The Magazine

From the Inside Out

A lawyer-spy makes the case for the CIA.

Apr 14, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 29 • By GABRIEL SCHOENFELD
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I happen to believe that the enhanced interrogation program was a mistake that tarnished the image of our country, and I say that with full awareness that it might have saved American lives. We did not use such measures to extract information from prisoners in any of our previous wars, including World War II, when our homeland was struck in a surprise attack, entire armies were on the move, and the future of civilization itself was at stake. We did not use such measures during the wars in Korea and Vietnam, when every day our soldiers were dying by the scores. The CIA should not have pushed the Justice Department into the business of writing highly detailed memos explaining, for example, whether prisoners could, or could not, be legally placed in boxes filled with insects to make them talk. 

But I make my judgment from the comfort of hindsight, and with a keen awareness that I was not in the fight, except as a writer on the sidelines. John Rizzo was in the fight. And for that he deserves our respect and gratitude.

Gabriel Schoenfeld is the author of Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law and, most recently, A Bad Day on the Romney Campaign: An Insider’s Account.