There are a number of important questions about the Bush administration’s use of torture: Was it, in fact, torture? (Clearly yes. Anyone who maintains otherwise gets flagged by me as someone whose views can be safely ignored in the future.) Was it moral? Was it legal? Was it effective? Note that these last three questions are orthogonal. It’s possible to imagine something being any combination of moral, legal, and effective.
The effectiveness question seems to be the one the Bush supporters want to focus on at the moment. I don’t blame them; I think it’s probably the one question out of the three where the pro-torture position has any chance at all.
So let’s talk about the effectiveness of torture. Here’s Rachel Maddow interviewing Lawrence Wilkerson on the question of Dick Cheney’s recent claims that his use of torture produced actionable intelligence and, on balance, saved lives: