Peter Beinart is correct to say that brutality as a national security measure, even when illegal, is not a new phenomena in America. The recent Senate report is gruesome and unfortunate... and not the first time that the United States has overstepped the legal boundaries of interrogation methods.
Even so, I would suggest that it is irresponsible for Beinart to write that, "Torture is Who We Are." Labels can reinforce identities and Beinart does little to push the United States away from such behavior. One could argue that Beinart's intention was to craft a forthright argument. I would disagree, finding the article compelling but short-sighted.
America has tortured throughout its history. And every time it has, some Americans have justified the brutality as necessary to protect the country from a savage enemy. Others have called it counterproductive and immoral. At different moments, the balance of power between these two groups shifts. But neither side in these debates speaks for the “real America.” The real America includes them both. Morally, we contain multitudes.