Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bybee and the BYU Connection

The radical right, born again litter of the Republican Party which has held dominion since before the Reagan revolution, as we see now has also taken a wrecking crew to the Constitution, and the first thing to go was the separation between church and state.

Thanks to our new president's decision to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, we now also know the almost inconceivable details of an August 1, 2002 memo written by then assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, and current federal judge for the Ninth Circuit, Jay Bybee.

The 2002 memo, addressed to then attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, from Mr. Bybee, his assistant in the Justice Department, details ten "techniques" to be used on detainee Zubaydah in an effort to accomplish the unthinkable--circumvent anti-torture statutes in the U.S., as well as international law.

Among the interrogation methods Bybee featured on his to-do list was waterboarding. And, after taking a quick peek at the federal judge's own personal history, one might almost be tempted to conclude that Bybee may have thought of waterboarding as a different kind of baptism.

President George W. Bush nominated Jay Bybee in May, 2002 to the U.S. Court of Appeals and he appointed Bybee also to a pivotal post in the Justice Department. But, where it gets curiouser is when one considers Mr. Bybee's background, and juxtaposes it with other Bush appointees. Interestingly, Jay Bybee was graduated from Brigham Young University, the largest religious university in the country, where he was vice president of College Republicans.

A few years later, also on George W. Bush's watch, then attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, appointed Dr. Kyle Sampson to serve as chief of staff at the Department of Justice. Well, Mr. Sampson also earned his undergraduate degree from BYU.

Timothy Flanigan, deputy attorney general, also had a BA from Brigham Young University.

Michael O'Neill, chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also under George W. Bush, was a Brigham Young alumni.

Orrin Hatch--- you guessed it, BYU

Thomas B. Griffith, U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit, who was confirmed in June, 2005, had previously served as General Counsel at Brigham Young University.

And, who did Alberto Gonzales inherit from John Ashcroft as his right hand? Former government lawyer, Monica Goodling, herself appointed by George W. Bush to be the White House liaison to Justice. It was Ms. Goodling who in May, 2007 confessed to a House committee that she had "taken inappropriate political consideration into account" while hiring at the Justice Department. wonders what this "inappropriate political consideration" may have involved, and what collegial pedigrees were required for employment at Justice? Remember, too, that Monica Goodling was a card carrying member of the neo-conservative radical right who got her law degree from Regent University, the school founded by Pat Robertson that calls itself "America's preeminent Christian university."

Someday, when the history of the George W. Bush administration is written, many will marvel at just how many career Christians served as his henchmen, and the irony that the now infamous 2002 memo that tries to justify waterboarding was written by a member of this their country club, one that claims to extoll the right to life while, at the same time, trying to figure out how to practice cruel and unusual punishment which is not to be confused with torture.

Some, in the Bush administration, would like to see Jay Bybee serve as a human shield for Mr. Cheney, and others in their administration who committed acts which, even by medieval standards, would be considered execrable.

Arguably, the only thing more perverse is their effort to deconstruct secularism, the Bill of Rights, and turn the Justice Department into a nightmare worthy only of Marquis de Sade.