Over at The Atlantic, Matthew Yglesias points out something that should have been obvious to even the dimmest among us: torture simply doesn't work for gathering intelligence except in fantasy land. 350 years ago, Hobbes pointed out that when you torture people, they tell you lies that might make you stop torturing them.
The myth of tortures effectiveness is understandable: the angry ape inside all of us might very well like the idea of ripping terrorists' fingernails out, and if you can save lives by stopping crimes before they happen by indulging in your sadistic fantasies, all the better.
But who do you want fighting the war on terror -- an angry ape, or an intelligent, sensible, calm and collected human being? I'll even go further: when it comes to a choice between having interrogators who know how to perform "waterboarding" and interrogators who actually speak the prisoners' language, my choice is the diametric opposite of that of the Bush administration.
So in summary, what they've hit upon is a protocol based on the best practices developed by Soviet and medieval torturers alike to accomplish torture's traditional goal -- the extraction of false confessions -- and seem to have wound up with a bunch of false confessions. Which, of course, is precisely what you'd expect to wind up with if you thought for a minute about why governments have, historically, resorted to the systemic deployment of torture.