Chris Preble has nicely detailed the reasons we should not torture. The practice offers no guarantee of good information, harms America’s international reputation, and sacrifices the values that set this nation apart.
Now comes a report that Judge Jay S. Bybee, the head of the Bush adminsitration Office of Legal Counsel who signed off on the infamous torture memos, regrets his role in the matter. According to the Washington Post:
“I’ve heard him express regret at the contents of the memo,” said a fellow legal scholar and longtime friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity while offering remarks that might appear as “piling on.” “I’ve heard him express regret that the memo was misused. I’ve heard him express regret at the lack of context — of the enormous pressure and the enormous time pressure that he was under. And anyone would have regrets simply because of the notoriety.”
That notoriety worsened this week as the documents — detailing the acceptable application of waterboarding, “walling,” sleep deprivation and other procedures the Bush administration called “enhanced interrogation methods” — prompted calls from human rights advocates and other critics for criminal investigations of the government lawyers who generated them.
This regret could reflect convenient timing — after all, the torture stories have not exactly enhanced Bybee’s reputation. But it might also demonstrate a sobering realization as to how his opinions were used or misused. As a believer in human redemption, I’m going to play the optimist and go with the latter for now.