Judge Bybee defends so-called 'torture' memo in statement to NY Times


This is what news competition is about. You win some, you lose some, some get rained out.

The Review-Journal has been trying for some time to get local attorney, former UNLV Boyd Law School professor and current 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee to talk to us about the infamous “torture” memo written when he worked for the Bush White House.

The memo has been roundly criticized from the left as being “legal” excuse for harsh treatment of prisoners of war. There have been calls for his impeachment as a judge.

The Washington Post carried a story, which the Review-Journal reprinted on the front page, in which sources reported Bybee had regrets about the memo.

Today The New York Times carries a story quoting Bybee defending the memo, apparently in response the Post story.

In a statement given to the Times, Bybee wrote, “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. …

“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.”

The Review-Journal has editorially opposed the call for impeachment. Meanwhile, we’ll keep asking Judge Bybee to talk directly to you his neighbors, through the R-J, and keep you abreast of what is being reported in other media.