Today, Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy announced that Judge Jay Bybee, notwithstanding the interviews he has granted to newspapers, has refused the committee’s invitation to appear and explain his role in preparation of the torture memoranda. Leahy observes:
Since Judge Bybee, through his lawyers, has declined to testify before the Committee at this time about his role in the drafting and authorization of memoranda from the Office of Legal Counsel that permitted torture, I can only presume that he has no exonerating information to provide. Judge Bybee must know that the presumption in our civil law is that when a person fails to come forward with information in his possession that is relevant to a matter, it is presumed to be because the information is negative and not helpful to his cause.
Testifying voluntary before the Judiciary Committee about these now-public memoranda is one way in which Judge Bybee could have helped complete the record of what happened and why but he refused. This is especially inappropriate given that Judge Bybee has hardly maintained silence about these matters.
Will the House now open impeachment proceedings? Today at the National Press Club in Washington, I joined in a panel discussion of the impeachment issue with Michael Frisch, Ethics Counsel at Georgetown University Law Center, and Michael Gerhardt, Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law and Director of the Center for Law and Government at the University of North Carolina. Alliance for Justice Director Nan Aron moderated the panel. You can watch it here.