Who is he? He's Jay S. Bybee, a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th District, and he is not entitled to be sitting behind the bar of justices -- he ought to be behind bars. It was Bybee, along with area man John Yoo, who came up with the tortured explanations for the United States to torture terror suspects, a violation of American and international laws and a black stain on America's reputation.
In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.
It's not clear whether Bybee will ever get his day on the appropriate side of the courtroom, not when President Obama calls this "a time for reflection, not retribution," which is what I plan to tell the officer the next time I'm pulled over for a traffic violation. But the American people, and our elected representatives, have another option, and that is the option of impeachment -- something that Congress needs to initiate immediately.
The problem here for the Obama Administration - and let’s be frank this now is a problem for the administration - is that neither the White House nor the Justice Department seems willing or able to explain or justify the gulf between Attorney General Eric Holder’s talk about the government’s recommitment to the “rule of law” and President Barack Obama’s talk about the need for “reflection and not retribution” against former officials who may have broken the law.
If we believe that our “rule of law” looks backward, at past conduct to determine whether it warrants “retribution” in the form of punishment, then surely Judge Bybee and Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo and Steven Bradbury and others deserve to be held accountable for the way they twisted the law to “legalize” torture. And if you believe, as the President seems to suggest, that our “rule of law” should look forward, too, then how do you argue against empanelling a blue-ribbon commission to ensure that we know how to deal with the torture issue should it be raised again in the future? Would that not be a “reflective” act?
Once again, it's the people who have to push for this, because our leaders have failed. Maybe we should stop calling them "leaders."