Charlie Savage in the New York Times, Election May Decide When Interrogation Amounts to Torture:
In one of his first acts, President Obama issued an executive order restricting interrogators to a list of nonabusive tactics approved in theArmy Field Manual. Even as he embraced a hawkish approach to other counterterrorism issues — like drone strikes, military commissions, indefinite detention and the Patriot Act — Mr. Obama has stuck to that strict no-torture policy.
By contrast, Mr. Romney’s advisers have privately urged him to “rescind and replace President Obama’s executive order” and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum.
While the memo is a policy proposal drafted by Mr. Romney’s advisers in September 2011 — not a final decision by him — its detailed analysis dovetails with his rare and limited public comments about interrogation.
“We’ll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now,” he said at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., in December.
Here we run into the problem repeatedly met by those trying to predict what a Romney presidency would look like. He says he’d be more hawkish on Iran, but will he? He surrounds himself with neocons, but will he really seek to reshape the map of the Middle East through military force? It can be hard to parse through what are probably miscalculated GOP talking points and what some people argue would be a more measured, pragmatic Romney presidency.
But we can only take the indications we have and it seems here like Romney knowingly signaled that he would reinstitute torture of terrorist suspects. [As a side note, Obama doesn't have a clean record on torture, despite his early executive order against it.]
The problem with this is that there is also every indication that Romney would adopt and perhaps expand the central policy that has made torture obsolete: drone wars. Obama’s embrace of drones to kill suspects in non-war zones has replaced any pretense of locking them up without trial. Thus, torture in a Romney presidency would be as outdated a policy as it is in the Obama administration, and Romney’s public rubber stamp for torture was probably just election season rhetoric (like every thing else that comes out of his mouth).