The New Yorker is running a piece that provides a "rare look inside the C.I.A.'s secret interrogation program." It is uniformly depressing and disturbing, but I encourage you to read it. It's all about an administration that has gone buck wild, far afield from the Geneva Conventions and U.S. law in its attempts to get good intelligence. To whet your appetite, I'm just going to pull some quotes from various CIA agents whose comments are included in the article:
[Interrogations] began right away, in Afghanistan, on the fly ... They invented the program of interrogation with people who had no understanding of Al Qaeda or the Arab world ... [The White House was] pushing us: 'Get information! Do not let us get hit again!'
Something else that will make you proud to be an American:
The agency had no experience in detention. Never. But they insisted on arresting and detaining people in this program. It was a mistake, in my opinion. You can't mix intelligence and police work. But the White House was really pushing. They wanted someone to do it. So the C.I.A. said, 'We'll try.' George Tenet came out of politics, not intelligence. His whole modus operandi was to please the principal. We got stuck with all sorts of things. This is really the legacy of a director who never said no to anybody.
Some cheerfulness from a former CIA officer:
A lot of us knew this would be a can of worms ... We warned them, It's going to become an atrocious mess. ... What are you going to do with these people? The utility of someone like [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] is, at most, six months to a year. You exhaust them. Then what? It would have been better if we had executed them.
And finally, here's some happiness from an "outside expert":
[The C.I.A.'s interrogation program is] one of the most sophisticated, refined programs of torture ever ... At every stage, there was a rigid attention to detail. Procedure was adhered to almost to the letter. There was top-down quality control, and such a set routine that you get to the point where you know what each detainee is going to say, because you've heard it before. It was almost automated. People were utterly dehumanized. People fell apart. It was the intentional and systematic infliction of great suffering masquerading as a legal process. It is just chilling.
And so, what's to stop other countries from doing this to American soldiers and citizens? In fact, what's to stop our government from torturing American citizens like this? These cowboy wannabes will do anything. Anything they want. We've abandoned the moral high ground. But it's not like we didn't know that already...