Using waterboarding on an Iraqi POW would be a clear-cut violation of the Geneva Convention. Even suggesting it might be conspiracy to commit a war crime. Besides, the OLC memos purportedly made the enhanced techniques legal only for use against al Qaida and Taliban members in extreme cases.
Kagro X undercut himself with his suggestion that the torture regime was comparable to the Spanish Inquisition, but his basic points were sound, as Jane reiterated:
1. Private contractors were conducting tortureThese are points to keep hammering home. But we could add the Geneva element with respect to the Iraqi prisoner Charles Duelfer mentions. The convention doesn't seem to have been an impediment for the OVP, unless they thought that by merely "suggesting" waterboarding that they would not be crossing that line (hoping Duelfer, et. al. would take the hint and act on their own).
2. It was torture for political gain
3. Pollsters should be asking if Americans support using torture to extract false confessions for political purposes, because that's what happened
Because of the use of unnamed sources, the count is somewhat muddy, but the citations are mounting that the Bush administration used torture for political cover for the Iraq invasion:
1. Maj. Paul Burney - SASC reportKatrina vanden Heuvel just raised the issue on This Week (still in progress).
2. "A former senior U.S. intelligence official" - McClatchy April 21
3. Charles Duelfer - Daily Beast report
4. One "U.S. intelligence officer" (or two?) in addition to Duelfer - Daily Beast report
5. Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson - Washington Note
The trick bloggers have to remember is to be careful about how they report these issues. Go hyperbolic and the argument becomes about how we say things, rather than about the facts themselves.