Charles Krauthammer has an article arguing that sometimes you just have to torture, so exceptions to the McCain Amendment should be encoded in law. This is, of course, wrong, but I just want to point out one especially misguided bit:
These exceptions to the no-torture rule would not be granted to just any nonmilitary interrogators, or anyone with CIA credentials. They would be reserved for highly specialized agents who are experts and experienced in interrogation, and who are known not to abuse it for the satisfaction of a kind of sick sadomasochism Lynndie England and her cohorts indulged in at Abu Ghraib.There are two problems with this:
1. "Highly specialized" torturers are, almost by definition, people who would tend to abuse torture for the satisfaction of a kind of sick sadomasochism. Trying to pick kind and decent people who are just inflicting excruciating pain - not just occassionally, but as their major profession - because it's a necessary evil is like trying to square a circle. Not to mention that a great deal of experience in torturing human beings will inevitably coarsen and degrade a kind and decent person to the point of developing a kind of sick sadomasochism to be satisfied by abusing torture.
2. Creating an elite force of "expert professional torturers" (let's not mince words as Krauthammer does by calling them "highly specialized agents" "experienced in interrogation") will only cause professional insularity among the torturers - a feeling that "we" know best, "they" don't know what we're dealing with in here, "we" don't need to be held accountable to "them" (i.e., the American people). The existence of specialized torturers is exactly inimical to Krauthammer's call for public, clearly-defined, well-regulated torture. See, e.g. this essay about torture by a sociologist who studied Brazilian police torturers [pdf].