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Bybee Speaks

Well, sort of. He issues a statement to the NYT that pushes back against a recent WaPo article, which quoted his friends saying he told them he regretted signing the torture memos. From the NYT:

Given the widespread criticism of the memorandums, he said he would have done some things differently, like clarifying and sharpening the analysis of some of his answers to help the public better understand the basis for his conclusions.

But he said: “The central question for lawyers was a narrow one; locate, under the statutory definition, the thin line between harsh treatment of a high-ranking Al Qaeda terrorist that is not torture and harsh treatment that is. I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct.”

One interesting wrinkle in the whole impeachment debate about Bybee is the question of whether, absent impeachment, he can ever really defend himself on the torture memos. Bruce Ackerman, the Yale Law Prof who got the Impeach Bybee ball rolling earlier this year with this article in Slate, told me in a recent interview that one of the reasons he favors impeaching Bybee is because unlike, say, John Yoo, Bybee, as a federal judge, can't go on "60 Minutes" to defend his conduct. Of course, there are a few federal appeals court judges--most prominently Richard Posner and Bybee's Ninth Circuit colleague Alex Kozinski--who don't feel the need to limit their writing to judicial opinions. I wonder if Bybee's statement to the Times is an indication that he might be shedding that inhibition as well.

--Jason Zengerle