Notes From All Over – thru May 17

Comment here on the Notes From All Over for the past week.

  1. São Paulo to Honor Mormons Monday
    • Sessão Solene com a finalidade de homenagear os Mórmons do Estado de São Paulo. Assembléia Legislativa do Estado de São Paulo, 18 May 2009. At the suggestion of Deputy Chico Sardelli, the Assembly of the State of São Paulo, Brazil, will honor the Mormons in the state Monday.
  2. Cambridge chapel burns down
    • Fire breaks out and engulfs Mormon church in Cambridge during morning meeting. By Daniel M. Peleschuk and Emma Rose Johnson, Globe Correspondents. The Boston Globe, May 17, 2009. The blaze, which hit three alarms, began at 10:37 a.m. in the church at at 4 Longfellow Park, off Brattle Street, sending members spilling out onto the street. No injuries. No Foul Play. Site includes video.
  3. Annual Mormon History Association Conference starts Friday in Springfield Illinois
    • A full plate at Mormon history conference. Presentations will range from LDS beginnings to the present-day topics. By Peggy Fletcher Stack. The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/14/2009.
  4. Centerville UT Chapel Damaged in Arson Fire
    • Passer-by douses LDS church fire: Investigators suspect arson, say damage is $2,000. By Steve Gehrke. The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/15/2009.
  5. Hey, wait – this is a different brand of Mormonism.
    • LDS worship skills. by Chorister. Mormon Matters, May 16, 2009. “I feel like that sometimes at church. I’m a Mormon—born and raised—but sometimes I look around and think: “Hey, wait – this is a different brand of Mormonism.”
  6. Exemption for Religious Foes Of Gay Marriage Debated
    • Exemption for Religious Foes Of Gay Marriage Debated.
      Washington Post, 16 May 2009. “Vermont and Connecticut have enacted laws that exempt clergy from performing same-sex marriages and give religious groups the right to refuse their facilities for same-sex marriage celebrations and allow them to refuse to provide insurance benefits to same-sex partners.
  7. Kirby expounding on “forced religion”
    • Kirby: Whether by Mormons or not, we’re all products of ‘forced’ religion. By Robert Kirby, Tribune Columnist. Salt Lake Tribune, 05/15/2009. “As nice as it is to think about freedom of choice in religion, we’re all trickle-down products of some sort of “forced” religion.
  8. NPR: In Utah, ‘Zion Curtain’ Comes Down
    • In Utah, ‘Zion Curtain’ Comes Down. All Things Considered, May 14, 2009. “Until recently, Utah bartenders could not serve alcoholic drinks to patrons over the bar counter. Instead, bartenders and patrons were separated by a partition called the “Zion Curtain,” a reference to the Mormon Church. But under a new law that took effect this week, restaurants can rip out that barrier.
  9. Red rover, red rover, let radioactive waste come on over…
    • EnergySolutions wins court battle to import foreign waste. By Amy Joi O’Donoghue. Deseret News, May 15, 2009. “The decision by U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart in Salt Lake City validated the Salt Lake City-based company’s arguments that its efforts to bring the waste to Utah fall outside the regulatory purview of the Northwest Compact, a regional coalition of states tasked with overseeing low-level radioactive-waste management.
  10. Obama to appoint Jon Huntsman as Ambassador to China
    • Source: Obama Taps Utah’s Huntsman for China Post. By Michael D. Shear. Washington Post 44 blog, May 15, 2009.
  11. What you missed from the Eurovision 2009 semifinals: Serbia, and the most awesome Soviet kitsch ever
    • Marko Kon & Milaan – Cipela (Eurovision 2009 Serbia). posted by EurovisionPL. Youtube, May 14, 2009.
      Eurovision 2009 Red Army Alexandrov Ensemble + t.A.T.u. posted by polkovodetz. Youtube, May 12, 2009.
  12. KBYU in danger of being stripped of its PBS affiliation for carrying “sectarian” content
    • PBS Weighs Separation Of Church & Stations. By Paul Farhi, Washington Post Staff Writer. Washington Post, May 16, 2009. At issue is KBYU’s 2 hours each day of BYU Devotional broadcasts, and other broadcasts of LDS devotional material, such as General Conference.
  13. For the first time since the question was asked (in 1995), more Americans self-identify as pro-life than pro-choice.
    • More Americans “Pro-Life” Than “Pro-Choice” for First Time. Also, fewer think abortion should be legal “under any circumstances.” by Lydia Saad. Gallup News Release, May 15, 2009.
  14. Murph One of 10 Best Not in MLB Hall of Fame.
    • The 10 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame. by Graham Womack. Baseball Past and Present, May 14th, 2009. “If character counts, Murphy should have been a first-ballot inductee.” Murph “deserves a spot on the All-Time Nice Guy squad” and “also hit 398 home runs and won back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards.
  15. “In every case, the relationship is exactly the opposite of the one that Hudson’s argument requires. Those societies that are most acceptant of homosexuality are also the societies that are the most gender equitable.”
    • Is There a Trade-Off Between Rights for Women and Acceptance of Homosexuality? By J. Nelson-Seawright. By Common Consent, May 15, 2009.
  16. Some things to chat about at a lunch with Amy Brown Lyman
    • Why I would like to have lunch with Amy Brown Lyman. by Bored in Vernal. Hieing to Kolob, May 15, 2009. Bored in Vernal would like to ask her about her relationship with her husband, Apostle Richard R. Lyman, who was excommunicated for polygamy in 1943.
  17. Yettaw Called ‘Fool’
    • US ‘fool’ at centre of Suu Kyi furore. ABC News (Agence France Presse, May 15, 2009. The little that is known about Yettaw suggests that he thought he was helping Ms Suu Kyi’s cause.
  18. Way cooler than your garden-variety scout activity — and the YW *are* invited.
    • Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More. by Jennifer Steinhauer. New York Times, 13 May 2009.
  19. Mormon gender gap?
    • The puzzling Mormon gender gap. by Dave Banack. Beliefnet, May 15, 2009. Why do Mormons have one of the most lopsided gender ratios of any religion: 44 percent men and 56 percent women?
  20. Jessop Seeks Child Support from FLDS Leader, her ex-husband
    • Former wife wants child support from FLDS ranch leader. By Ben Winslow. Deseret News, May 14, 2009.
  21. Late Childbirth Means Long Life?
    • Late childbearing may mean longer family lifespan. By Anne Harding. Reuters, May 14, 2009. Mothers who have children late in life tend to live longer, massive study shows.
  22. “Some feel that they have been misled and not informed about the tough issues. We may not have good answers–we may not have anything more to offer than an apology, but they deserve attention and answers from those who can listen, understand and respond
    • Frozen Yogurt FAIL: What a Bad Consumer Experience Taught Me about Retaining Members in the Church. by Jeff Lindsay. Mormanity, May 14, 2009.
  23. LDS convert gives statement on parents’ actions
    • LDS convert gives statement on parents’ actions. The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/14/2009.
  24. BYU Law: Dead Last in Alcohol Availability + #1 in “Dateable Student Body” = #89 overall in the prestigious “Law School Party Rankings”
    • The first annual Party Law School Rankings, Subtledig, 8 May 2009.
  25. What is the role of faith in corporate law?
    • Faith in the Boardroom. by Sarah Duggin. The Conglomerate, May 13, 2009. “This approach suggests that faith and morality enter the corporate decision-making process not as primary considerations – i.e., not as measures of what is the “right” thing to do – but as elements that may be considered so long as the ultimate goal is the best interest of the company.
  26. “I used to think I was a selfless person, a generous person, but motherhood has made me realize that I’m a lot more selfish than I thought I was.”
    • Selfish Mama. By Shelah. Feminist Mormon Housewives, May 14, 2009.
  27. Yettaw Left 4 Children in Care of Neighbors Before Trip
    • Motives of American who swam to Suu Kyi a mystery. By Maria Sudekum Fisher. Associated Press 14 May 2009. Elements of Yettaw’s background discovered to date may indicate mental instability.
  28. Big Pharma proves it has a heart
    • Free Lipitor, Viagra, other drugs for jobless. By Linda A. Johnson. Huffington Post, May 14, 2009.
  29. Engaging Mormon Doctrine through Film
    • Dynamite, Dutcher, Hitchcock and the failure of LDS movies. By Michael De Groote. Mormon Times, May. 14, 2009. San Jose State University grad student says the debate over Mormon theology found its most public expression in the Mormon film movement. Spencer spoke at the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities conference.
  30. Mormon Man’s Misadventure Leads to Suu Kyi’s Arrest
    • Suu Kyi Faces Jail After Uninvited Guest. By Hannah Beech. Time, May. 14, 2009. LDS Church member John W. Yettaw, a 53-year-old Vietnam Vet from Falcon, Missouri, swam across a lake May 3rd to pay an uninvited visit to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Both Yettaw and Suu Kyi have been detained by Burmese authorities.
  31. Lawyer for parents says they didn’t kidnap their LDS daughter.
    • S.L. County detectives talk with LDS convert’s family. After nearly 6 hours of questioning, the couple were allowed to return to Texas. By Steve Gehrke. The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/13/2009. A Salt Lake City detective began interviewing Danielle Wednesday evening in Texas. She, too, now has an attorney. “We’re not sure how that’s going to affect what she says,” Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Don Hutson said. “It is a little unique to have an attorney with a potential victim.
  32. Fundamentalist Mexican Mormon Freed, Kidnappers Arrested (in Spanish)
    • Arrestan a secuestradores de Eric Lebaron. El digital, 11 Mayo 2009. The men who kidnapped Eric Lebaron, a fundamentalist Mormon in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, have been arrested less than a week after they released Lebaron.
  33. MAG 10th Anniversary Book
    • Mormon Artists Group marks 10th anniv. with ‘On Sunday.’ By Glen Nelson. Mormon Times, May. 13, 2009. On Sunday looks at LDS Church services around the world.
  34. Mormon meat markets.
    • Marriage as a Mormon value. By Julia Duin. The Washington Times, May 14, 2009. “Anyone wonder why the Mormons do so well at marrying off their young? I learned why last Sunday, when I dropped by the ward in Chevy Chase, a brick building on Western Avenue.
  35. “Women going to university is part of the whole massive onslaught on God’s Nature which characterizes our times. True universities are for ideas, ideas are not for true girls, so true universities are not for true girls.”
    • Bishop Will Read Up On Auschwitz, But May Not Recant. By Robert Mackey. The Lede, New York Times News Blog, February 9, 2009. In a new interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Bishop Richard Williamson, the recently rehabilitated Catholic priest who told Swedish television that “not one” Jew had died in a Nazi gas chamber during World War II, says that he will “now review the historical evidence once again.” The quotation about women is just one more of many of his views.
  36. Utah Republicans moderating?! The end is near!
    • Salt Lake City Liberals: What’s happening to Republicans in Utah, and could it happen to Republicans anywhere else? By Christopher Cox. Slate, May 13, 2009. “Utah’s brand of religious conservatism is unique. And last fall’s successful but bitter campaign against legalizing gay marriage in California has left the most dominant force in Utah’s civic life—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—uncharacteristically silent about the very same issue in its home state.
  37. Everything’s Amazing, Nobody’s Happy
    • Louis CK “Everything’s amazing, nobody’s happy.” (Usually Barefoot) Meg, Dec 4, ‘08. Video clip from the Conan O’Brien show on our lack of gratitude for the modern world.
  38. Water Not Included in Fasting
    • Mormon Prophet Says Abstaining from Water in Fast Not Necessary. Science Says it’s Healthier. by ama49. Grace for Grace, May 12, 2009. Cites Heber J. Grant in 1932 Official Declaration, and suggests that fasting but still drinking water yields better health.
  39. LDS Church Grandfathered in Under 1997 Austrian Law
    • Austria Welcomes Jehovas Witnesses to the Club. By Peter. Headlife, May 8, 2009. Austrian Census numbers show LDS Church is too small to qualify as “religious community” under 1997 Austrian law, but was grandfathered in.
  40. N.Y. Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Bill, Debate Shifts to Senate
    • N.Y. Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Bill. By Jeremy W. Peters. New York Times, May 12, 2009. At last report, bill was one vote short of passage in the Senate.
  41. LDS Healthcare CEO Kimball Speaks at HBS
    • Ranch Kimball and John Halamka at HBS. By Sarah Cortes. Inman Technology IT, May 13, 2009. Ranch Kimball, President and CEO of Joslin Diabetes Center and former Secretary of Economic Development under Governor Mitt Romney, spoke at an early morning Harvard Business School conference to over 100 leaders of industry.
  42. NY Times takes a look at the Church’s City Creek development
    • Overlooking the Mormon Temple, a New Center. By Linda Baker. New York Times, May 12, 2009. A private development of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, City Creek Center will be the largest mixed-use project in Salt Lake City. When completed in 2012, it will encompass 900,000 square feet of retailing, including an outdoor pedestrian shopping mall capped by 115 apartments; 1.6 million square feet of office space in eight buildings; a grocery store; and five residential towers with about 600 condominiums.
  43. American Indians Descended From Single Group
    • Native Americans Descended From a Single Ancestral Group, DNA Study Confirms. UCDavis News Release, April 28, 2009. After painstakingly comparing DNA samples from people in dozens of modern-day Native American and Eurasian groups, an international team of scientists thinks it can put the matter to rest: Virtually without exception the new evidence supports the single ancestral population theory.
  44. ‘Shy Guy’ Becomes Radio Star By Way of Football!
    • Former ’shy guy’ Poppinga unleashes lighter side off the field. By Scott Venci. Green Bay WI Press-Gazette. May 12, 2009. “I was a shy guy in high school,” says Brady Poppinga, a linebacker for Green Bay. But the shy kid went on an LDS mission to Uruguay for two years after high school and returned home a different man.
  45. Support a good cause, and give Lisa a mohawk.
    • fMh Fundraiser (UPDATED): lop my hair off and feed a child in Tanzania* By: fMhLisa. Feminist Mormon Housewives, May 11, 2009. Giving Lisa a mohawk *is* a good cause!
  46. LDS Convert taken by parents is found
    • Not kidnapped? LDS convert taken by parents is found. Police confirm safety, won’t take further action. By Steve Gehrke. The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/12/2009. A local detective was en route to Texas Tuesday to interview the 19-year-old LDS convert because deputies still fear Danielle “could be in a threatened circumstance or not being completely honest” since she is around her parents.
  47. LDS Church Says Could Not Have Known of Summers’ Molesting Teen
    • Defendants claim no knowledge of molestation. Church, property owners and parents say they had no reason to suspect teen was abused from 1992 to 2001. By Joseph Serna. Newport Beach CA Daily Pilot, May 11, 2009.
  48. LDS Real Estate Arm Donates Land, Construction worth $10 Million for “Impact Fee” Waviers
    • Alafaya Trail to get access to the BeachLine. By Dan Trac, Sentinel Staff Writer. Orlando FL Sentinel, May 11, 2009. Suburban Land Reserve Inc. will donate land and construction worth $10 million to build access road relieving traffic congestion in exchange for millions worth of impact fee waviers. The road would also improve acess to an industrial park the company owns.
  49. Romney slaps Steele over Mormon comments
    • Romney slaps Steele over Mormon comments. By Reid Wilson. The Hill, 05/11/09. “Sometimes when you shoot from the hip you miss the target. This is one of those times,” Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told The Hill.
  50. LDS Connections Used to Con Undocumented Immigrants
    • Victims face deportation. They testified against woman accused of scamming undocumented immigrants. By Sheena Mcfarland. The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/10/2009. Leticia Avila used her LDS Church connections… to con $4,000 apiece from undocumented immigrants attempting to get legal visas.
  51. OMGosh! Sam from iCarly is LDS!!
    • Queen of tweens by Denise Martin, Los Angeles Times. Provo Daily Herald, 11 May 2009. Jennette McCurdy, who plays Sam on Disney’s hit tweens show iCarly is LDS and appeared in the LDS mystery film for tweens Minor Details, which premiered at the LDS film festival in January.
  52. You Never Forget Your First Time
    • My First Time Going to LDS Church. Blog of Joned Rahadian, May 9, 2009. Rahadian attends the Annual District Conference of Surabaya and Malang in Indonesia.
  53. Woman kidnapped by parents after LDS conversion
    • Woman, 19, was possibly kidnapped by her parents: Father upset about her decision to join LDS. By Steve Gehrke. The Salt Lake Tribune, 05/11/2009. A 19-year-old University of Utah student was taken from her Holladay apartment Sunday — reportedly by her father who was upset that she had recently joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  54. Pope Bendict calls for a Palestinian state while visiting Israel
    • Pope in Israel calls for Palestinian homeland. By VICTOR L. SIMPSON/Associated Press Writer., 2009-05-11.
  55. Gallop Poll: Mormons Generally Approve of Obama
    • Poll: Mormons generally approve of Obama. By Steve Pierce. BYU Newsnet, 10 May 2009. “The president’s approval among Latter-day Saints at 45 percent, with 40 percent disapproving. This level of support is significantly lower than Obama receives from the poll’s other religious groups.
  56. Neighbors Don’t Want LDS Building
    • Wrath over church: Love thy neighbor? Congregation and residents collide over new building. by Gil Smart, Associate Editor. Lancaster PA Sunday News, May 10, 2009. East Hempfield neighbors object to LDS building, case going to Federal court.
  57. Thoughts from a Utah County Democrat
    • The Morality of Politics: The Challenges of Mormon Tribalism. by Boyd Peterson. Dead Wood and Rushing Waters, April 4, 2009. “Last year, I did something no sane person would do. I ran for the state legislature. In Utah county. As a Democrat.
  58. Nienie’s Story in the AZ Republic
    • Crash survivor learns to be mom again. by Jamiee Rose. The Arizona Republic, May. 9, 2009.
  59. Media Coverage of Pro 8 Called Blunder
    • Media Blunders in Covering California’s Prop 8. By David L. Wilkinson, May 08, 2009. Wilkinson, a former Utah Attorney General, is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Legal and Policy Center.
  60. Armstrong’s Ordeal
    • Mom blogger writes of ordeal: Forgoing depression medicine for baby drives narrative. from Los Angeles Times. Atlanta Journal and Constitution, May 10, 2009. Heather B. Armstrong ( is a former Mormon — the Times tells her story.
  61. If there’s sunshine in your heart, you can send a shining Ray, that will turn the night to day.
    • Pardon the Narcissism: A Limited Farewell to the Group Blogs. by Papa D. Things of My Soul, May 9, 2009. Godspeed in your new endeavor, friend, and hopefully we’ll still see you around from time to time.
  62. Many are cold, but few are frozen.
    • Freeze That Thought. By MARK BITTMAN. New York Times, May 5, 2009. “Just as the stove comes with a hidden and often overlooked bonus — the broiler — so does the refrigerator: the freezer. Why not use it?
  63. The cover of this month’s Mormon Bride magazine.
    • just for fun, my visual aid. by jeans. beginnings new, May 10, 2009. Local YW leader ‘fixes’ Modern Bride to make a point.
  64. Who is Larry EchoHawk?
    • Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs: Who is Larry EchoHawk? by Kyle Kuersten., May 10, 2009. A biographical overview of Obama’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.
  65. Beatboxing the gospel
    • Beatboxing the gospel. By Todd Eric Lovato. Local IQ, 07 May 2009. One-man hip hop phenom utilizes music, design to create a positive, productive message. “Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Freeman is a practicing Mormon and has a racially diverse background that includes a heavy dose of his mother’s Samoan roots. After many years of soul searching and a period of, what he refers to as being, “stupid and crazy,” Freeman is currently reuniting with his Mormon faith, which resonates on the new album.
  66. I’m famous! (And your mom can be, too!)
    • Parades Erupt Throughout Country to Celebrate One Amazing Mother’s Achievement. CNNBC, MAY 10, 2009. [Customized Happy Mother’s Day video]
  67. RNC Chair Steele says GOP base rejected Romney because of issues with his Mormonism
    • Steele Calls GOP Base Bigoted, Says They ‘Rejected’ Romney Because They Have ‘Issues With Mormonism.’ By Matt Corley. Think Progress 9 May 2009.
  68. Interior nominee EchoHawk pledges to work for Indian country
    • Interior nominee EchoHawk pledges to work for Indian country. By Erika Bolstad, McClatchy Newspapers. Miami Herald, 05.07.09. “I would see it as my responsibility to do everything I can to see that every American Indian and Alaska Native youth receives an opportunity for a quality education, and a good job and economic prosperity.

51 comments for “Notes From All Over – thru May 17

  1. #37,

    Bybee is in deep doodoo, and he knows it. But sadly, he will survive, and prove to future lawbreakers that they can lawbreak all they want and get away with it.

  2. Just want to add, Kent, the reason for the use of torture that Bybee approved. It was to find that link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. It was in reality, to elicit false confessions (that’s what torture is used for), of a connection between Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

    Remember, KSM was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003. And supposedly all torture stopped by 2004. Now, if we’re in constant threat of attack from Al-Qaeda and the only tool keeping them at bay is torture, why would that tool no longer be employed as early as 2004?

    Surely Bybee, smart man that he is, realizes that his employer asked him to rubber stamp torture so that they could elicit false confessions about connections between Saddam and Bin Laden.

  3. Off-topic, but I just want to thank Kent for all the work he put into the site, which content now has been adopted by the church as a tool for stake and ward clerks and assistants.

    Here is what the church’s LDSTech newsletter said a few days ago:

    Content from can now also be found at the LDSTech Wiki. For many years Kent Larsen of New York has funded and maintained a mailing list, discussion forum, and wiki for LDS clerks. We wish to extend our gratitude to this pioneer of clerk training and to the other long-time contributors to LDSClerks. Thank you all for generously donating all of the wiki content, more than 120 pages, to the LDSTech Wiki. This contribution is a great blessing to clerks around the world.

  4. I think you post this garbage to provoke me. I will say it again. Bybee is a modern day Captain Moroni. He is a real saint and a real man.

  5. Captain Moroni was no lawbreaker. Nor did he torture, or justify torture. There is no comparison. Frankly, I wish that Bybee was more like Captain Moroni. But sadly he wasn’t.

  6. no, no he isn’t. If he were courageous, he would not hide from standing for what he believes in front of Congress, come hell or high water.

  7. He is a real man. Why should anyone go in front of a Congress that has leaders like Nancy Pelosi? And heaven forbid Harry Reid! What a contrast– Bybee and Reid. Bybee any day over that coward Reid.

  8. I will stop here, aloysius. There’s no point continuing. You’re clearly getting aggravated, and I think we all would prefer better language.

  9. Re the “friends of Bybee” website (37), does anyone know who sponsors and funds that site? They are not identified, but the site is hosted and registered in Provo.

    The site is obviously a one-sided advocacy vehicle with a hard-right spin, similar in form and tone to the slick PR sites that crop up pro or con when there is a Supreme Court nomination battle. It’s fine for someone to express an opinion, just as we do here.

    But for a counterpoint, laying out much of what Bybee’s critics in the legal profession find wrong with the legal ethics of his torture opinions, see the testimony of Prof. David Luban of Georgetown University Law Center before a Senate hearing last week.

  10. Ross, I found out about the site through an email that I believe originated with those who are either funding or sponsoring the site.

    I replied telling them that I thought the site was a waste of time. It takes the wrong tack in defending Bybee and is likely only to make Bybee’s friends feel like someone is defending him. I don’t think it does anything to help his case or persuade the public that what he did is reasonable.

    To me that seems like a failure — unless you believe, as apparently some here do (Hi Dan), that Bybee’s case is indefensible.

  11. Why would anyone want to discuss Bybee when we know that the Sam character on iCarly is played by an LDS actress. That was definitely cool news for me.

    Sam is like Captain Moroni.

  12. Kent,

    Yes, his case is indefensible, and it is really because he is a sitting federal judge in a lifetime appointment. Whether or not he wrote those memos of his own free will or was ordered to write them makes no difference. If he wrote them himself without orders from those above him, then it shows a strong lack of insight, research, and knowledge about United States history on torture. One can then question whether he is worthy to sit as a judge over so many people. If he was ordered to write these memos, then even if he revealed that his bosses told him to write memos rubber stamping torture, he is still the one who put his name to these memos. Can we have such a person be a judge in a lifetime position? There’s just something totally wrong about that.

    If he comes clean about who ordered him to write those memos, he will be still asked (and maybe impeached) to step down. If he doesn’t, then it certainly looks like he has something to hide. Impeachment is far stronger an option.

    Either way, he made a very wrong choice back in 2002, and 2003 in writing those memos.

    Now, if he weren’t a federal judge over an Appellate Court, then probably my anger wouldn’t be as visceral against him. But it was clear to me back in 2003 when he got this position that it was a reward from Bush for what he did for Bush. My anger is equal toward John Yoo (probably even more, as this guy is not just unrepentant, but still out there publicly defending torture—he used to make an argument that if the President deemed it, it was okay to crush the private parts of children), but Yoo is a professor at Cal Berkeley. It is for the students and faculty of Cal Berkeley to decide to remove him (which they should do—he is teaching students a very perverted form of constitutional law!).

    But Bybee is a Federal Judge. If he were back at BYU teaching law, I wouldn’t make such a fuss. (maybe I would, but I don’t expect better from BYU these days). I’d make my one comment saying Bybee supported torture, and then he would fade away in anonymity and solitude. But he is not at BYU. He is a federal judge.

  13. Kent (13),

    I don’t think Bybee’s situation is absolutely “indefensible.” Obviously, he plans a defense against the ethics charges. There is a high bar for his accusers to meet in state disciplinary proceedings, and impreachment-with-conviction seem out of range politically.

    However, even without seeing the OPR ethics report that reportedly explores the interactions among Bybee and Yoo, the White House and the CIA, I think there is enough known just from the text of the two Bybee torture opinions themselves to know that the honorable course would be for him to resign. (See Prof. Luban’s remarks linked above.) In fact, I think Bybee should have resigned when the first of those secret opinions was disclosed almost five years ago.

    I believe that is what an honorable man who holds the priesthood should have done. His successor at the Justice Department had felt compelled to withdraw Bybee’s formal opinion — and several other opinions from that period — because they did not meet the standards of the Office of Legal Counsel, and Bybee obviously would not have been confirmed a year earlier if his secret torture opinion had been known.

    The primary “defense” of Bybee being mounted right now is purely political — the GOP’s “torture works and besides Pelosi knew about it” strategy, as if that somehow exonerates him. To the contrary, it compounds his dishonor. She and other congressional leaders, just like the entire executive branch, relied on the Justice Department’s word (that is, Bybee’s word) that the torture was deemed to be legal, even though the actual opinons were withheld from them. FWIW, as a moral issue, I think Pelosi should also pay a price for failing to object. But as a legal matter, doing something unlawful and telling Nancy Pelosi about it did not make it lawful.

    This web site is just part of that political battle.

  14. “Judge not lest ye be judged” falls easily from left wing lips on all challenges to morality except for offenses against left wing principles which usually are defined as “actions that currently are out of favor with leftwingers”.

    Babies being murdered every day by funds released by Harry Reid. No big deal. Bybee protected us and it took manhood to do it. Now that is really offensive.

  15. Kent,

    Let me share with you something else. Let me attempt to put in perspective what Judge Bybee rubber stamped. Marcy Wheeler at Emptywheel has done a fabulous job of reporting on this particular issue, including the one linked. She highlights what happened to a particular detainee who died at Bagram Base in Afghanistan.

    One of the most shocking quotes from the Senate Armed Services Committee torture report came from Jonathan Fredman, then the Counsel for CounterTerrorism Center at CIA, now working for the Director of National Intelligence, told some interrogators at Gitmo, “It is basically subject to perception. If the detainee dies you’re doing it wrong.” Fredman is reported to have said that on October 2, 2002. A month later, on November 1, 2002, the staff JAG for a Special Ops unit in Bagram judged there was a risk to participating in CIA interrogations; “we are at risk as we get more ‘creative’ and stray from standard interrogation techniques and procedures taught at DoD and DA schools and detailed in official interrogation manuals.” A month after that, two prisoners at Bagram died as a result of torture; Habibullah on December 3 and Dilawar on December 9 or 10.

    As she notes, this is not news, and was reported back in 2002 and onwards. I remember those incidents. The gloves were indeed taken off, and detainees were murdered by our CIA officers. She quotes, however, from the report on those murders, something which ties it back to Bybee:

    In December 2002, two detainees were killed while detained by CITF-180 at Bagram. Though the techniques do not appear to have been included in any written interrogation policy at Bagram, Army investigators concluded that the use of stress positions and sleep deprivation combined with other mistreatment at the hands of Bagram personnel, caused or were direct contributing factors in the two homicides. 1174 In the wake ofthe deaths of Habibullah and Dilawar, CITF-180 and the SMU TF began developing written standard operating procedures (SOPs) for interrogations.

    Stress positions and sleep deprivation used in combination with other mistreatment caused the deaths of these detainees. This highlights how poorly written Bybee’s memos are (because he wasn’t ordered to really make a treatment on torture, but just to rubber stamp them). See, in his memos, he stated, circularly, that the CIA tells him the techniques are not harmful to the detainees, therefore, Bybee concludes they are not harmful. But Bybee doesn’t consider carefully that if you combine the techniques (which most certainly the CIA was doing, and were going to continue to do), you will do permanent harm, heck, even “organ failure”—Bybee’s original definition of torture (his August 2002 memo since discredited).

    Marcy continues the logical conclusion. Sleep deprivation isn’t just keeping someone up with loud music or coming in and shaking the detainee to keep him up all night. No, it is:

    Rather, “sleep deprivation” is the excuse for shackling prisoners, in the case of Dilawar, hanging him from the ceiling by his arms.

    That October 8, 2004 criminal investigation report, then, was effectively an admission that the “sleep deprivation,” as practiced, combined with other harsh treatment (in the case of Dilawar, extensive beatings to his legs while he was hanging from his arms), could kill.

    Shackling prisoners, hanging them from the ceiling in just the right position so that any attempt at nodding off will be hurtful to their arms or legs, and that keeps them up. It ended up in the death of a couple of detainees (and probably more that have not been accounted for yet). This was what the CIA meant by “Sleep Deprivation.” But this is not what they told Bybee when he asked them. They told him it was something nice that you might do your friend. It wasn’t hurtful. It wasn’t going to do lasting damage.

    Kent, Bybee has failed morally to stand for what is right when it counted, and heck, even now. He fails to do so. These actions by the CIA are not right, are not moral, and are not in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or heck, the morals of the United States of America. And he wants to continue on as a taxpayer financed federal judge? Hell no!

  16. aloysiusmiller (19),

    If your rant is directed at me, it is quite off base. By no means are my politics “left wing.” In fact, for me this is not primarily a left-right political issue at all, but one of the rule of law.

    There is nothing “conservative” about abetting felonies or violating legal ethics. Quite the contrary. Legal conservatives traditionally revere the rule of law and institutional ethics. Bybee violated those lawful norms, and did great damage to the very machinery of the law while in a position of trust at DOJ.

    I don’t see him as Captain Moroni at all, but as a member of a secret combination. Now exposed, he should resign.

  17. Dan (14) and Ross (18), I didn’t mean to imply that I thought Bybee was indefensible. I AM trying to say that, IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION, the torture memos are indefensible.

    Bybee can defend himself by claiming that the memos are the direct orders of his superiors and that he was put into a difficult position, from which the memos were the only way out.

    I just don’t think Bybee’s friends should be trying to defend the torture memos on their website.

  18. Kent (22): Bybee can defend himself by claiming that the memos are the direct orders of his superiors and that he was put into a difficult position, from which the memos were the only way out.

    Actually that would be no legal defense at all, and hence no moral defense. In Bybee’s position as head of the Office of Legal Counsel, he was not supposed to be following orders at all, but rendering an independent and objective legal opinion.

    In this case, that would have meant telling the president “no.” Does anyone believe that if Bybee had done that he would have received his coveted judicial appointment? He acted according to his interests, and issued the secret opinions that could not stand up in the light of day when the secret combination was exposed.

  19. Ross (23), I’m NOT suggesting that it is a legal defense. I am suggesting that this defense works better politically than claiming that the torture memos are correct.

  20. Sorry, Aloysius, I don’t think this article says what you say it does.

    I didn’t see anything in the article that says that harsh techniques are needed.

  21. aloysiusmiller (24): …advancing the need for harsh techniques …

    Which is entirely beside the point about Bybee’s ethical performance as a lawyer and the legal culpability of any number of persons in this scandal.

    Sorry. You can have whatever sophomoric, dorm-room bull sessions you want about whether torture and cruel treatment are a good idea.

    But as a matter of law — it’s all about the law — our nation has already settled that argument: We ratified the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention Against Torture (promoted and signed by that famous “lefist,” Ronald Reagan). We also enacted the Torture Act and the War Crimes Act (cosponsored by that famous “leftist” Jesse Helms), which together make felonies out of torture, as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and conspiracy to commit such acts.

    Criminalizing Torture — Not Just a Good Idea, It’s the Law

  22. It’s worse than that, Ross, the Bush administration used torture to try and find that false connection between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. They waterboarded KSM 183 times in March 2003. The detainees at Gitmo were interrogated over ties between Al-Qaeda and Iraq.

    All of this comes because we renditioned a guy named al-Libi to Egypt to be tortured in December 2001. Under torture, specifically waterboarding, al-Libi said Iraq and Al-Qaeda had connections. He of course was lying, telling the Egyptians what he thought they wanted to hear. The Bush administration, upon learning that waterboarding gave them exactly what they wanted to hear said, “you know what, forget this rendition stuff, let’s do this ourselves and see what we get.” They waterboarded Zubaydah in 2002 and didn’t get the connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq that they wanted to hear. They waterboarded him 86 times. He told them wild and fancy things, but never considered giving them Iraq, because it just wasn’t true. Then they captured KSM on March 1, 2003. Considering that Bush wanted to invade Iraq that month, the CIA dispensed with the rapport-building that usually happens in proper interrogation and waterboarded him 183 times in March 2003. The Bush administration desperately wanted a senior Al-Qaeda official to confess to a connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq. It would make the Iraq war justified, instead of the illegal war it was.

    They tortured to try and find a connection that never existed.

  23. oh, and if the use of torture was indeed to “protect America” then why would they stop the use of torture by 2003? There is no indication in any reports that from 2004 onward the CIA employed torture. It seems they stopped torture by the time it was no longer important to justify invading Iraq…

  24. We as a nation was ready to beat maim kill whatever it took to whoever was around after 9-11. Were they wrong to torture yes but we wanted vengeance more than anything else in 2002 and 2003 and very few were willing to go public in speaking out for the detainees rights. The democrats in congress wanted heads to roll for allowing this to happen and now they want heads to roll for the reaction to the pressure they applied. I do not agree to the means used but I certainly understand that where pressure is applied people do not always react as they would outside of the pressure cooker. To ignore that we as a nation demanded idiot Bush and Cheney to do something and now trying to criminalize the decisions and for doing what the public wanted done is just as ridiculous.

    How many times they were pounded for ignoring 1 line in 1 threat assessment? I have seen good people make bad decisions with a lot less pressure than this. I think the magnitude of their mistakes is dwarfed by the magnitude of the public pressure to use whatever means necessary to prevent this from happening again. I really think we (as a nation) got what we asked for. Just watch 24 and then read the viewers reactions to it.

    No excuse to keep doing it though and trying to take whatever steps we can to prevent it is also good but in a similar situation expect the rules to be thrown out and the same type of thing to hapeen again. Hopefully we elect more less reactionary people in the future.

  25. Jerry (30) : To ignore that we as a nation demanded idiot Bush and Cheney to do something and now trying to criminalize the decisions and for doing what the public wanted done is just as ridiculous.

    The flaw in that argument is that torture was, literally, criminalized years before 9/11 when the statutes were passed. Decisions made in violation of existing criminal law were not just “decisions,” they were crimes.

    There was no exception in that statute that said, “It’s okay to torture if that’s what the public wants done.”

    You are describing political expediency driven by fear and by the mob, which is what the law is there to prevent. It was certainly not Bybee’s duty to follow public opinion; it was his duty as a Justice Department official to declare what the law required. He failed in that duty, and he should resign.

  26. When we demand our leaders do something or we will get rid of them you should continue to look for rules to be reviewed and overwritten with new arguments how do you think this country actually works? What are elections for?

    The fact is very few of the Middle East countries consider anything we did to the detainees as torture when they want information out of someone in their custody. So it isn’t hard to find reason to redefine this as allowable. We like to think we are above this but clearly they did what most countries would do and what they wanted to do and most sadly what we wanted them to. My point is they acted on our national anger.

  27. Jerry (32) : My point is they acted on our national anger.

    I understand that is your point.

    But Bybee’s duty in that Justice Department job, just as in his current job as a judge, was not to “act on our national anger.” It was to apply the law. That duty required him to say “No. The law is the law.” He failed in that duty, and he should resign.

  28. Jerry,

    If the Bush administration should not be punished for breaking the law because America was angry, then anyone who is angry and kills someone else should not be punished under the law. Anger means little if nothing in law. As Ross noted, America had already decided before 9/11 that torture was illegal and immoral for this nation. If Bush and his cohorts felt they needed to employ torture to protect America, then by all means, change the law! Get it passed through Congress, and make it legal. But don’t do it in the shadows where the law has no hold!

    The reason Bush and his supporters wanted torture to be kept secret is because they all knew it was illegal, and they knew they could not change the law to make it legal, because that would just be ludicrous. So they willfully broke the law and then attempted to cover up their crimes.

  29. Jerry,

    As I said before, we as a nation already committed in advance — by formal adoption of the U.N. Convention Against Torture and anactment of implementing statutes — that events such as 9/11 absolutely could not be used to justify torture.

    Here is what Article 2, Paragraph 2 of that treaty says:

    No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

    There is no exception for getting angry.

  30. We as a nation are willing to kill millions of babies a year because they are inconvenient to our life style. I can’t cry about the rough handling of a few murderous thugs who were plotting to kills thousands and who woulk like to kill millions.

    Bybee is a hero and a saint.

  31. Jerry,

    Aloysiusmiller obviously provides a case in point about unrighteous anger. (Thanks for the object lesson, BTW)

    But even when there are enough such angry people to make up a national mob, those in trusted positions of authority are supposed to enforce the law.

    It was Bybee’s job to apply the law, mob or no mob. He breached the public trust and failed in his legal duty. He should resign.

  32. Ross thank goodness for morally superior people who can apply the word “unrighteous” with such clarity and accuracy.

    Bybee is a saint.

  33. aloysiusmiller,

    Achieving clarity is really not difficult in this case. At the point when anger leads someone to break the law, as you seem to favor, it is unambiguously unrighteous.

    There is no doubt that torture is against the law. Bybee’s job at the Justice Department was to protect the nation from your kind of anger — to say, “No. We can’t do that. It is against the law.”

    He failed in his duty as a lawyer and an official with an important public trust, and should resign.

  34. Ross, he helped save the country. He is a courageous man and he is a saint.

  35. aloysiusmiller,

    I have seen no evidence of courage in Bybee’s behavior. I have seen circumstantial evidence of corrupt self-interest:

    1) He interviewed with Alberto Gonzales in 2001 to seek appointment to a judicial appointment on the Ninth Circuit.

    2) Gonzales said that there was no vacancy on the court yet, but asked Bybee to take the key Justice Department job first.

    3) Bybee and the office under his supervision then bent the law to rubber-stamp the White House program — not only including torture, but also illegal surveillance, which had been approved before Bybee arrived but continued during his tenure. Their secret opinions also adopted a breathtaking theory that the president could disregard the law if he chose — the threshold of tyranny in violation of our Constitution’s separation of powers.

    4) As an apparent reward, Bybee got the judical nomination, and was confirmed before those secret opinions were disclosed.

    That is certainly not a story of moral courage. It is the story of a secret combination corrupting the judgment seat itself.

  36. Ross,

    Aloysius is a troll on this issue. He has nothing of substance to add. He will keep on repeating “Bybee is a saint” because that’s the only thing he can say. Don’t feed this troll.

  37. Dan,

    I know he is a troll. But he is an incompetent troll who happens to be representative of a lot of wrongheaded opinion out there. (People need not even read the “friends of Bybee” web site. The troll’s comments encapsulate its propaganda perfectly.)

    Those comments actually have provided me an opportunity to lay out many of the issues about Bybee, which otherwise would have required a single long blog post to explain.

    So if aloysiusmiller did not exist, I would wish that someone invent him. I have no delusion that he will ever be persuaded. But as the archetype of mindless propaganda on this matter, he is a useful tool.

  38. Ad hominem attacks are just fine if they are aimed in the right direction.

    Bybee is a saint.

  39. aloysiusmiller,

    Thanks again for the opportunity to discuss Bybee in context.

    Just as an aside to you, an ad hominem attack evades the substance of an argument while attacking the source. In your case there is no substantive argument at all, just your own ipse dixit attestations about Bybee’s character. Since you are your only source for those attestations, pointing out your own lack of credibility is quite fair.

    Meanwhile, let’s return to your wholly unsupported claim that Bybee was “courageous.” I have already explained above how the circumstances of his employment show the very opposite pattern. Now let’s look at an example what real moral courage by Justice Department lawyers in his position looked like:

    When Bybee’s successor at OLC — Jack Goldsmith, a solidly conservative Republican lawyer — saw all those secret legal opinions, he was aghast at many of them. He rescinded Bybee’s torture memo to the White House, and several other secret memos we haven’t even seen yet. One of those opinions supported the early version of an NSA surveillance program, which Goldsmith found to be illegal.

    OLC chief Goldsmith, and his solidly conservative superiors (Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, who was critically hopitalized at the time, and Deputy Atty. Gen. James Comey) dramatically confronted the White House over it in 2004. They, FBI Director William Mueller and more than 20 other senior Justice Department lawyers all threatened to resign if the program remained in effect. Bush backed down and modified the program. (To this day, we don’t know the details of what that egregiously illegal surveillance program actually was, but it had been operating from late 2001 through March 2004.)

    That was moral courage. Bybee apparently had none of it. He just went along in secret and got his lifetime appointment to the bench.

  40. A calm correction to my 1:35 p.m. comment: It should have read “FBI Director Robert Mueller,” not William.

  41. Kent,
    I know this is a more recent note, but isn’t Bachman still LDS? I thought it was his son who left the church.
    Wikipedia isn’t much help to me here, but my understanding is that Randy Bachman is still a practicing member.

  42. Tim, I remember reading somewhere a few years ago that Randy followed Tal out of the Church. Proximate cause was DNA and the Book of Mormon.

    I was very disappointed to learn this, which is probably why it stuck in my mind, I think. I like Bachman, and read a biography several years ago. He has a great story, and I’ve always felt that the LDS community has never given him the attention he deserved, given his notariety.

  43. Kent,

    I recommend you watch “Taxi to the Dark Side” and see exactly what Bybee authorized. Just know, the documentary holds nothing back and can be very disturbing. Dark Side indeed.

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