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War Criminal of the Week: Bye, Bye Jay Bybee

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By Nancy Mancias

“An individual placed in a box, even an individual with a fear of insects, would not reasonably feel threatened with severe physical pain or suffering if a caterpillar was placed in the box.” - Jay Bybee

Judge Jay Bybee counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes. Now a federal judge, he led the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel from November of 2001 to March 2003. He signed not only torture memos but also a memo purporting to legalize illegal and unconstitutional wars. He represents perhaps the most dangerous example of the Bush Administration’s flouting of the rule of law. In August 2002, Bybee wrote a legal memo giving an incredibly narrow – and wrong – definition of torture, justifying the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The Bush Administration later recanted the memo when it became the source of international outrage.

His memos helped pave the way for the abuses seen at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Bybee, John Yoo, Robert Delahunty, Alberto Gonzales and other legal scouts under the Bush administration have not been brought to justice for these atrocities. In March 2003, Bybee was confirmed by the Senate to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Peace and anti-torture activists protest Judge Bybee outside federal courthouses when he is scheduled to hear a case. On August 31, 2010, he returned to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pocatello, Idaho. Bybee was met with a peaceful demonstration.

The same protest presence has taken place in Pasadena and San Francisco with activists coming together with the intention to hold him accountable.

He has faced calls of impeachment from Senator Patrick Leahy. even ran a short lived impeach Jay Bybee campaign.

In 2009, Spanish prosecutors were pressing forward in a criminal investigation targeting Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Douglas Feith, William Haynes, and David Addington over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo.

As war criminal Jay Bybee continues to sit comfortably in a judge’s chair, CODEPINK along with other activists will continue to hold a protest presence outside the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to remind the public of Bybee’s torturous work under the Bush administration.


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