I was wondering how the pro-torture right would respond to the newest revelation that the torture technique designed to facilitate the instant "truth" from suspects within 20 seconds was nonetheless used on Zubaydah 83 times. Let us recall that a huge amount of information had already been retrieved from Zubaydah using the legal interrogation methods that the US relied upon for two centuries before Bush and Cheney. Most CIA agents were convinced he was not as high up as Bush had said publicly and did not believe he had anything more to tell. In the end, they were right:
[T]he harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said. Even for those who believed that brutal treatment could produce results, the official said, “seeing these depths of human misery and degradation has a traumatic effect.”
No nuclear ticking time bomb. Just an absence of usable intelligence. So they tortured and tortured, before ordering up transparently bad faith legal memos to provide retroactive legal cover. Most of the major voices on the bloggy right are currently silent, which is their last-ditch defense when their "we do not torture" bluff is called. But some are opining:
What are the benefits of such a disclosure? Transparency for Al Qaeda? There are no benefits for American national security, which is the primary Constitutional charge assigned to the President. Military and intelligence personnel will be frozen, knowing that any decision -- at headquarters or in the field -- could be politicized by left-wing radicals bent on destroying America. The inevitable results: lawsuits; politicization of defense and intelligence activities; and -- I am sorry to say -- additional catastrophic attacks on America.
Notice that the blogger actually does not know the presidential oath which is about defending the constitution of the United States, a task made impossible when the commander-in-chief is secretly authorizing illegal war crimes and covering them up.
But watching as Bush-defenders have to keep defending, even as they abandon every previous position they held, until they are telling us to ignore acts that in any other country by any other government would have the US invoking Geneva and the UN Convention, is to watch how democracies die.
Watching one human being under the waterboard is grueling. Watching that individual with nothing more to say be waterboarded 83 times in one month must have been grotesque, demanding a level of sadism or callousness we usually see only in authoritarian or totalitarian regimes. And the process of torture was so grotesque, in fact, that John Rizzo, physically destroyed all the taped evidence. But, as Peggy Noonan insists,
"Sometimes you need to just keep walking."
The next time an American is tortured by a foreign regime, remember those words.