What happened
Debate over waterboarding heated up this week after a retired CIA agent, John Kiriakou, said the controversial interrogation technique shook what may have been life-saving information from a terrorist. Despite his belief in the effectiveness of waterboarding, designed to make a prisoner feel like he is drowning, Kiriakou said he believed the practice amounted to torture and should be outlawed. (Chicago Tribune)

What the commentators said
“John Kiriakou is a very confused man,” said Mark Davis in The Dallas Morning News. How can he oppose waterboarding after saying that, after just 35 seconds, it got notorious al Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to answer every question interrogators posed? “In a sensible era, that's it. Case closed.”

No, in a sensible era Americans avoid taking the first step down this “slippery slope,” said Randy Scholfield in a Wichita Eagle blog. Kiriakou is still “wrestling” with the question of waterboarding, saying he would have trouble forgiving himself if he didn’t waterboard a prisoner and there was an attack he might have prevented. “If that’s the loose standard, then why not torture when you capture any terrorist suspect? Why not pull out their fingernails one by one?”

The debate rages on, said Jay Bookman in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but we already know where our government stands. CIA agents have tortured detainees, and the highest levels of the Bush administration gave them the green light even though the law clearly said they were wrong. The CIA destroyed videotapes of the interrogations, but we already know that “fear drove us to sacrifice” the moral high ground “in return for illusory, short-term security, and that doesn't speak well for us as a people."

"Water-boarding Abu Zubaydah as a last resort to find out what he knew about pending terrorist plots was a justifiable act of self-defense,” said Terence Jeffrey in Townhall.com.