well, okay, i actually had more to say
another colleague suggested that torture depended on motives (paraphrasing); my response:
no; this is the current Bush argument -- "all that we do is justified due to national security" -- no different than the arguments used by the powerful for centuries to excuse mass murder, torture, etc (on other and on THEIR OWN populations). Bush, et al are too cowardly to state what they are actually doing -- torturing people; instead, they obfuscate by using the euphemisms (harsh interrogations, rough interrogations, etc.) to maintain the appearance of morality. "The US does NOT torture people" -- we just waterboard them, electrocute them, hang them by their wrists for hours at a time, subject them to extreme temperatures, etc. Since these techniques are not torture (by THEIR definition), we can continue to strut and beat our national chest about how "moral" we are.
the very least that they could do is be honest about the fact that they intentionally harm people because they can and because they like to. as noted previously, torture doesn't work and they know this. why do they continue to do it then? because they are sadists, because they are vengeful, because no one has the power nor the will to stop them. it is the naked abuse of power, pure and simple.
how can we condemn torture in all instances? easy, it serves no purpose other than the ones i just listed, so why do it?
again, i am clear on my humanistic orientation and am committed to same. situational/relativistic morality is scary and dangerous, as evidenced by all that is happening today.
IMO, if there is anything frightening about this thread, it is that the use of torture is even being debated.