I don't know what it says about legal priestcraft that it's so hard to set to a beat.
There was a discussion on the radio today that the lawyers who wrote the briefs may well have written them to provide legal cover for decisions that had already been made at the top. If so, that would be a serious violation of professional ethics. Lawyers are not only supposed to advocate for their clients, but advise them candidly on what the law actually says and how it applies to a particular situation. They were obliged to tell the White House that these "enhanced interrogation" methods were illegal under US law, under the Code of Military Conduct, and under several international treaties of the USA was not only a signatory, but an author. We prosecuted Japanese officers after WWII for waterboarding American and Allied POWs.
It seems to me that Bush/ Cheney and Company's only real fallback argument is Nixon's "If the the President does it, it's not illegal."