If torture worked, the need to criminalise it would be even more imperative than if it were ineffective because the temptation to use it would then be even greater. If torture did not work there would be no need to use it. It was largely because the CIA believed, or persuaded itself, that it did work that it became such a widespread practice.
It came as little surprise that the official inquiry into the circumstances that led to the Woolwich attack paid scant attention to the role UK intelligence played in the abuse of Michael Adebolajo in Kenya. In his court appearance last December Michael Adebolajo himself did not mention whether or not the incident had an impact on his own thinking in the run-up to Woolwich.
The release of this report teaches us an important lesson; that it is easy for the rule of law and our own civility to be lost in a climate of fear, where pressing concerns are focused on finding ways to protect ourselves from dangerous and evil forces like Al Qaeda or ISIS. Behaviour that compromises such principles, however, will invariably fail to keep us safe.
Barack Obama's now rather famous phrase from the end of last week is quite something... Torture is a worldwide scourge, affecting three-quarters of the world. Acknowledging that it's as wrong when used against "terrorism suspects" as it is against political opponents or even minor criminal suspects is... well, progress.
As long ago as 2006 President Bush acknowledged (after lengthy rumours) that the US had transported to Guantánamo 14 "high value" detainees previously held by the CIA in a secret location. Now, seven years later, it's noticeable that Department of Defense's updates on the hunger strike at Guantánamo systematically exclude the high value detainees.