It was a profound mistake for the U.S. government to think that the tragic events of 9/11, and an understandable fear of future terrorists armed with nuclear weapons, justified its use of torture. Describing torture as “enhanced interrogations,” “use of all necessary means,” or “educing information” doesn’t change a thing. Torture in any shape, form, or fashion is still an unacceptable practice for all U.S. officials, whether civilian or military. Even if torture workedand there isn’t even an iota of proof that it doesits use betrays every treasured principle and freedom we Americans hold dear. In the Vietnam-era Army, my superiors drilled into me that the soldier’s duty was to refuse a command to torture (or any other unlawful order I might receive). When I was a young CIA officer, my superiors insisted that there was no place in American intelligence for torture or other reprehensible practices. The time is long past for our return to those wise and honorable teachings. Waiting another day to eliminate an outrageous practice is both dumb policy and irreconcilable behavior.

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