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Book closed on BYU grad for torture memos, but Demos protest

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  • Outraged
    Feb. 26, 2010 11:44 a.m.

    Democrats are not the only ones upset at this. I am appalled that a member of the LDS Church would be a major player in shaping the law to a horrible policy. As recent as Vietnam, we prosecuted and punished people for waterboarding others, and now it's suddenly okay? Whatever happened to the golden rule?

    John Yoo and Bybee think that the President, as commander-in-chief, has no restraints. No laws, no rules, no second guessing. He's the decider, and as such, can do whatever he pleases. This is unacceptable in our system of government, and these two men should be prosecuted for aiding and abetting war criminals.

  • Publius
    Feb. 26, 2010 11:45 a.m.

    I am heartbroken that a member of my own faith would use the Nuremberg Defense to allow others to commit horrible acts of torture. This is a sad day for LDS members and those who love the constitution.

  • To Outraged and Publius
    Feb. 26, 2010 12:03 p.m.

    Go ahead and admit (1) that you have never read the memos in question and (2) either that (a) you are not a lawyer and do not really understand the duties a lawyer owes to his or her client or (b) you are a lawyer and, because you have not read the memos, you cannot really judge whether Bybee and Yoo exercised good judgment or not. The pretended outrage of career politians (i.e., opportunists) such as Leahy is inescapably politically motivated and, unless you actually have read the memos and have the training to understand them, your willingness to jump on the condemnation bandwagon reflects extraordinarily poor judgment. Judge not. Arm-chair outrage is cheap.

  • Stalwart Sentinel
    Feb. 26, 2010 12:24 p.m.

    @To Outraged and Publius

    Your choice of words could not be more hilariously incriminating that you have no clue what is going on.

    You said "you cannot really judge whether Bybee and Yoo exercised good judgment or not." True, but the Justice Department can, and this holding specifically stated that Bybee and Yoo used "poor judgment." It seems "your willingness to jump on the [apologist] bandwagon reflects extraordinarily poor judgment."

    That aside, this is horrible precedent and opens the door for others to facilitate torture w/ an after-the-fact justification of "I thought I was protecting the country." Never mind that Cheney et al were already torturing, then went to Bybee and Yoo to justify their deplorable acts. This is case in point an example of what the conservatives do to a good member of our faith: turn him into an example of moral opprobrium. Bybee truly has brought a black eye to our faith.

  • William of Utah
    Feb. 26, 2010 12:43 p.m.

    I admit that I haven't read the memos, nor have I yet read Yoo's new book. Nevertheless, use of torture is not justified under our system of law that protects the rights of individuals and was law based on moral principles. Torture of humans, even during war, is morally wrong, in my opinion. When the Chinese-Communists in Mao's horrible nightmare regime tortured humans it was wrong, when German Nazis tortured human beings it was wrong, and when American soldiers or other government workers torture human beigns, of any country, it is wrong.

  • torture
    Feb. 26, 2010 1:04 p.m.

    All of these debates seem to founder on the notion of torture, for good reason: there is no uniform definition of torture. Loud condemnation of Bybee and Yoo is almost uniformly based upon one definition of torture, and equally loud defense of them is based on another. Unfortunately, what constitutes torture is inherently a subjective determination, and basing any form of official sanction on a subjective difference of opinion would set a very dangerous and arbitrary precedent.

  • Cats
    Feb. 26, 2010 1:14 p.m.

    Waterboarding is NOT torture.

    This is nothing more than an attempt to criminalize political differences. These Democrats are so vicious and vindictive it is really scary. I'm glad Leahy has pretty much been shut down. He is a real creep.

  • Happy LDS guy
    Feb. 26, 2010 1:15 p.m.

    I think it's a great day, knowing another LDS guy won't accept PC garbage and supports proper treatment of murderers.

  • Whitewash
    Feb. 26, 2010 1:26 p.m.

    I'm an attorney and I have read the memos, and I've also read the reports stating that the original investigative finding was that Yoo and Bybee DID engage in misconduct. It's only because a DOJ higher-up reversed this ruling that these two characters will go scot-free.

    What have we come to as a nation when well-educated government lawyers will advise the administration that torture is just fine as long as the president authorizes it against enemy combatants? Sickening. It makes me ashamed of my country and my profession.

  • Can't Take Anymore
    Feb. 26, 2010 1:42 p.m.

    Some people feel "torture" is getting their cell phone taken away for a month, or listening to their spouse "snore" all night. As previously said, the word is subjective.
    The Islamist Jihadists have been instructed by their commanders that they cannot divulge any information upon capture (pretty normal order). BUT, if they feel they are going to die if they don't "talk", then they are released from their oath of silence and they can spill their guts (figuratively). So, the whole intent of the "Torture" is to get the captive to feel they are on the brink of death, then let the captive talk. This methodology was WORKING. Waterboarding although unpleasant was not killing anyone - it just brought the captive to the brink so he could be RELEASED to talk.
    Agreed this is not nice to do. But how else do you obtain info on other plots and accomplices? You could feed them ice cream all day (if the captive is lactose intollerant that might be considered torture), or give them a nice quiet place to read - that would be great for the captive. No pressure to divulge secrets that could SAVE INNOCENT PEOPLE.
    Let's just play nice.

  • Imp41
    Feb. 26, 2010 1:43 p.m.

    Nov 2005: Bush says U.S. ‘does not torture people’
    President responds to report that 2005 memo relaxed interrogation rules - “We stick to U.S. law and international obligations,” the president said, without taking questions afterward. Feb 2010: Cheney acknowledged that the White House had told the Justice Department lawyers what legal opinions to render.

    The War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal statute set forth at 18 U.S.C. 2441, makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national, whether military or civilian, to violate the Geneva Convention by engaging in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment.

    The statute applies not only to those who carry out the acts, but also to those who order it, know about it, or fail to take steps to stop it. The statute applies to everyone, no matter how high and mighty.

    Enuf said.

  • I read the words
    Feb. 26, 2010 2:03 p.m.

    But all I get from it is Waaaaaaaa.

  • Publius
    Feb. 26, 2010 2:12 p.m.

    @Sentinel
    Regardless of your legalease, torture is wrong. You can try and justify it or justify Bybee's actions through whatever legal maneuver you like, but at the very heart of the matter is Bybee and Yoo looked for and found legal justifications to torture. There is a huge difference between something being immoral and illegal. Bybee may be justified legally, but morally, there is no justification.

  • This is sad
    Feb. 26, 2010 3:00 p.m.

    They are making a Moe hill into a mountain here. This whole thing is being blown out of proportion just because this man (BYBEE) is a "devout Mormon" and loves his religion. What a shame. If he were not Mormon this would never happen.

  • Mark B
    Feb. 26, 2010 3:10 p.m.

    What's the old Dylan song that goes "You've got to serve somebody"? Bybee and Yoo forgot that their real employers were the citizens of the US, not Bush, Cheney, & Co. Publius is correct. If Bybee comes to a BYU graduation, I hope it's as a spectator, not as a speaker.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 26, 2010 3:16 p.m.

    Legal advice based on politics. The whole think is revolting. And from someone who supposedly reveres the Constitution. "Hah! I spit in your general direction!"

  • Debbie
    Feb. 26, 2010 3:33 p.m.

    Wow, this should NEVER happen to such a great man. Mr. Bybee is a genuinely good and decent man. I stand behind him. He has our support.

  • Stalwart Sentinel
    Feb. 26, 2010 3:41 p.m.

    @Publius | 2:12 p.m

    Uh... did you read the wrong comment box?

  • CaseyA
    Feb. 26, 2010 3:47 p.m.

    C'mon, the whole thing has been propaganda and political positioning. The party that was in power was removed from power in large part because the other party and its constituents were "outraged" by the policies in place. Then, after power was exchanged, the new party in power had to appease its constituents by going after "the bad guys" from the other party. If the didn't do this, they would appear to have falsely trumped up the aforementioned outrage. At the same time, they couldn't truly go after the "bad guys" because they intend similar or the same abuses later and wouldn't want their own heads on the future chopping block. They save face by having a "non-partisan" make a determination, probably the only one anyone could make, that lets the "bad guys" off. Constituents get a pound of flesh but the general order of things is maintained. Much ado about nothing.

  • Outraged
    Feb. 26, 2010 3:51 p.m.

    This is what I call Mormon persecution. It is totally outrages. I cannot believe that Bybee has to go through this ordeal. I will pray for him and his good family.

  • Stalwart Sentinel
    Feb. 26, 2010 3:55 p.m.

    @ This is sad

    You are absolutely correct, this is all about Bybee being a devout Mormon. It demonstrates that conservatives will turn an otherwise honest, upstanding person of faith into a facilitator of human torture. All under the auspice of 'keeping our nation safe.' However, in truth, Bybee served to undermine the very fabric of American society by vigorously seeking out loopholes to torture a fellow human being. Indeed, the Justice Department noted that he intentionally ignored precedent that contradicted his findings. The problem is that proving 'willful blindness' is a high bar. The shame here resides in the fact that a presumably active member of our Church would ever associate themselves w/ this deplorable act.

    And, despite what "Can't Take Anymore" falsely believes, torture does not work. Aside from the shortsightedness that resides in assuming a captor is not trained to withstand torture, it also fails to acknowledge that death at the hands of the enemy is far more attractive to a fundamentalist than saving one's own skin and divulging information. In other words, people like "Can't Take Anymore" seriously underestimate these captors' resolve.

  • Um,
    Feb. 26, 2010 4:35 p.m.

    Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged. I also pray for Bybee and his family.

    Someone needs to have Water Boarding explained to them.

  • Um,
    Feb. 26, 2010 4:38 p.m.

    U.S. government officials have at various times said they do not believe waterboarding to be a form of torture.[13][14][15][16] To justify its use of waterboarding, the administration of George W. Bush issued classified legal opinions that argued for a narrow definition of torture under U.S. law, including the Bybee memo, which it later withdrew.[17][18][19] In January 2009 President Barack Obama banned the use of waterboarding. In April 2009, the U.S. Department of Defense refused to say whether waterboarding is still used for training (e.g., SERE) purposes.[12][20]

  • vontrapp
    Feb. 26, 2010 8:38 p.m.

    Torture is deplorable, anyway you look at it. Sure, "torture" is subjective, but torture is not. IOW it's a tall order to try and concretely define torture, it won't even have the same definition in all cases. I think a good metric is the intent, if the intent is to cause discomfort for the purposes of coerced compliance (to spill the beans or whatever) than that is unquestionably torture IMO. I am truly sad for Bybee and the mark he leaves on BYU. It's a good thing we have repentance and I hope he makes full use of it.

  • Not Mormon Persecution!
    Feb. 26, 2010 8:52 p.m.

    I could care less what religions Bybee and Yoo practice. It just sickens me that anyone, let alone well-educated lawyers, would try to justify torture, especially when military intelligence officers tell us that torture is not only ineffective in obtaining reliable information, but it also leads to torture of our own soldiers.

    Very creepy and dead wrong. Oh for the days when I could trust the US to take the moral high road.

  • To vontrapp
    Feb. 26, 2010 10:19 p.m.

    Sorry, old buddy, but this good man Bybee will oversee whatever it is that burdens the minds of people like you. Bybee loves the LDS church, and he loves God. BYU will never be marked or effected by any such nonsense. BYU loves Bybee, and Bybee loves BYU. My advice to you is to simply leave it alone.

    Vicky M

  • Publius
    Feb. 26, 2010 11:35 p.m.

    To all those defending Bybee as a good person, as a god fearing person, as a BYU loving person, as a family man etc...ad nauseam, I have one specific quesiton....how do you feel about torture? Does institutionalized torture take away any of its immorality and inhumanity. Does a bomb droppped from 30,000 feet that kills 10,000 people do any less damage to human life and is it any less violant than soldiers going in with swords and machine guns. Just because an individual is 30,000 feet above the ground organizing how to legally torture, the action is no less reprehensible and inhumane. The fact that it is institutionalized gives it no more justification than had Goerbels and Eichmann in their defenses.

  • Thank you Bybee, et al.
    Feb. 27, 2010 12:29 a.m.


    I am very grateful to Mr. Bybee, as well as numerous other LDS members (Flanigan, Mitchell, Jessen, Sampson, etc.) involved in advancing the Bush administration's agenda.

    I try to be a Christian, and investigated the LDS faith. There are many wonderful things about the LDS faith. However, anyone who pretends that Christ condones the actions promoted by these gentlemen really needs to reread the New Testament.

    Disturbingly, I found almost unanimous support for their actions by the majority of LDS. In addition, though I have looked and asked, I have found no condemnation of their actions by LDS leadership. (And yes, the Church does speak--which is its right and duty--when it feels something is immoral, e.g., the Proposition 8 fight.)

    Christ told us that we can know the truth of something by looking at its fruits. The actions of these gentlemen, and the explicit and tacit support from most of the LDS community and hierarchy, was very informative in my decision making.

    I do not condemn these men any more than I wish to be condemned for my errors, and I hope that someday they may find the path to Christ.

  • There Will Be Justice
    Feb. 27, 2010 6:49 a.m.

    Like Outraged above I too am horrified and embarrassed a member of the church I attend wrote the memos that sanctioned torture.

    I regret we're moving on. But I take solace in knowing that the third paragraph of Jay Baybee's obituary will detail his unpardonable efforts to facilitate and condone torture.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 27, 2010 7:03 a.m.

    To all those above who suggest this is all about persecuting a good Mormon you are only illustrating how ignorant you are regarding this entire episode.

    In her book The Dark Side, author Jayne Mayer writes about the religious tradition of each of the participants of the White House "Gang of 5", of which Bybee was a member.

    By the way there were more members of the church involved in this effort than just Bybee. Other church members worked closely with Bybee in the White House while other members actually led the effort that saw SUSPECTED enemy combatants tortured nigh unto death.

    This is a shameful chapter in an otherwise stellar history of public service by church members.

  • You Speak Truth
    Feb. 27, 2010 7:48 a.m.

    To "Thank you ByBee, et al. at 12:29"

    I find nothing but truth in what you write.

    As an active member of the church may I go on record as being profoundly and utterly appalled by the work of Flanigan, Mitchell, Jessen and Sampson re torture. There is nothing within Mormon doctrine to justify their behavior. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

    Secondly, your indictment of my fellow church members as being supportive of torture is true. Our members are passionate about their politics and beliefs but profoundly ignorant of the application of Gospel principles in their everyday life.

    Finally, I am speechless as to why the work of these men has not been condemned by LDS leaders. I have no idea. None.

  • Rural Conservative
    Feb. 27, 2010 9:50 a.m.

    This topic has been exhausted. For the person who lamented that the leaders of the LDS church had been silent, I add this statement given by President James E. Faust to the BYU law school. "There is a great risk in justifying what we do individually and professionally on the basis of what is 'legal' rather than what is 'right.' In so doing, we put our very souls at risk. The philosophy that what is legal is also right will rob us of what is highest and best in our nature. What conduct is actually legal is, in many instances, way below the standards of a civilized society and light years below the teachings of the Christ. If you accept what is legal as your standard of personal or professional conduct, you will deny yourself of that which is truly noble in your personal dignity and worth." ("Be Healers," Clark Memorandum, spring 2003, 3)

    Any outrage I may feel at the reported actions of another, whether real or imaginined, does little good unless it moves me to action. Unless my determination to improve my own actions or to encourage the right choices of others is strengthened,it is worthless.

  • John Potter
    Feb. 28, 2010 2:18 p.m.

    Some of the responses I have seen have been rather startling, especially one in particular. I won't even bother bringing it to attention but this issue ought to be much more than "ado" about nothing." This ought to be about bringing to light who benefits and who has control of the puppet strings.

    recent ABC news interview.
    Here is what Cheney stated:

    "The reason I've been outspoken is because there were some things being said, especially after we left office ... disbarring lawyers in the Justice Department who had - had helped us put those policies together...."

    Why is that statement important? Because from the very beginning of the torture scandal that enveloped the Bush administration, Bush, Cheney, and other high U.S. officials have maintained that they were relying on the torture memos issued by the attorneys in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

  • John Potter
    Feb. 28, 2010 2:19 p.m.

    The notion has been: We shouldn't be held responsible for any criminal violations on torture that occurred at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere because we were in good faith relying on the independent legal opinion of the lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel.

    By the same token, defenders of Office of Legal Counsel attorneys John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and others who participated in the issuance of the torture memos have said that such lawyers shouldn't be held responsible because they were simply issuing legal opinions in good faith based on their particular understanding of the law.

  • John Potter
    Feb. 28, 2010 2:21 p.m.

    Basically there are two different types of lawyers:

    One type, when asked by a client whether a certain course of conduct would be legal, delivers his best answer even if it's not the answer the client wants to hear.

    The other type of lawyer says to his client: "What do you want the answer to be?" and then issues a legal opinion to justify what the client wants to do. The idea is that if the client is busted, he can say, "I was just relying on my attorney's advice. Here is his legal opinion that he issued to me in good faith."