The newly released torture memos reveal that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the planners of the 9-11 attacks, was waterboarded 183 times in one month. Waterboarding, despite what some wags on Fox News like to say, is a terrible torture, much harder to endure than beatings or electric shocks.
This raises some questions for me. First, how can anyone now think that torture of any sort would be useful in a "ticking time bomb" scenario? The CIA went at their "high value subjects" for months with everything they could devise. Second, does torture really work at all with tough, highly motivated people? What we are hearing now is that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, our two most famous al Qaeda prisoners, never revealed anything under torture that they hadn't already said under questioning. If they held back any secrets, truly horrific levels of suffering could not pry them out. There are references in our published documents to a secret CIA assessment of "harsh questioning" that seems to say that it may not work at all on religious fanatics. Since that category includes most of our most dangerous enemies, what's the point?
Third, what kind of person can inflict such suffering, day in and day out? What kind of doctor can monitor such acts and still sleep at night, knowing he once swore an oath to do no harm? And what kind of country can allow such acts to be done in its name?