"During the Nuremberg Trials, the Allied Powers established that "I was just following orders" is not a legitimate defense for heinous and barbarous acts. It doesn't matter how legitimate the authorities above you might otherwise be, they don't have the authority to order to you break the law. It also doesn't matter if they tell you that their orders are legal. If you choose to follow such orders, then you are completely responsible for your own actions — as a morally autonomous and responsible adult, no other conclusion is legally possible. You are not protected by any laws or any international treaties...Government employees and independent contractors are not automatons whom we simply wind up and aim in some desired direction; they are morally responsible adults who must be held morally and legally responsible for actions they choose to take. They have a choice to not take action they suspect may be legally questionable or which appear to be morally dubious. Granted, there are grey areas where it's not always obvious what is legal and what is illegal. I'd like to think that those engaged in actively administering criminal treatments like waterboarding would have noticed that they were breaking the law, but I could accept that not every situation was quite so clear. Is that a reason to withhold prosecution? Absolutely not. If complete ignorance of the law is not a valid defense for breaking the law without consequences, then difficulty in discerning the boundaries of the law won't be either. Even the most junior members of the military are legally and morally expected to uphold these standards under far more difficult and stressful conditions. Does anyone really want to argue that soldiers should be immune from prosecution for war crimes if they are told that the Justice Department decided it was legal to summarily execute suspected Muslim terrorists? So I don't think it's not asking too much to have these expectations of experienced civilians who have the luxury of time and space to consider their actions. "
Torture is barbarism, a monstrosity against which all good people should be appalled. It is not vague, it is not contingent on circumstance, it is not "a few bad apples". It is wrong, it always has been wrong, it always will be wrong.
The people who sanctioned it should be tried, convicted, and imprisoned for crimes against humanity.