Bret Stephens, the deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal and recipient of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, is a fundamentally bad person, as he explains in his newspaper column today.
Stephens—cited by the Pulitzer committee for his "incisive columns on American foreign policy and domestic politics, often enlivened by a contrarian twist"—has published a column today entitled "I Am Not Sorry the CIA Waterboarded." There's that trademark contrarian twist again, along with an admission of moral bankruptcy that you must admire for its forthrightness, but not as much as you despise it for its content.
Just a few of the things for which clear-eyed American Bret Stephens is sorry, or not:
I am sorry [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was waterboarded 183 times]remains alive nearly 12 years after his capture. He has been let off far too lightly. As for his waterboarding, it never would have happened if he had been truthful with his captors. It stopped as soon as he became cooperative. As far as I'm concerned, he waterboarded himself.
Human life—something to be sorry for.
I am not sorry that President Obama has ordered drone strikes on hundreds of terrorist suspects hiding in Pakistan, Yemen and other places. I am not sorry he has done so despite the fact that the strikes inevitably have killed hundreds and perhaps thousands of their associates, many of whom were either innocent of wrongdoing or had committed no crime deserving of death from 30,000 feet. This is the nature of war.
The taking of human life—not something to be sorry for.
I am sorry that Mr. Cheney, and every other supporter of enhanced interrogation techniques, has to defend the practices as if they were torture. They are not. Waterboarding is part of the military's standard course in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE. Tens of thousands of U.S. servicemen have gone through it. To describe this as "torture" is to strip the word of its meaning.
Though countless people who have actually undergone waterboarding say that it is torture, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist Bret Stephens disagrees. Though even a child has enough natural moral sense to feel sadness at the loss of human life, newspaper columnist Bret Stephens does not.
That's just the sort of contrarian twist the Pulitzer committee loves.