Captain Ed has a great post based on the ABC news interview with the guy, John Kiriakou, who actually did waterboard Abu Zubaydah and is glad he did it and calls it torture.
I’m with the Captain. If Congress wants to bring it up, and they should, then they should determine what is and isn’t torture and whether it’s going to be allowed and in what circumstances IF allowed. And none of this “making it illegal but if it ends up helping then we’ll let the torturer off” sort of thing.
Kiriakou also believes that the national dialogue on the technique has been good and necessary. The decision to use this technique should come as part of policy, not as a violation of it. Congress had attached language to the omnibus spending bill outlawing it for the CIA (it already is outlawed for the Department of Defense), but the revelation that Nancy Pelosi and other critics failed to object after being briefed on the use of the waterboard has slowed the push to forbid the procedure.
Bottom line: if we outlaw the procedure, it should not be with the understanding that someone can order its use and that Congress will forgive it later, depending on the circumstances. If those who propose that as a solution believe that certain circumstances warrant its use, then they should write laws that allow it — and keep men like Kiriakou from having to determine whether to follow what amounts to an illegal order. If this Congress outlaws waterboarding, they will have the responsibility for the potential intel loss that it creates, and the damage that loss eventually does.