More on torture
The moral repugnance of torture is from the fact that the detainee has been captured and is physically restrained. Forcing horrible pain and suffering on such a person is no different from brutalizing a paraplegic, or as misterskank said above, a baby. It's different once someone is captured and their autonomy has been stripped.
A Taliban fighter knows that the US Marines are much better trained, armored, and equipped, but they fight anyway -- they made the choice. They could also choose to surrender. In fact, during WWII, many German soldiers simply surrendered because they had been conscripted and didn't want to fight, and the United States was known for its mercy. The Eastern Front was very different -- the Russians were brutal and both sides had to fight to the death, and literally millions of soldiers and civilians died in Eastern Europe. What warmaking method was more effective? How many Taliban fighters would be willing to surrender if it was known that the enemy -- the US -- was merciful? How many would fight to the death knowing that their enemy would humiliate and torture them? The actions of the enemy should not determine the actions of the US, in this example.
In reading your responses, it occurs to me that your position on torture simply rejects the idea that any ethics debate on torture is useful, and that we should unleash animal instinct and ruthlessness -- i.e. inhumanity -- in the defense of family or country. Yes, what is the use of words and debate at all, if the ends justify the means? This is the definition of short-sightedness.
In reading about veterans and talking to veterans, their frustration comes from the fact that those they protect have so little understanding of their suffering from having to kill and having their friends killed in war. They see a country of people saying, "Yeah, let's go to war, let's torture," and going shopping at Wal-Mart. They do not serve the President or the government; they serve to protect the Constitution, which says that treaties are the same as law, and the UN Convention on Torture proscribes torture, so torture is clearly going against the spirit and letter of the US Constitution. I'm thankful that men in the 1770s and 1780s created a system distrustful of an all-powerful central authority -- a king. Legal impunity for the use of torture is the closest thing to tyranny I can think of. It abolishes the intent for liberty and equality under the rule of law outlined in the Constitution. If our only goal is to save our children somehow, whatever the means, why even have the Constitution? Let's just have a strongman with dictatorial powers.