disbar? Where’s the address?

  101. 101
    JK says:

    Want to Prosecute the Lawyers? Cite Ministries — Not the Justice Case
    http://opiniojuris.org/2009/04.....tice-case/

  102. 102
    TimO says:

    If we wakes every night screaming in horror, I might begin to think about maybe, someday, forgiving him.

  103. 103
    twolaneflash says:

    All American military personnel that went through SERE training were “waterboarded” and worse. They volunteered, they picked up there gear, and they moved forward to defend America, some as naval aviators, others as Special Operativies. I guess of lot of the posters here would have all the SERE trainers in prison for “torture”. Negative encouragement is not torture. Torture causes long-term physical or mental damage, or death. You don’t get to re-define words just to drain the pus from your angry souls. Why are you always looking for someone to hate? Only two prisoners have so far been known to have been “waterboarded”, and someone in a comment above offered to name a street or something after them so we could move on. Why do you lie and make it sound as if random people by the hundreds are being kidnapped and “tortured”? Why do you strain at gnats and swallow camels? Why do you point at the speck in my eye and cannot see the tree limb sticking in your own? Some seriously wrong headed people posting here. Thank God America’s security and defense is not in your hands.

  104. 104
    Leelee for Obama says:

    So, Bybee is upset that the memos were used and people went too far?

    Fulghum’s book about learning everything you need to know in kindergarten comes to mind. He would recommend,”If you give a mouse a cookie”, he’s gonna want a glass o’ milk. It’s always going to be a jumping off point for much worse interpretation. To say nothing of the mental pressure on interrogators that the safety of the nation was in their hands.

    No lawyer who understood the law and cared about it would have written the memos that bear his name.

    Hanging is too good for them, and I don’t even believe in capital punishment.

  105. 105
    JK says:

    Has Dana Perino Really ‘Never Answered’ Whether Waterboarding Is Torture?
    http://thinkprogress.org/2009/.....rboarding/

  106. 106
    PaulB says:

    Saying the memo was misused is exactly an admission of torture.

    You’re assuming a black-and-white situation, which just isn’t the case here. There are all sorts of abuses which could come from a misreading of that memo, some of which fall short of the legal definition of “torture.”

    There is no other way to read that given what we all know and what is all over the press right now.

    Legally? No, your statement is incorrect. There are several ways to read it and, in fact, I do not read it the way that you do, which is prima facie evidence that there are in fact other ways to read it.

    But the larger issue is that those friends, two of them on the record, even spoke to the press at all about this. These were private comments. They would never have come forward if they were not given permission to by Bybee. Or told to by him.

    And you know this, how, exactly? You don’t know Bybee or these individuals nearly well enough to support, or even make, this assertion.

    He knew perfectly well how this would reflect on Cheney and Bush. How can they defend their actions now?

    The same way they did before this article was written. By insisting that a) it was not torture, Bybee’s handwringing not withstanding, and b) it yielded valuable information. Nothing significant has changed, at least not on a strictly legal basis.

  107. 107
    PaulB says:

    Those are strong words. What could he be talking about here except torture?

    The loss of habeas corpus? The show trials intended to yield guilty verdicts rather than seek out the truth? There are several possible interpretations.

    You may well be correct on all counts in your interpretation but it’s just that — your interpretation. You won’t have any luck with that in a court of law. A good defense lawyer would rip that to shreds, assuming you could convince a prosecutor to use it.

  108. 108
    omen says:

    @JK:

    ty for posting. fascinating history.

  109. 109
    omen says:

    Saying the memo was misused is exactly an admission of torture.

    depends on perspective. a rightwing reader would assume bybee was talking about leftwing critics misusing the memo.

  110. 110
    Thom says:

    @omen:

    No, no, no. He was talkign exactly about the memos and treatment of prisoners, according the WaPo story.

  111. 111

    @JK: i hate dana perino sooooo much. the flames, the burning flames, on the side of my face…

  112. 112
    Thom says:

    paulB

    It’s of course my interpretation. And I’d be shredded in court . I’m not making a court case. It’s just how this news struck me. No less than six people – freaking six – two of them on the record, come out now, when the shit has obliterated the fan, about Bybee’s “regrets” on the memos? I think you’re restraint is more extreme then my lack of it, though I’ll concede that’s a safer route.

    What I’d like to know is did those “friends” approach the reporter, or the other way around.

  113. 113
    Thom says:

    @PaulB:

    The loss of habeas corpus? The show trials intended to yield guilty verdicts rather than seek out the truth? There are several possible interpretations.

    the context of the conversation was his memo, which did not have to do with habeas corpus, it had to do with torture.

  114. 114
    Jeremius says:

    If Jay Bybee simply signed off on the memo, then that doesn’t make him 50% less culpable. Rather, it means that an additional person is 100% guilty of twisting the law to allow torture. If there is such a person, I’d like to know his name so that we may ensure that s/he, too, is not a federal appellate judge.

    And, second, if what was in the memo was not reflective of his views, he shouldn’t have signed off on it. The honorable and decent thing to do would have been to have resigned at the time if that was the case. IMaybe he threatened to do so. And maybe that’s why he’s a federal appellate judge right now.

    It’s all very unseemly.

  115. 115
    Jeremius says:

    @kay:

    Oh, he is a textualist all right. He took the text, defined what was “harmless” or “harmful,” and then found every loophole interrogation technique that that definition allowed.

    He’s a textualist sure: He just construes the text in a way that undermines the spirit of the law, rather than the letter.

  116. 116
    Fencedude says:

    @twolaneflash:

    I guess of lot of the posters here would have all the SERE trainers in prison for “torture”

    I advocate the waterboarding of anyone who takes a dipshit position like this.

  117. 117
    burnspbesq says:

    Isn’t it interesting how completely Addington has disappeared from this conversation? Scooter, too – and he was Cheney’s chief of staff when these decisions were being made (Addington was Cheney’s counsel at the time – he didn’t become COS until Scooter got indicted and resigned).

  118. 118
    gwangung says:

    @Fencedude: Gawd. You’re being such a wuss here.

  119. 119
    burnspbesq says:

    Yo, flash –

    Waterboarding SERE trainees is slightly different from waterboarding detainees. Trainees volunteer, and they have the ability to stop the process at any time. Detainees, not so much.

    It’s also worth remembering that SERE training was originally designed to help US troops withstand mistreatment that was leading to captured US troops making FALSE confessions.

    But you know all that. You’re just a mendacious prick.

  120. 120
    GregB says:

    Conservatives seem to have a fundamental inability to understand the concept of consent.

    -G

  121. 121
    Ash Can says:

    @passerby:

    Perhaps Obama needs the force of an outraged electorate to drive the call for prosecution.

    On this subject, via the GOS, Scott Horton recently made an interesting observation in The Daily Beast:

    The Daily Beast has learned that senior Justice Department lawyers were “incensed” at the Emanuel and Gibbs statements, as one put it—not because they disagreed with Obama’s apparent opposition to an investigation and prosecution, but because the statements violated well-established rules separating political figures in the White House from decisions about active criminal cases. … Now the White House misstep may in fact be propelling the process in the opposite direction. Another Justice Department official observed, “The department is now in the process of making some very tough decisions about what to do with this extremely complex and difficult matter. Emanuel’s statement was unfortunate, because now if the attorney general decides against appointing a special prosecutor, people are going to believe that this was a politically dictated decision. The only clear way out of this bind may now be to do what the critics suggest and appoint a special prosecutor.”

    Now, I’m as big a fan of Barack Obama and his innate political ability as anyone. But even I have a hard time believing that he’s deliberately rigging the situation. It’s far more likely that this is just serendipity. But if it does unfold in this manner and lead to prosecution, so much the better.

    And if Obama really did rig this situation… ::shakes head::

    (NB: I was going to link to the DailyKos article, but the link was looking wonky in the preview, and I’ve learned my lesson about that. I linked to the Daily Beast article instead.)

  122. 122
    TrueBlueMajority says:

    I do remember George Wallace’s late in life conversion. He became a Christian (a real one evidently, as opposed to a lot of these high-profile R pretenders in office now), offered public apologies for his segregationist actions, and in his last term as governor appointed a lot of black people to administration positions. And he didn’t wait until his deathbed to purchase a clue, as Lee Atwater did. Wallace deserves some respect for that in my book. He was wrong, but he saw the light and acted on it without anyone forcing his hand. Bybee only regrets he is being held accountable. No sympathy for Bybee from me.

  123. 123
    passerby says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I

    sn’t it interesting how completely Addington has disappeared from this conversation?

    If I’m not mistaken, Addington is still Chain-ee’s man. Talk about a Magnificent Bastard, I’ve never seen such a thug as was Addington in front of a House hearing ;ast year. This guy has the words “Go Fuck Yourself” tattooed on his upper lip.

  124. 124
    omen says:

    @twolaneflash:

    remember the argument your side proferred to defend illegal wiretaps?

    “if you have nothing to hide, then you having nothing to worry about.”

    well, i say the same thing. if bushites have nothing to hide, then investigations shouldn’t be anything to be worried about.

  125. 125
    passerby says:

    @Ash Can:

    It’s far more likely that this is just serendipity. But if it does unfold in this manner and lead to prosecution, so much the better.

    Could be and hope so Ash Can. Since we’re not insiders, your guess is as good as mine.

    As to the matter of whether or not to prosecute, last nite Maddow’s lead guest, Wilkerson (former Chief of staff for C Powell), was coming down on the side of not prosecuting, using the “Obama has too much to do” narrative, until Rachel points out that public will may turn the tide (@10:45 in the clip).

    Without Public Will, prosecutions won’t happen–it seems. Wilkerson was for the permanent disbarment of all attorneys involved, however.

    We can hope for the best but we’ll have to take what we get what ever it may be. We haven’t been in charge for a long time.

  126. 126
    TenguPhule says:

    All American military personnel that went through SERE training were “waterboarded” and worse. They volunteered

    A new record, contradicting twolanes argument in the very next sentence!

  127. 127
    El Cid says:

    I’m thoroughly impressed at right wingers’ enthusiasm for yet another idiot argument: anything our own select, volunteer service members elect to undergo by their own trainers which would be torture in other circumstances cannot be torture.

    Nobody fucking asks the armed services of the United States what they do to train their servicemen before defining torture.

    Torture is already defined. It’s there, in the law. People have been dealing with its definition for decades.

    Nobody says, “Hey, we don’t know if this Argentinian former junta leader can be tried for ordering torture because we aren’t sure whether or not American servicemen volunteered to undergo the same things as part of their training.”

    I know, I know, I know the answer, but I simply cannot help being drive to ask:

    Are they really this stupid, or is it just a mindless commitment to the talking point of the week? Or is there really no distinction, and 2 + 2 = 5?

  128. 128
    KRK says:

    @Seebach:

    Attorney licensing happens at the state level, so the process for pursuing disciplinary action against an attorney (with disbarment as the most severe option) is going to differ from state to state. In many states, the legislature has invested the bar association with powers to license and discipline attorneys; in other states, licensing and discipline is done by a separate entity and the bar association has no formal role in attorney discipline.

    As for specifically how to proceed against Bybee or Yoo, et al., once you know where they’re licensed it should be easy to find info online about the complaint process. (Just search for “attorney discipline” and the state name.) For example, the state bar of California’s website has several pages of info on filing an attorney complaint. The information tends to assume that the complainant is a client or former client of the attorney, but that’s not a requirement. The more challenging part is building a case in the complaint that disbarment is merited by the attorney’s actions.

  129. 129
    El Cid says:

    Don’t our servicemen occasionally undergo live-fire training situations? And thus potentially risking serious injury if not death?

    If so, doesn’t this mean we could shoot at any detainee or fire rockets and mortars around them, as long as they have a chance of avoiding being hit?

    Running Man, here we come!

  130. 130
    dadanarchist says:

    I will file this right alongside Robert MacNamara’s recantations.
    Which is: I don’t give a fuck. The dead are dead, the tortured are tortured, and you’ve won your cushie position in the Establishment.
    To quote Jon Stewart: “Fuck you!”
    Maybe Errol Morris can make a documentary about you….

  131. 131
    Michael C says:

    According to the report, Bybee was angling for a federal judgeship and Gonzales invited him to Justice while he waited for such a position to open. It leads to speculate that he did the devil’s bidding so as not to dash his ambition.

    As it appeared in the Wash Post:

    Bybee’s friends said he never sought the job at the Office of Legal Counsel. The reason he went back to Washington, Guynn said, was to interview with then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales for a slot that would be opening on the 9th Circuit when a judge retired. The opening was not yet there, however, so Gonzales asked, “Would you be willing to take a position at the OLC first?” Guynn said.

  132. 132
    fuyura says:

    The wingers are clinging to that ” It’s in SERE training therefore it’s not torture” because no one in authority ever thought to put a big sign over the SERE facility saying “US service members may face torture, so we’re providing training which involves modified torture techniques so they’ll be aware of what they may face”.

    Which is pretty much the reason they put warnings on appliances: “Do not use this toaster in the shower”. Because some schmuck used his toaster in the shower.

  133. 133

    @twolaneflash:

    From the recent McClatchy reporting (h/t Sully):

    “Individuals undergoing SERE training are obviously in a very different situation from detainees undergoing interrogation; SERE trainees know it is part of a training program,” Bradbury wrote, borrowing from the [CIA inspector general] report’s conclusion.

    [….]

    Quoting from the IG report, Bradbury wrote, “The waterboard technique . . . was different from the technique described in the DOJ opinion and used in the SERE training . . . At the SERE school . . . the subject’s airflow is disrupted by the firm application of a damp cloth over the air passages; the interrogator applies a small amount of water to the cloth in a controlled manner. By contrast, the Agency interrogator . . . applied large volumes of water to a cloth that covered the detainee’s mouth and nose.”

    Bradbury said the inspector general reported: “[CIA’s Office of Medical Services] contends that the expertise of the SERE psychologist/interrogators on the waterboard was probably misrepresented at the time, as the SERE waterboard experience is so different from the subsequent Agency usage as to make it almost irrelevant.”

    Do you actually know anyone who’s done SERE, or are you just here to blow smoke up everyone’s ass?

  134. 134
    Svensker says:

    @Woodrow “asim” Jarvis Hill:

    Interesting points. However, even if the treatments were exactly the same, it makes no difference. What separates professional soldiers undergoing voluntary abuse by their employer in order to understand what might happen to them in the future is completely different than being a helpless prisoner, completely at the mercy of those controlling you.

    Why these fucks like Rush “fraternity prank” Limbaugh can’t see the difference between being a free actor and being under someone else’s complete control is beyond me. I assume it’s just a mental wall they construct to protect themselves from understanding what they are advocating.

  135. 135

    @Svensker : 100% agreed. I’m just adding to the datapoints that support the “twolaneflash (and fools of like mind) is a fuckin’ wanker” thesis. :)

  136. 136
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    As desperately as I want Bush (I & II), Cheney, Yoo, Addington, Bybee, Rice, Bolton, et. al. to hang by the neck until they’re dead, dead, dead, actual war-crimes trials would harden this whole thing into a partisan sideshow. Self-identified Republicans would feel bound to oppose them, no matter how much the sane ones are disgusted by the revelations of what went on.

    What’s happening is almost as good, if not better for changing the political orientation of the country. These revelations are going to keep on dribbling out over the next four and eight years. An ever smaller, and ever more and more rabid minority are going to continue defending the Bush Crime Syndicate, and a larger and larger percentage of the populace are going to be more and more disgusted both at the facts that become public, and the nutjobs defending them.

    If the economy doesn’t collapse into Mad Max territory, and we don’t all die of the swine flu, I think this process will permanently alter the complexion of politics in the US. Remember also, a lot of these right-wing bitterenders are going to die in the next eight years. I’ve spent the 28 years since Ray Gun was elected despairing of the direction the political philosophy of the electorate was going, but now the failure and utter depravity of that philosophy is on display for all to see, and paradoxically I think actual trials trying to prove individual acts that happened at exact times and places would detract from that. It’s the whole tenor of the last 28 years that has to be held up for revulsion and rejection.

  137. 137
    El Cid says:

    If SERE members volunteer to undergo bank robbery training, does that mean there’s not really any such crime as bank robbery?

  138. 138
    El Cid says:

    I think if we just end up talking about it a bit, then it mirrors the “Iran-Contra” proceedings, which did absolutely jack shit, in any real sense.

    All of the same freak criminal shitbags like Elliot Abrams and Otto Reich and John Negroponte and John Poindexter et al not only paid no real consequences, not only did the Democrats & Republicans decide in a bipartisan manner to suppress major sections of the report to which Republicans objected, but these murderous stinkballs just waited around to come back into power.

    Whatever you think is best to be done, don’t think for one minute that these revelations and discussions in any way whatsoever will change the pattern of use of power in this nation. Nope. Won’t. Matter.

    If you think it’s impossible that all this will be screamed about and inquired for the next few years while being followed by having a new “enhanced interrogation” program enacted by any next hypothetical Republican regime which wants to do it, you’re wrong.

    The Savings & Loan collapse, inquiry, hearings, trials of a few individuals, and taxpayer payback did nothing, absolutely nothing to prevent a deregulatory assault on the entire banking and finance system.

    The Iran-Contra investigations and trials of a few individuals did absolutely nothing to prevent the return to direct power of the same people involved, not even to prevent them from running foreign policy for the purpose of faking the cause of a direct U.S. war and occupation and then running the occupation of an entire country any way they wanted.

  139. 139
    James Brown says:

    Are we a nation of torturers?

    Hell no. I don’t torture, my kids don’t torture and I don’t know anyone that does and the only one or two that I’ve even heard of were those on TV – the bad apples that we put in prison for what they did in Abu Grebe. We are not a nation of torturers.

    When I think of a nation of tortures I think of the Spanish Inquisition. I visited a museum of their implements of torture including a wedge that women were placed on that was just sharp enough to force its way into the woman by her body weight alone but not sharp enough to kill here immediately. She had to suffer to be cleansed I guess. Now that was a nation of torturers. Anyone would agree with that.

    I also think of Germany just prior to and during the Second World War. That nation of tortures killed literally millions of men woman and children as fast as they could open the spigots on their gas supplies. Truly a nation completely full of torturers each and every one of them.

    Other nations of torturers come to mind like Pol Pot in Cambodia (no that wouldn’t be a good example because the people of Cambodia were the ones tortured to death) but how about Caligula and the Roman Empire. That was when torture was raised to a fine art. We are not like that. There were very few torturers in the US the rest of us are innocent.

    I don’t think a future generation looking back on America during the first part of the twenty first century will think of us as a nation of tortures. Do you?

  140. 140
    Green Eagle says:

    This is a late reply to Margarita, who said above that she was thinking about throwing her drink in Bybee’s face.

    I would not advise this. Within three or four hours, you would have Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity demanding that you be tried for ginboarding him.

  141. 141

    .
    Actually, Wallace is remembered for recanting. It’s the only decent thing he ever did. He ended up in a wheelchair, thanks to a would-be assassin. That seems a bit harsh, here.

    But, I have here in my hand an envelope containing photographic evidence,
    PROVING THE PRESIDENT IS NOT A CITIZEN!

    Because, you know, Hawaii is not a State. And I’m not here. And you’re not there. In fact, nobody is anywhere, officially.
    .

  142. 142
    kay says:

    I found out about the planned use of tasers where I live when I went to this (required) seminar-type event, and a representative from the taser industry and local police explained their use.

    The police had been given the opportunity to volunteer to be tasered during training, and two of the younger officers did that. They told us about their experience. It’s horrible, incidentally.

    I left thinking tasers were a really bad idea.

    I thought they would be over-used, and I thought younger officers would rely on the device rather than learning how to calm people down, by talking to them, because older and more experienced police officers are often great talkers: they get good at it.

    I think I was right. Tasers are grossly over-used, and the whole issue is completely out of control. Police officers who are bad at their job are using them to force people to comply with unlawful orders, and to bully. This is happening in my county, now, today.

    They’re relying on the device rather than “talking people down”, and that skill will be lost.

    Talk to someone who has been tasered. They describe being “lifted off the ground”. Some of them black out. They have dream sequences, and they get disoriented. This is a brutal practice. It does more than subdue. It’s no different than beating the shit out of a suspect, except it doesn’t leave a mark.

    I predict tasers will be outlawed in 5 years, when all the state by state data starts coming in, and enough people have been tasered, and we’ll all wonder what the hell we were thinking allowing them.

    Anyway, one of the main selling points used when they were selling us the IDEA of tasers, at that seminar, was the fact that two police officers had volunteered to be tasered, and “they were all right”.

    I see they’re doing the same with torture.

  143. 143
    El Cid says:

    @James Brown:

    Are we a nation of torturers?

    You’re not supposed to care about that kind of question any more. No one is supposed to have any self respect. No one is supposed to consider the character and morality of their own actions and how this will reflect upon the type of society we wished to create.

    The United States of America, one of the grandest experiments in building a utopian society (whether or not it lived up in reality to those ambitions), where at its founding those shaping obsessed over how the form of society in part because of how it would shape the individual, while obsessing over the values of the new citizenry since they anticipated that the individual’s values would shape the moral character of the entire society.

    Self-respect is now weakness, evil, a sickly over-consideration of your foes or of the accused.

    The notion that you don’t torture because you don’t want your citizenry to be torturers, and you don’t want your society to be a society of torturers, is a weak and antiquated notion. The only cause to refrain from torture is now your own weakness and cowardice and your over-consideration of the needs and rights of the individual whom you have been told must be tortured.

    It is the same for habeas corpus, and for fair trials in general, no?

    Clearly no one would insist on habeas corpus because one wanted a society which follows this, the founding principle of legal rights and republicanism. One only follows habeas corpus because a weakly led government has failed to reject it yet, or because one isn’t manly enough to decide when throwing a person in jail without charges is necessary.

    And one only wants fair trials because one is a simpering enabler of the accused — those old fogies who thought themselves brave enough to shape a society which would carefully accuse and try any accused fairly are dead and gone, and lived in a pre-9/11 world.

    In a post-9/11 world, cowardice is the order of the day, and self-hatred the norm.

    No?

  144. 144
    sparky says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: i hope you are right about the revelations. my guess is that if there is anything that will scourge the rot in this country it will be the recognition that the GOP picked the pocket of 95% of the country. no one likes to be taken for a fool.

    nb: i don’t agree with the comments here about death. even if the principals were convicted of war crimes, executions would fan the fire of State blood-lust.

  145. 145
    Sasha says:

    So should the official penance for torture be a mea culpa essentially stating:

    “I feel bad about it. Isn’t that enough?”

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