Open Mic: John Yoo, Torture, & Christian Ethics


Yesterday I wrote about how Catholicism views the idea of torture and how a possible response to it and it’s socio-political effects can be found in the Eucharist.  That article was written because the idea of Torture has come front and center in the political discourse once more.  For those not keeping track of the current political climate concerning the previous administration, John Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley that was given the charge by the Bush administration and the CIA to define the nature and limits of “enhanced interrogation techniques“. He along with Jay Bybee authored the famous “torture memos” which gave legal justification for the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other techniques in order to get information from suspected terrorists.

Last year, the Office of Professional Responsibility wrote a report finding the two men guilty of professional misconduct and recommended the Justice Department do a full investigation. Ealier this month, both Bybee and Yoo were officially cleared of all wrongdoing in the eyes of the Department of Justice. Further, the DOJ strongly suggested that no further investigation nor disciplinary action from the bar should be sought. Last week the Department officially closed its investigation. Yesterday, the top ethicist of the Department of Justice said that not only did Yoo and Bybee do nothing criminal, but neither did they even act unethically. (Full summary of the metanarrative of all of this can be found here.)

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Catholicism on Torture, the State, & the Eucharist


I know, I know — this seems like a weird topic to inaugurate this series. Today, in my ongoing series “Catholics Aren’t Crazy” I wanted to put up a post on a Catholic view of Scripture, inspiration, and inerrancy. They have some amazing things to say on these topics that Evangelicals could do really well to embrace. But alas, current events have changed that plan. Tomorrow I’m posting up a potentially controversial article here on a Christian view of Torture. I’m writing it in light of the recent developments, publications, and interviews concerning the legal and ethical exoneration of the “Torture Memo” authors, John Yoo and Jay Bybee. In my research I stumbled upon the following wonderful article by Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, posted on his blog on Ash Wednesday:

“May the Judgment Not Be Too Heavy Upon Us” — The Daily Dish

The article concerns Marc Thiessen, former speech writer for President Bush. Thiessen is on a tour of every news outlet it seems (I’ve seen him on like four different ones just this past week) to promote his brand new book, Courting Disaster, the point of which is pretty much as follows: Our “enhanced interrogation” techniques were moral, effective, and NOT torture; and President Obama has ended them, thereby “inviting the next attack” and putting everyone in America at risk of being slaughtered by Islamic extremists.

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