Today on Uncommon Knowledge, former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo, the author, just months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, of a now-famous memorandum in which he set out legal justification for “enhanced interrogation.”
What I have said, and what I will repeat, is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture.
Under the previous administration [that is, the Bush administration] it was the view of the government and the Justice Department that it was not torture. . . . The problem is that Congress passed a law prohibiting torture, and all it did was say that torture is the intentional infliction of severe physical pain or suffering — that was it. It did not list anything about what qualified as torture and what was not torture. There are some people who think that keeping someone in solitary confinement is torture. The hard thing for a lawyer to figure out was, well, What is inside and what is outside the line?