And so, if all reports are to be believed, we have crossed the Rubicon- we have become a nation that tortures. Forget the "ticking time-bomb scenario"- we have committed an immoral act, and far worse than committing such an act, we have christened it as moral.
This is, of course, a situation in which an "activist" like Noam Chomsky is totally useless. Nearly every statement that the far left makes concerning "'Uhmurika" is an insult. Klauswitz said that the man who defends everything defends nothing. Similarly, the man who finds everyone guilty legitimizes the truly guilty.
This is a situation in which the right needs to recognize a moral absolute, and the left needs to become more comfortable with defending a moral absolute. Torture is morally indefensible- in every case, and every situation. If it is "waterboarding" or ripping out fingernails, or even "stress positions", it is a morally wrong act. As a liberal, it feels good to be interdictory for once- this is something that can never be done.
Torture is worthless as a means for gaining evidence, it is morally indefensible, and it represents the end of moral authority, which the US had hoped to preserve, and its replacement with arbitrary power. As leaders from Nero to Stalin have shown, the two cannot co-exist.
Torture is also, ultimately, wedded to slavery in a marriage of necessity. In the first place, torture is the foundation of slavery; it is the last resort of the slave-owner, and key to the social alienation of the slave. A slave is literally a person who can be tortured. So, even a slave-owner who has never tortured is still a torturer because the key to their authority remains torture.
Secondly, the last resort of the torturer is ultimately either slavery or murder. The tortured can never be untortured, and by being tortured have been removed from society in an irreparable way. Ultimately, most societies that torture have had to resort to murder, in the case of Argentina or the Soviet Union for example, or slavery, in the case of Rome or even Hellenic Greece. This is why the tortured often become the disappeared, and we might suggest that the 83,000 prisoners of the war on terror, by having never been tried, can be considered slaves.
But, every torturer becomes a slave-owner, even if only briefly, by torturing. Torture is definitionally violence inflicted with the victim having no agency to defend themselves. The key aspect of torture is this removal of agency. This is why the torturer will tell the victim that there is no escape and that no one can save them- the individual is alienated from society and their lack of freedom or human agency is what allows them to be tortured.
And so, by sanctioning torture, or even "light torture" we have re-sanctioned slavery, even if we do not have slaves. But, I believe we do.