Most of those whining about CIA interrogation tactics and torture appear to have little or no idea about why we have a clandestine service of the Central Intelligence Agency in the first place, and what it does in order to protect the country. One of the most common refrains from legalist-minded terrorist rights supporters, is that CIA interrogation methods were illegal, and that therefore we cannot tolerate them without undermining the rule of law. There's only one problem with this argument. It is completely illogical. Yet you will hear it repeated over and over.
We have a secret service within the CIA specifically to carry out illegal actions. Even spying itself is usually illegal. Here are just a few of the illegal actions that can be necessary in foreign intelligence operations:
The CIA has done all of these things at at various times in its history, and continues to do them today. Right at this moment, the CIA, supported by the military, is evaluating intelligence to determine the next target for assassination in Pakistan. Using various methods, it will identify someone for elimination. This target will be a suspected member of Al Qaeda or the Taliban. He'll be someone who was likely never convicted of anything, and his identification might even be mistaken. He probably won't be a prominent, well-known Al Qaeda member like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And what will the CIA do to this target?
Acting on their intelligence, the CIA will fly a drone into the territory of an allied country. They will fire a missile at their suspect, killing him and anyone who happens to be around at the time, including his wife and children, and any other possibly innocent victims. Even the Obama administration favors these assassinations, despite all the drawbacks and the significant possibility of mistaken identifications. Yet people actually argue that the CIA can't torture someone like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed because it's against the law. Really. And they expect their illogic to be taken seriously.
Is convincing a member of another state to betray his country and provide information to the U.S. in any way a legal act? That's the definition of human intelligence. There is a reason that CIA operations within the United States are restricted. The nature of intelligence requires many outright illegal actions, which we would not tolerate here in the U.S. Many other actions are legally nebulous, and the CIA operates in those gray areas. One of the reasons we have an agency like the CIA, is precisely to carry out dirty, illegal actions necessary to protect the country. There is simply no logical reason why the CIA should be permitted to assassinate terrorist suspects, yet be prohibited from torturing a positively identified terrorist leader in order to extract information. And any argument based on nothing more than, "because its illegal," or, "it undermines the rule of law," is ridiculous on its face.