Whether water boarding is allowable way to coerce, I don't know. McCain says no. He took a stand. The administration struggled to draw the lines.
But Democrats have demagogued it, and for sure leaders were briefed long ago. Here's today's Boston Herald Editorial: Who knew what on Capitol Hill?
The Washington Post reported Sunday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top congressional leaders were briefed in September 2002 on CIA interrogations designed to squeeze information from suspected terrorists. Among the techniques described, according to the Post, was waterboarding.Also, Hitchen's today on Abolish the CIA. Destruction of the water boarding tapes the last straw.
“In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic,” one official present during the briefings told the Post. “But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, ‘We don’t care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.’ ”
And yet, once word of the harsh techniques became public, Pelosi, among others, began employing it as a blunt political instrument - proclaiming the practice of waterboarding as an illegal form of torture and condemning the Bush administration for allowing it.
And now we have further confirmation of the astonishing culture of lawlessness and insubordination that continues to prevail at the highest levels in Langley. At a time when Congress and the courts are conducting important hearings on the critical question of extreme interrogation, and at a time when accusations of outright torture are helping to besmirch and discredit the United States all around the world, a senior official of the CIA takes the unilateral decision to destroy the crucial evidence. This deserves to be described as what it is: mutiny and treason. Despite a string of exposures going back all the way to the Church Commission, the CIA cannot rid itself of the impression that it has the right to subvert the democratic process both abroad and at home. Its criminality and arrogance could perhaps have been partially excused if it had ever got anything right, but, from predicting the indefinite survival of the Soviet Union to denying that Saddam Hussein was going to invade Kuwait, our spymasters have a Clouseau-like record, one that they have earned yet again with their exculpation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was after the grotesque estimate of continued Soviet health and prosperity that the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that the CIA should be abolished. It is high time for his proposal to be revived. The system is worse than useless—it's a positive menace. We need to shut the whole thing down and start again.