E.D. Kain responds to Thiessen:
If a German soldier or intelligence officer in WWII had been captured that soldier may have possessed knowledge of planned German offensives. Getting that information may indeed have saved thousands of American or Allied lives. A captured SS officer may have had information regarding death camps or other atrocities which would have led to increased support for the war effort. Countless scenarios, whether ticking-time-bomb or not, could be conceived wherein during the course of traditional warfare intelligence garnered from captured soldiers would lead to saving the lives of many on our side. Does this make torture or “enhanced interrogation techniques” any more viable or moral or practical?
In terms of Catholic teaching, I would say that this is absolutely not the case.
And if it does not apply to traditional war, then I fail to see how it applies any more or less to terrorism. After all, does it apply to crime-fighting? That is not traditional warfare, but I imagine there are countless scenarios where criminals have information that could save lives. And can we not simply redefine all engagements that are traditional warfare as non-traditional and then change the rules accordingly. At what point does an asymmetrical conflict become non-traditional war by necessity?