Friday, June 25, 2004

Bybeed

Jay Bybee, the lawyer who headed the Office of Legal Counsel to White House Legal Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, and the man behind the infamous torture memo (pdf), received his reward from Bush by being appointed to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Being an opinion slut pays off big time. All you have to do is excrete a sufficiently helpful, albeit immoral and legally nonsensical, opinion, and - bingo! - you're an appeals court judge. Who does Bybee remind me of? Robert Bork. In 1973, Nixon demanded that his Attorney General, Elliot Richardson, fire Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor who was getting dangerously close to discovering Nixon's role in Watergate. Richardson, being a man of integrity, refused, and Nixon fired him. Nixon then demanded that Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus fire Cox. Ruckelshaus, being a man of integrity, also refused, and resigned (or, according to the Nixon White House, was fired). Nixon then looked under a rock and found his Solicitor General, Robert Bork, who, unencumbered by the integrity of his predecessors, was happy to fire Cox. This series of incidents is known as the 'Saturday Night Massacre'. Bork had to wait longer than Bybee for his reward, but was eventually appointed to the Court of Appeals by Reagan. Bork became famous when Reagan unsuccessfully tried to elevate him to the Supreme Court. Bork then had the honor, like Captain Boycott, of having his name made into a verb. Bork's actions and Bybee's actions are similar in that both chose personal ambition over personal integrity, and both acted on the basis that the President of the United States isn't subject to the laws of the United States. A lawyer who issues an opinion which he knows is legally incorrect in order to obtain personal benefit by pleasing his employers can be said to have bybeed.

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