CIA interrogators should not face criminal charges. Those who seek to prosecute Bush officials and the CIA make two mistakes: First, like armchair dictators, they aim to impose their own definition of torture where no consensus exists. Further, they misunderstand the role of government lawyers. Government lawyers are not policymakers who impose personal views about, for example, what constitutes torture; they are facilitators meant to ensure that administrations follow the letter of the law. The intelligence community sought guidance from government lawyers, and, though the human rights community may not like it, they rightly concluded that the Geneva Conventions apply fully only to legitimate combatants, in uniform, with arms carried openly, who operate according to the laws of war. They found that creating stress is not illegal.
The CIA should, however, learn a lesson. It became a political football because too many employees leaked with impunity. They poured gasoline on a political fire; now they will get burned.