"I am absolutely convinced (banning waterboarding) was the right thing to do," said President Obama at a recent press conference, "not because there might not have been information that was yielded by these various detainees who were subjected to this treatment, but because we could have gotten this information in other ways (emphasis added), in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are."
Once upon a time, critics of the Bush administration's alleged used of "torture" often argue that it simply does not work. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, once said, "Experts agree that you do not obtain reliable intelligence through using these tactics and you diminish our reputation in the world, which hurts the cooperation we need to collect the intelligence we need to protect the American people."
Over the objection of his CIA director, the President publicly released the so-called torture memos. They described the allegedly abusive interrogation techniques used by the Bush administration. But the President's national intelligence director, Adm. Dennis Blair, recently wrote a memo to his staff. "High value information," he wrote, "came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country." When Blair's memo was released, that quote had been deleted.
The Blair memo also said, "I like to think I would not have approved those methods in the past, but I do not fault those who made the decisions at that time (emphasis added), and I will absolutely defend those who carried out the interrogations within the orders they were given." Not exactly string 'em up, trial to follow. The document release also deleted that quote.
The CIA recently said it stands by a 2005 Justice Department memo on "enhanced interrogation" techniques -- including waterboarding -- used on al-Qaida leader and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which caused him to reveal information that allowed the government to thwart another attack. This 9/11-style attack -- called the "second wave" -- planned to crash a hijacked plane into a building in Los Angeles.