Advocates of "enhanced interrogation techniques" tend to cite evidence showing that a detainee provided information after being tortured as if proves their case. But as I noted a few days ago, the key question in the debate over the efficacy of torture (which I abhor under any circumstances) is whether detainees provide more useful intelligence while being tortured than they would have under conventional interrogation. Few people seem to understand this point.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You've said in the past that waterboarding in your opinion is torture. And torture is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions. Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?
MR. OBAMA: What I've said -- and I will repeat -- is that waterboarding violates our ideals and our values. I do believe that it is torture. I don't think that's just my opinion; that's the opinion of many who've examined the topic. And that's why I put an end to these practices.
I am absolutely convinced that it was the right thing to do -- 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 -- in ways that were consistent with our values, in ways that were consistent with who we are.
It's good to see Obama standing up for the efficacy of conventional interrogation, which is underrated by pundits and apparatchiks who have seen too many episodes of 24.