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Yale Law Students Protest at Speech by Judge Who Signed ‘Torture Memo’

Posted Feb 1, 2008 9:38 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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About 25 law students put garbage bags over their heads to protest an appearance yesterday by Judge Jay Bybee, who signed the so-called torture memo when he headed the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

The trash bags were intended to resemble hoods put on military prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the Yale Daily News reports.

The controversial memo (PDF posted by the Washington Post) said the president had the authority to order torture techniques that violated the Geneva Conventions and international and U.S. laws. Legal prohibitions against torture applied only if the methods used caused pain of an intensity consistent with "organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death," the memo said.

Bybee is now a judge on the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bybee appeared visibly annoyed by the protest and momentarily stopped speaking, the story says. The speech was closed to the press, but a reporter could see the event from the hallway.

A hat tip to How Appealing, which posted the story.


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