In the New York Times must-read on the the harebrained Bush Administration efforts to assemble a torture program, you see some form of the rationalization that “it’s easy to look back now,” or the “ticking time bomb defense” used to defend torture policy. For example:
If they shunned interrogation methods some thought might work, and an undetected bomb or bioweapon cost thousands of lives, where would the moral compass point today? It is a question that still haunts some officials. Others say that if they had known the full history of the interrogation methods or been able to anticipate how the issue would explode, they would have advised against using them.
I’m not going to wade into the murky moral waters of events that never happened, but I will take the opportunity to point out that well before institutionalized torture became a feature of U.S. national security policy, the intelligence community was capable of putting together an August 2001 report presciently titled, “Bin Laden determined to Strike in US,” which was summarily ignored by George Bush.