President Donald Trump has nominated Steven Bradbury, one of the architects behind the legal justification for enhanced interrogation during the George W. Bush administration, to be general counsel of transportation.
Bradbury was previously tapped by President Bush in 2008 to be the assistant attorney general but was blocked, in large part, due to his now-notorious 2005 memo regarding his defense of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” He currently works for Dechert LLP as a litigation partner.
As one of the three authors of the so-called “torture memos,” Bradbury crafted the legal justification behind waterboarding, dietary manipulation and cramped confinement, among other interrogation techniques used by the CIA after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The “panic brought on by the waterboard during the very limited time it is actually administered,” Bradbury argued, “could not be said to amount to the ‘prolonged mental harm.'”
Department of Justice officials John Yoo and Jay Bybee, in conjunction with Bradbury, laid out the legal limits of interrogation during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars after Sept. 11. The practices outlined in these memos were central in guiding the CIA’s interrogation efforts after 9/11, and lasted until the end of George W. Bush’s presidency.
The memos were not distributed publicly and did not become public knowledge until early 2009, at the insistence of the Obama administration. President Obama determined that release of the memos was required by law.
The White House listed Bradbury’s experience with automotive safety and airline competition issues, as well as his litigation background at Dechert in nominating him to the position of general counsel at transportation.