A question being mulled over at the Daily Dish.
Manzi asks the question. I approach this from the just war tradition in which war, however vile, is sometimes defensible against a greater evil. Torture, however, is never moral or defensible under any circumstances. Why? It has to do, I believe, with autonomy. An enemy soldier that you are battling in combat remains autonomous (and potentially dangerous) until the moment of capture or surrender. At that point, his autonomy ends, as he is in captivity, unable to cause you further harm. And the infliction of severe pain or violence on someone who is thereby defenseless carries a much deeper moral weight than a fair or even unfair fight.