In a statement certain to send Bill O'Reilly round yet another bend, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder made plain he considered waterboarding to be torture:
Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder Jr. forcefully broke from the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies Thursday, declaring that waterboarding is torture and pledging to prosecute some Guantanamo Bay detainees in U.S. courts.
It was the latest signal that President-elect Barack Obama will chart a new course in combating terrorism. As recently as last week, Vice President Dick Cheney defended waterboarding, a harsh interrogation tactic that simulates drowning, saying it provided valuable intelligence.
... It was the first topic discussed at Holder's confirmation hearing, and he made an unambiguous statement about its nature: "Waterboarding is torture."
As the pundits on MSNBC quickly observed, this not only means the Obama administration will explicitly abjure the use of torture as an intelligence tool, there is at least some likelihood that the people who approved torture -- and then conducted it -- within the Bush administration may someday face the consequences for having done so.
Of course, as Digby explored in some detail the other day (read it all), this sets all kinds of hearts a-fluttering and pearls a-twirling. As indeed it should.