"Death is worse than torture, but everyone except pacifists thinks there are circumstances in which war is justified. War means killing people. If we are entitled to kill people, we must be entitled to injure them. I don't see how it can be reasonable to have an absolute prohibition on torture when you don't have an absolute prohibition on killing. Reasonable people will disagree about when torture is justified. But that, in some circumstances, it is justified seems to me to be just moral common sense. How could it be better that 10,000 or 50,000 or a million people die than that one person be injured?" - John Yoo, defending the torture he helped legalize under Bush.
Yoo also seemed to confirm that waterboarding has been used by the Bush administration and is still being used:
"Does water-boarding (inducing the perception of drowning in someone to make him talk) inflict serious pain?" Yoo asks. "I doubt that the CIA thinks that it does ... or that it is going to stop using the technique, if the stakes are high enough." So despite the new law, the old tactics will be available? "I think so. And more important, so do they ..."
Marty Lederman comments here. Yoo seems completely unaware of just war theory. There is an obvious distinction between the killing necessary in a just war - killing that should nonetheless be minimized and directed solely at legitimate military targets - and torturing defenseless detainees who are already under your complete control. With Yoo, one is tempted to wonder what is worse: his ignorance of basic moral concepts, his support for any means necessary against terrorism, his empowrement at the highest levels of the Bush administration, or the completely dispassionate way in which he discusses the most horrifying acts of sadism and cruelty. One day, we must find a way to bring this war criminal to justice.
(Photo of John Yoo, chief architect of the Bush torture policy, by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty.)