Just as "but they were a huge jerk" is not a legitimate defense of beating someone to death, "but it produced actionable intelligence" is not a legitimate defense of torture. Not that that actually matters anymore!

In addition to having been considered morally wrong in any circumstance for the whole history of our nation, torture is also illegal. So it's pretty much a no-brainer, when you read the report about how the CIA tortured people, to say "well then they should probably look into prosecuting people." Unless you're Dick Cheney! Then what you do is demand that some other documents that will prove that torture worked get released. And once those documents are released and they just muddy the issue even further by saying over and over again that is impossible to know what interrogation techniques produced what intelligence let alone how much of that intelligence was actionable or even accurate, if you are the media, you write "well Dick Cheney has a very good point."

That is what The Washington Post did yesterday. According to the story, Khalid Sheik Mohammed was a difficult detainee who provided no worthwhile intelligence until he was waterboarded nearly 200 times and shackled and diapered and sleep-deprived for a week straight. Then he was suddenly a Chatty Cathy!

Of course, KSM has bragged about how he made up untrue intelligence while he was being tortured in order to make the torture stop, and the CIA inspector general who helmed the investigation into torture says there's been no analysis of which techniques produced what information or even how useful that information was, but hey, we tortured KSM and then he told us stuff, so torture works and no one should get in any trouble for it, ever.

The problem is probably that as soon as us shocked and appalled "civil rights extremists" who want to read al-Qaeda terrorists their rights said "torture is immoral and ineffective" it just opened the door for patriotic torturers to respond with "torture is effective and anyone who says otherwise has to prove it," which is not the best way for a moral debate to go, really.