Jay S. Bybee's partial regret?
The former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, Jay S. Bybee, is back in the news today, although perhaps not of his own volition.
The House judiciary committee has released a transcript of its May interview with Bybee, who signed two key memos sanctioning harsh interrogation methods under the Bush administration. In the transcript, Bybee says that the memo did not authorize some of the specific techniques used.
Bybee, now a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, has said little publicly about the documents since leaving Washington. In April 2009, The Washington Post published a story about Bybee's life in Las Vegas. At the time, his friends and associates suggested Bybee had expressed private regret about the memo.
"I got the impression that he was not pleased with that bit of scholarship," one said. "I don't know that he 'owned it.' . . . The way he put it was: He was head of the OLC, and it was written, and he was not pleased with it."
Bybee later issued written comments to a New York Times reporter in which he challenged the accounts of his regret and defended the legal thinking behind the memos. "I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct," he told the Times.
In the interview released today Bybee was asked about the Post story. He said that he had "expressed some regret."
"I have regrets because of the notoreity that this has brought me," Bybee told the committee. "It has imposed enormous pressures on me both professionally and personally. It has had an impact on my family. And I regret that, as a result of my govenment service, that that kind of attention has been visited on me and on my family."
He also reaffirmed his belief that the conclusions of one key memo were correct. "In terms of the analysis, I am going to stand by the memo,'' he said.
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