Interrogation Tactics Weren't Torture, American Officials Shouldn't Be Prosecuted

Putting a previous administration on trial would set a scary precedent. Besides, no lines were crossed.

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As for the other techniques, these include sleep deprivation, "stress positions," and the playing of loud music—hardly what most people (much less the relevant laws) would define as torture.

Instead of debating whether to punish those who helped prevent an attack on American soil for the past seven years, we ought to be debating how we can protect and defend ourselves for the next seven. Here's a suggestion: There are thousands of pages of research and ample data on interrogations. They should be studied by independent and disinterested experts with a simple mission: Tell President Obama which methods are effective. The president should then decide which of these methods we will not utilize, not even if that means innocent people will be murdered; which may be used only with his specific authorization; and which can be used by trained interrogators following clear guidelines under the authority of the director of central intelligence and the director of national intelligence.

And can we please—to echo a phrase—move on? Can we discontinue this odious trend of criminalizing policy differences? Do we really want to become the kind of country that imprisons people for their opinions? Can we not be clear-eyed enough to see how self-destructive that would be in the midst of a shadow war against fanatics who chant, "Death to America!" and have demonstrated that they mean it?

  • Tell us what you think: Should those behind torture be prosecuted?

  • Updated on 5/18/09: An earlier headline for this article was replaced.