Tag Archives: Jay Bybee

The Tattlesnake Cheney the War Criminal Edition

Those who watched Dick Cheney’s speech Thursday, May 21 had a glimpse of the ‘real Cheney’ stripped of his usual condescending corporate-CEO cold-bloodedness and country-club sham machismo — for the first part of his remarks he was a shaken, sick old man of 68 desperately trying to make a case for brazenly violating the laws of civilization and the US Constitution, apparently clinging to the notion that if he can summon up enough public support for his torture policies he can avoid the temporary judgment of a jury, and the more lasting condemnation of history.

For, in fact, Cheney’s fervid protestations that ‘we didn’t torture’ and his subsequent bizarre assertions that ‘everything we did was legal’ fail on both counts, yet another prime example of the perpetually wrongheaded Cheney approach on display since he assumed the vice presidency by way of an illicit Supreme Court decision in 2000.

The waterboarding that Cheney has blithely admitted to in several different public forums has been defined as torture since the autos-da-f纯a> of the Spanish Inquisition 500 years ago, and various international tribunals and American courts in the Twentieth Century have reaffirmed that definition. Cheney’s justification that the torture he authorized was ‘legal’ because a couple of DOJ lawyers told him so holds no more water than if they had advised him it was legal for him to own slaves. The Constitution Cheney took an oath to uphold states clearly that ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ is banned, as do several treaties the US has signed which are by dint of Congressional approval the law of the land, as well as the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment signed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1988 which specifically prohibits the sort of cruel and degrading treatment of detainees Cheney authorized.

Read more

Today’s Quotes: Bush’s Torture Memo Lawyers Didn’t Read the Geneva Convention (or Their Oaths of Office)?

Seriously Jay Bybee, Bush’s former Assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, apparently didn’t bother to read the Geneva Convention definitions of torture before giving advice to Bush and Cheney on what constitutes torture? And this guy’s still a federal judge?

“Judge [Jay] Bybee’s r貵m矴ells us that he has four children and is both a Cubmaster for the Boy Scouts and a youth baseball and basketball coach. He currently occupies a tenured seat on the United States Court of Appeals. As an assistant attorney general, he was the author of the Aug. 1, 2002, memo endorsing in lengthy, prurient detail interrogation ‘techniques’ like ‘facial slap (insult slap)’ and ‘insects placed in a confinement box.’

“He proposed using 10 such techniques ‘in some sort of escalating fashion, culminating with the waterboard, though not necessarily ending with this technique.’ Waterboarding, the near-drowning favored by Pol Pot and the Spanish Inquisition, was prosecuted by the United States in war-crimes trials after World War II. But Bybee concluded that it ‘does not, in our view, inflict severe pain or suffering.” ”
— Frank Rich, “The Banality of Bush White House Evil,” NY Times, April 26, 2009.

From the Geneva Convention:

Part II, Section I, Article 13, “General Protection of Prisoners of War”: “Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention.” […]

“Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.”

Part III, Section I, Article 17, “Captivity”: “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.”
— From the “Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War,” adopted August 12, 1949 and signed by the United States on October 21, 1950. Published by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Everything proposed by Bybee and Yoo was illegal under both the Geneva Convention and US torture laws, and they should have known that. So should Bush, Cheney and the others who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. Read the exact oaths below:

Read more

Today’s Quotes: Stop Yoo Are Torturing Me

“The most troubling example pertains to Abu Zubaydah’s mental state before he was tortured. John Yoo (writing under Jay Bybee’s name) goes to some lengths to establish Abu Zubaydah’s sanity. After five paragraphs that basically make Abu Zubaydah out to be a self-confident stud, here’s what Yoo says about AZ’s psychological health.

“‘According to your reports [from CIA Acting Counsel John Rizzo], Zubaydah does not have any pre-existing mental conditions or problems that would make him likely to suffer prolonged mental harm from your proposed interrogation methods. Through reading his diaries and interviewing him, you have found no history of ‘mood disturbance or other psychiatric pathology [,]’ ‘thought disorder [,] … enduring mood or mental health problems.’ He is in fact ‘remarkably resilient and confident that he can overcome adversity.’ When he encounters stress or low mood, this appears to last only for a short time. He deals with stress by assessing its source, evaluating the coping resources available to him, and then taking action. Your assessment notes that he is ‘generally self-sufficient and relies on his understanding and application of religious and psychological principles, intelligence and discipline to avoid and overcome problems.’ During detention, Zubaydah has managed his mood, remaining at most points ‘circumspect, calm, controlled., and deliberate.’ He has maintained [this] demeanor during aggressive interrogations and reductions in sleep. You describe that in an initial confrontational incident, Zubaydah showed signs of sympathetic nervous system arousal, which you think was possibly fear. Although this incident led him to disclose intelligence information, he was able to quickly regain his composure, his air of confidence, and his ‘strong resolve’ not to reveal any information.'”
— Excerpt from one of the John Yoo/Jay Bybee torture memos, as quoted by Emptywheel at Firedoglake.

“Meanwhile, this is what Dan Coleman–an FBI guy with deep knowledge of al Qaeda–had to say about AZ in Ron Suskind’s One Percent Doctrine:

‘Dan Coleman and other knowledgeable members of the tribe of al Qaeda hunters at CIA were reading Zubaydah’s top secret diary and shaking their heads.

”This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality,’ Coleman told a top official at FBI after a few days reviewing the Zubaydah haul.’

“Two different people reading the same diary. One cherry-picks from it to claim AZ exhibited no evidence of ‘mood disturbance,’ whereas another reads the same diary and concludes the guy is nuts.”
— From “The OLC Memos, ‘Erroneous and Inflammatory Assumptions,’ and John Rizzo’s Lies,” by Emptywheel at Firedoglake, April 16, 2009.

“Although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result to violate the statutory prohibition on infliction of severe mental pain or suffering … In the absence of prolonged mental harm, no severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted, and the use of these procedures would not constitute torture.”
— Liliana Segura, quoting from the Jay Bybee memo of August 1, 2002, in “New Bush Torture Bombshell Memos: 10 Horrifying Discoveries,” AlterNet, April 17, 2009.

Read all of the declassified Bush Administration torture memos here.