This article shows that it was pretty clear that the goal was to prevent future prosecutions. It appears that the CIA was less concerned about what would happen in congress or a future administration than being hung out to dry by Bush and His Evil Minions™.
One half of the definitive word, however, comes from former C.I.A. deputy director, John C. Gannon, “To a spectator it would look like torture and torture is wrong.”
The other half is that it was torture, and these men did the wrong thing.