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Bybee Latest Proposed GOP Medal Recipient

May 3, 2009

This week, Judge Jay Bybee broke his silence regarding his infamous August 2002 torture memo, calmly declaring "the conclusions were legally correct." But while some Democrats want the 9th Circuit Appeals Court judge impeached or at least to testify before Congress, New York Rep. Peter King believes Bybee should be "given a medal." As it turns out, King's is just the latest conservative voice calling for a GOPy medal for perpetrators of Republican wrongdoing, a list that also includes the destruction of CIA torture tapes and the outing of covert operative Valerie Plame.
Before his 2003 conformation to the bench, Bybee, as you'll recall, affixed his name to the August 2002 memo largely authored by Office Legal Counsel rubber stamp John Yoo. And for proclaiming that torture "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death," Peter King insists, Bybee deserves an award:

"I think that Judge Bybee should be given a medal for what he did. But even if I disagreed with those memos, these are memos written in good faith. These well written, well reasoned memos. People may disagree with them, but he belongs on the bench. He should stay on the bench. And I think talk of impeaching him or going after him is again the worst type of political vindictiveness."

King's proposed trophy is just the latest GOPy, an award presented by conservative ideologues to their fellow Republicans for excellence in the commission and/or concealment of potential crimes.
Another recent GOPy winner was Jose Rodriguez, the one-time head of the CIA's clandestine service who authorized the destruction of almost 100 videotapes of the "enhanced" interrogations of terror detainees. For that, conservative commentator and failed Bush Labor nominee Linda Chavez insisted, he deserved a prize.
In her Decemeber 21, 2007 column titled "Destroying CIA Tapes Deserves a Thank You," Chavez argued that the 2005 decision by Rodriguez should be lauded. Chavez expressed her gratitude that Rodriguez destroyed evidence of "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding, acts which may have violated U.S. law and American treaty commitments:

In the next few months, his name will likely be dragged through the mud, and he will be vilified as a rogue official engaged in a massive cover-up. I think he deserves a medal...
Even though he is likely to become a scapegoat, what he did was right. He protected not just his men but all of us. I, for one, thank him.

Of course, Chavez is far from alone in wanting to reward those concealing the criminality of the Bush administration. Former Fox News host and right-wing radio mouthpiece John Gibson similarly wanted to bestow honors on those who exact revenge on Bush's opponents. In November 2007, Gibson cheered the White House operation to out covert CIA operative Valerie Plame as retribution for her husband Joe Wilson's July 2003 op-ed debunking President Bush's bogus claims about Iraq seeking uranium in Niger. Ending the classified career of CIA agent deeply involved in critical nuclear proliferation work and compromising her global network was essential, Gibson argued, because "this was about an anti-Bush cabal at the CIA" that needed to be "rooted out." Again, this right-wing water carrier declared, there ought to be a medal:

"I'm the guy who said a long, long time ago that whoever outed Valerie Plame should get a medal. And if it was Karl Rove, I'd pin it on him myself."

And so it goes. For the Republicans' amen corner, the whistleblowers and journalists who exposed Bush's illegal domestic surveillance, the CIA network of secret black prisons, and torture techniques like waterboarding deserve prosecution. Meanwhile, Jose Rodriguez, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and others behind Bush administration wrongdoing are national heroes. And since George W. Bush can no longer honor the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, Tommy Franks, George Tenet, Paul Bremer and Chuck Colson, the conservative commentariat will have to do it for him.
So for his outstanding work in the national shame and violations of U.S. and international law that is the Bush administration's regime of detainee torture, the GOPy goes to Jay Bybee.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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