Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Banality of Torture

Like other true Bush believers, the lawyer responsible for the torture memos turns out to be a hair-splitting pursuer of the abstract rather than an impassioned advocate.

Judge Jay S. Bybee says his work as head of the White House Office of Legal Counsel was merely “a good-faith analysis of the law” and that the "central question for lawyers was a narrow one."

We are in Eichmann territory here, the bland leading the morally blind, the self-deprecating functionaries just doing their narrow jobs while following orders that lead to horrors.

Now a friend of Bybee's, anonymous of course, says "I've heard him express regret that the memo was misused. I've heard him express regret at the lack of context--of the enormous pressure and the enormous time pressure that he was under."

Bybee, however, managed to overcome his qualms and keep serving the Bush Administration until he was nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he is still analyzing the law and rendering judgements.

At the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the technician who ran the concentration camps, Hannah Arendt coined the phrase "the banality of evil," to describe how the Nazi hierarchy depended on ordinary, ambitious but morally obtuse people like him to implement their inhuman goals.

A fellow judge of Bybee's now says in a statement: “He is a moderate conservative, very bright and always attentive to the record and the applicable law. I have not talked to other judges about his memo on torture, but to me it seems completely out of character and inexplicable that he would have signed such a document.”

No, it isn't.

1 comment:

Yellow Dog Don said...

Is it not true that the Jews had their rights and property taken legally by the Nazis under the laws of the Third Reich?

Were there not laws in place to remove Jews, gypsies and others from the general population to concentration camps and compel them to forced labor?

Were the lawyers of the Office of Legal Counsel ignorant or criminals to opine that torture of prisoners is legally permissible?

Attorney General Holder needs to investigate and prosecute, as necessary, individuals involved in this criminal conspiracy.