LIEBERMAN STRUGGLES TO BREAK BAD HABITS…. To his credit, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has been less annoying since President Obama came to his defense in January. This is not to say he’s been a proud progressive voice, but given his conduct in 2008, Lieberman has shied away from some of his more offensive tendencies.

But old habits die hard. From Fox News last night:

VAN SUSTEREN: Again, the whole business about the torture memos being released by the Obama administration — good idea or bad idea?

LIEBERMAN: I thought release of the memos was a bad idea. The President of the United States as the commander in chief has the right to decide what kinds of tactics he wants to use with detainees who we believe are associated with terrorism and what kinds he does not want to use. Congress legislated on that. I was a cosponsor with Senator McCain of the anti-torture provisions we put into law. But once you start to take internal memos that have been designated as top secret —

VAN SUSTEREN: Even if it’s — first of all, is waterboarding torture?

LIEBERMAN: Well, I take a minority position on this. Most people think it’s definitely torture. The truth is, it has mostly a psychological impact on people. It’s a terrible thing to do… Why do I think it was a mistake to give it out? It wasn’t necessary. It just helps our enemies. It doesn’t really help us. (emphasis added throughout)

So, Lieberman is to the right of John McCain on whether waterboarding is torture. He also thinks torturing detainees — which makes terrorist recruiting easier while undermining the good name of the United States around the world — doesn’t help our enemies, while pursuing some semblance of accountability does help our enemies.

If Lieberman could at least pretend to be upset about the torture itself, I’d be more confident in his character.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.