Drum analyzes Obama's torture answer and wonders if Obama is saying that we got some information from torture:
Obama has obviously seen all the internal reports by now, and he's carefully not saying that waterboarding didn't work. This suggests that it may indeed have produced useful information...fter a bit of throat clearing toward the end of his answer, he says he's seen nothing that "would make me second-guess the decision that I've made" to ban waterboarding. Which might suggest either that waterboarding produced only moderate amounts of useful information, or that he's convinced we could have gotten the same information with other methods.
I'm pretty sure it's the latter. But what's depressing to me is how these techniques have somehow managed to divide the West on an issue that could easily have been avoided. I have written more these past two years about Abu Zubaydah and Khaled Sheikh Muhammed as victims of torture as opposed to perpetrators of terror. Magnify that across all fronts and you can see what a terrible waste of resources it is in a war in which we need to be constantly on the offensive, on all fronts, including p.r.
One reason for a comprehensive Truth Commission with a remit of a couple of years to pull all this together is that it would allow us to focus again on the core needs of defense, serious intelligence gathering and winning the public relations war against jihadism. Instead we are embroiled in an unavoidable and wrenching debate about the evil of torture; and it is hard not to believe that the CIA is demoralized because of this process. This is no one's fault but Bush's and Cheney's. But it hurts us all nonetheless.