Congress Must Impeach Judge Bybee for Authorizing Torture

Common Cause on Tuesday called for the impeachment of federal Judge Jay Bybee for his role in signing a 2002 memo released last week that authorized torture.

Bybee, then an assistant attorney general, signed the memo that authorized various forms of torture, including waterboarding, slamming detainees into a wall, putting them in “stress positions,” and depriving them of sleep for up to 11 days. These techniques are illegal under U.S. code. They are also a violation of international law, and the United States’ obligations under the Geneva Convention. Additionally, the conduct authorized by Bybee in these memos is morally reprehensible.

Bybee now sits as a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The job of federal appellate judge requires sound legal judgment and a respect for the rule of law and the highest standards of personal integrity and moral judgment,” said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. “These memos make clear that Judge Bybee was not interested in fairly interpreting and upholding the law – but instead in creating legal cover for illegal acts. Congress should immediately begin impeachment proceedings against Judge Bybee to determine his fitness for this job.”

When Judge Bybee was appointed to this critical post and confirmed by the Senate, Congress had no knowledge of the contents of the legal memos. The revelation of these memos requires action. Bybee is currently serving a lifetime term on the bench.

“Congress must act immediately to protect the integrity of the federal judiciary and to begin to set right the tragic abuses of power which have occurred,” Edgar said. “An impeachment hearing would give the American people the answers they deserve and determine Mr. Bybee’s fitness for holding a job which above all requires a respect for the Constitution and the highest standards of personal integrity and moral judgment.”