Thursday, July 15, 2010

House Judiciary Committee Releases Bybee Testimony on OLC Memos

In a surprise move, the House Judiciary Committee released a transcript (PDF) of a May 26, 2010 interview with Judge Jay Bybee, the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the early Bush administration. Bybee, notoriously, co-wrote with John Yoo two August 2002 OLC memos authorizing the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" program. These memos took CIA and JPRA/DoD characterizations about the supposed safety of torture techniques, and along with various twisting and misrepresentations about legal precedent, gave the CIA torturers a green light.

Now Bybee says that all the torture the CIA did was not approved by the memos that bear his name. He also slipped and made various admissions that are still being analyzed by astute observers. For instance, as Marcy Wheeler noted in a posting today, Bybee essentially admits that the CIA experimented on sleep deprivation upon Abu Zubaydah. We know that, but to hear Bybee basically validate it is something. Of course, he tried to walk that back. See Marcy's story.

For a full description of the testimony, and greater context with which to understand the latest revelations, see Jason Leopold's article today at Truthout. For a list of related documents also released by the Judiciary committee, click here. -- While I haven't time to fully write up my own reaction to the testimony, it does seem as if Bybee is trying to distance himself from the CIA and John Yoo, while at the same time justifying his own part in the creation of the memos. It's a classic display of CYA, and it's fun to see what parts of the transcript Bybee wanted to change (see the story on sleep deprivation, for instance, linked above, and here's another one from Marcy/EW).

Posted below is a press release from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) on the Bybee revelations.
Torture Lawyer Jay Bybee Confirms CIA Use of Illegal Interrogation Techniques

Washington, D.C.—The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), a campaign of over 285 religious organizations working together to abolish U.S.-sponsored torture, responded today to the admission made by Judge Jay Bybee, who formerly headed the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), that the CIA used torture techniques beyond even those approved by the OLC.

Types of torture approved by the OLC under then Assistant Attorney General Bybee include waterboarding, walling, stress positions, and sleep deprivation. During his testimony on May 26 before the House Judiciary Committee, Judge Bybee confirmed that the CIA went beyond even those approved types of torture to force detainees to defecate on themselves, to hold detainees in extended isolation, to hang detainees from ceiling hooks, and to administer daily beatings of detainees.

Acting U.S. Attorney John Durham has been tasked by Attorney General Holder with investigating those interrogations that went beyond the guidelines propagated by the OLC. Judge Bybee’s admission confirms that CIA interrogators used types of torture that were not allowed by the OLC guidelines.

“The fact that the CIA used forms of torture not allowed by even the flawed OLC memos demonstrates the need for U.S. Attorney Durham to thoroughly investigate the CIA’s use of torture,” said NRCAT Executive Director, Rev. Richard Killmer.

“It is very important to note that the use of torture was not the result of a few bad apples, whether at the CIA or at the OLC. Rather, the use of torture was condoned at the highest levels of the Bush White House. President Bush is unrepentant about having authorized the use of torture, recently telling a crowd in Grand Rapids that he would ‘do it again’ about the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Also Judge Bybee stated that he was concerned about close communication between John Yoo and the White House. If Attorney General Holder does not follow his investigation to the highest levels of the U.S. government then the result will be a tragic scapegoating instead of true justice.”

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, more than 285 religious groups have joined NRCAT, including representatives from the Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Baha’i, Buddhist, and Sikh communities. Members include national denominations and faith groups, regional organizations and local congregations.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Which Surgeon General (Army or Navy) was in charge of the doctors at Guantanamo during the last 9 years? If Army, was Kevin Kiley one of them? If Navy, was Donald C. Arthur (now at Main Line Health near Philadelphia) one of them?

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