CIA Director Michael V. Hayden admitted, in his February testimony before Congress, that the Central Intelligence Agency used a technique known as waterboarding on three high-profile Al Qaeda detainees. He also said the CIA had not used the technique in five years -- though the administration seems to be asserting that the agency can use it, when necessary.
President George W. Bush told ABC News in April, "I'm aware our national-security team met on this issue. And I approved.” The president was referring to reports that the National Security Council’s “principals committee” -- the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense, the head of the NSC and the CIA director -- discussed and approved the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking with Google employees in Mountain View, Calif., in May, said, “after Sept. 11, whatever was legal in the face of not just the attacks of Sept. 11, but the anthrax attacks that happened, we were in an environment in which saving America from the next attack was paramount.” She added, “there has been a long evolution in American policy about detainees and about interrogations...we now have in place a law that was not there in 2002 and 2003.”
In just the last few weeks, a parade of White House, Defense Dept. and CIA lawyers have squirmed before hostile Congressional committees, giving testimony eerie in its clinical treatment of what most of the world thinks is torture. The hearings produced countless stunning quotes, but one attributed to a CIA lawyer stands out: "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong."
Indeed, they have been doing it wrong. But they all say they are doing it for us -- for the protection of the American people.
If that was the motivation, no thanks. No one has to be tortured to keep anyone safe.