Senate judiciary committee chair asks Bybee to testify on interrogation memos

Senate judiciary committee chair asks Bybee to testify on interrogation memos

[JURIST] Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday invited [press release and letter] former head of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) [official website] and federal judge Jay Bybee [official profile], who signed off on memos detailing the legal rationale for enhanced interrogation techniques, to testify before the committee. Leahy wants Bybee to explain apparently contradictory statements in which Bybee expressed regret [Washington Post report] for signing the memos and then defended [NYT report] his actions. Leahy wrote:

By coming forward to testify, you will be able to explain your position with regard to these matters, including your involvement and your knowledge regarding how these memos were written and approved, what considerations went into that process, who was consulted in that process and the roles of various individuals.

Bybee has not yet commented [AP report] on Leahy's invitation.

As former head of the OLC, Bybee signed off on a recently released [JURIST report] memo [text, PDF] authorizing the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. Leahy called for Bybee's resignation [AFP report] from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] after the memo was released. Bybee also signed off on a previously released controversial memo [text, PDF] that defined torture as physical pain equivalent in "intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily functions, or even death." Earlier this week, Leahy reiterated his calls for a non-partisan truth commission [JURIST report] to investigate Bush administration officials responsible for authorizing certain interrogation techniques during an interview [transcript, PDF] with CBS. Leahy initially called for the creation of a truth commission in February and then again [JURIST reports] during a Judiciary Committee hearing in March.


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