I've been thinking about this for quite a while. Not exactly a pleasant subject. And some of the words being thrown about after the revelation that the Pakastani authorities may have used it to get some of the information used to cut off the airline-bombing plot are, let's say, intemperate.
Torture is not a nice word, describing things that are about as nasty at they get. Let me make something clear, I am NOT speaking of coercive interrogation, NOT speaking of loud music or sleep deprivation; an awful lot of people have expanded the definition to include anything including hurting someone's tender feelings. I am talking about the deliberate infliction of pain and bodily injury on someone. Burns, torn skin, cuts, chemicals, broken bones and all the other ways of causing pain.
This is one of those situations in which you may find yourself with no 'good' choice. If you don't use it and something horrendous happens because you didn't get the information to stop it, how do you deal with that? And if you do it, and get the information and stop it, you have to deal with what you did to get the info.
Put me in a situation where I know I'm dealing with someone who has the information to stop a plot like this. If we don't get the information, hundreds to thousands of people may die. You do get it and stop the plot, you've stained yourself with something that won't wash or wear off. I've been thinking about it, and put in that situation, with no time for anything else?
I'd do it.
Not saying it lightly. I'd be sick as hell afterward, and I'm not sure how I'd deal with what I'd done. But with that choice; stay in the rules and don't get the information and many die, or break the rules and ruin another human and save those lives, I'd do it.
I've known people who truly believe that violence is always bad, no matter what. That using violence to defend yourself against attack makes you as morally wrong as your attacker. I think they're either deluded or nuts. And the blanket statement that torture can never be used no matter what the potential cost is equally so. No, I don't like it. No, I don't want it to be done. Yes, in extreme circumstances I agree to see it done.
And please don't play games with 'extreme circumstances'; I know what I mean, and I think everyone else does, too. Boils down to, I am not willing to salve my conscience with "We stayed the high course" to excuse not doing the nasty things when nothing else will stop the bad guys.
Not as a routine thing. Not because we're in a hurry; if you've got time(and the idiots stay out of the way) standard interrogation can usually get what you need. In extreme situation, yeah.
And no, I don't like saying that.