The detail and array of facts assembled in the piece -- and the indisputable conclusion -- suggest two things:
First, at least some in the press (and the CIA) have decided that the Holder inquiry, investigating and possibly prosecuting CIA agents who obtained such information, is a bridge too far. The piece is a preemptive defense.
Second, it leaves the opponents of enhanced interrogation techniques with only one last argument: That the same information could have been obtained with less coercive measures. And even that attack loses its luster; given KSM's history and earlier refusals to talk, that hardly seems likely. What's more, are we really willing to risk the lives of innocent Americans to test the proposition?
Let's be clear: At a certain point, there will be terrorists from whom we can extract lifesaving information only through the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. The question for the Obama administration is this: Is having the ability to claim the moral "high ground" (telling "the world" that the US doesn't use the techniques) worth the loss of innocent American lives?
Not in my book.