Former Senator Bob Kerrey took to USA Today last week to criticize the Senate torture report and defend the intelligence professionals who tortured prisoners after 9/11.
"It is important for all of us to remember how unprepared we were for the attacks," he declared, "and how unprepared we were to do the things necessary to keep the country from being attacked again. There was no operating manual to guide the choices and decisions made by the men and women in charge of protecting us."
He is dead wrong.
The men and women in charge of protecting Americans had numerous operating manuals to guide their choices and decisions. One was the United States Constitution. Another was the duly ratified treaty that forbids America from engaging in torture. There were, as well, all the statutes applicable to interrogations, the Geneva Convention, and interrogation rules in the Army Field Manual.
All these frameworks and rules were adopted or written precisely to be like a manual to guide future choices and decisions. Some were understood, by virtual consensus, to apply no matter what happened. And interrogators like Ali Soufan successfully interrogated high-level Al Qaeda terrorists while staying true to all of them.