Imagine that U.S. forces capture Osama bin Laden or a high-level lieutenant in Pakistan next month and hand him over to the CIA, amid intelligence reports that a massive new Qaeda attack on America may be imminent.
Should it be illegal for CIA interrogators to try to scare the man into talking by yelling at him? By threatening to slap him? By pretending to be from Egypt's brutal intelligence service? What about turning up the air conditioner to make him uncomfortably cold? Or denying him hot food until he talks, while giving him all the cold food he can eat?
These methods would all apparently be illegal under a rider that the House-Senate conference committee added to the annual intelligence authorization bill. It would bar the CIA from using any interrogation practice not authorized in the Army field manual's rules for military interrogators. This would mean prohibiting almost all forms of coercive interrogation, including many potentially effective techniques that come nowhere near torture and are now clearly legal.
Is that right? Soldiers are prohibited from using "almost all" coercive interrogation methods? Unless I'm misunderstanding the situation, this strikes me as a problem in itself.