Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that Jay Bybee, who as head of the Office of Legal Counsel signed controversial memos about detainee interrogation, has “private regrets” about having done so. As I noted, the Post’s story was ambiguous, and in places contradictory, about the nature of those regrets.
Judge Bybee has responded to this report by stating that he stands by legal the conclusions reached in the interrogation memos. In a statement published in part by the New York Times (and reported here by the Post), Bybee said:
The central question for lawyers was a narrow one; locate, under the statutory definition, the thin line between harsh treatment of a high-ranking Al Qaeda terrorist that is not torture and harsh treatment that is. I believed at the time, and continue to believe today, that the conclusions were legally correct.
The legal question was and is difficult and the stakes for the country were significant no matter what our opinion. In that context, we gave our best, honest advice, based on our good-faith analysis of the law.