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Richard Cohen at the Washington Post has some deep thoughts about torture:

But where I reserve a soupçon of doubt is over the question of whether “enhanced interrogation techniques” actually work. That they do not is a matter of absolute conviction among those on the political left, who seem to think that the CIA tortured suspected terrorists just for the hell of it.


Actually, Dick, if you devote even a fraction of your attention, you’ll notice that most American critics of the War on Terror as practiced by the most recent Administration are highly in favor of making public as much information as possible, as they are primarily concerned with determining who authorized the torture, and when, and why, and what the practical effects of those decisions have been — which sort of undercuts your two propositions that

A) critics of the torture already know why it was done, and

B) the focus of this criticism is directed at the CIA agents who performed these acts, rather than at the Administration officials who called for them.

As to A), the running theories are that

a) the Bush Administration comprised a gang of sadistic imps who were simply too inept to allow intelligence professionals to perform their jobs in the manner in which they had been trained, and

b) the Bush Administration believed that if they could extract some bogus confessions indicating collusion between an Afghanistan-centric Al-Qaeda and a nuclear-enabled Iraq, they could bolster their bogus case for an expanded war.

Naturally, while these theories  do complement one another, they are nonetheless mere running theories, so they beg for further information which may alter our understanding as said information arises. Which is why the hell we are having this discussion.