National Review On Torture, Ctd

A reader writes:

I just read the following by Thiessen on the Corner:
In traditional war, when you capture an enemy soldier, once he is disarmed and taken off the battlefield he has been “rendered unable to cause harm.” But that is not true of senior terrorist leaders like KSM. They retain the power to kill many thousands by withholding information about planned attacks. A captured terrorist leader remains an unjust aggressor who actively threatens society targeting innocent civilians in violation of the laws of war even when he is in custody.

This is just a bogus argument based on a meaningless distinction. I mean, suppose the captured soldier in a "traditional" war is a high ranking officer with knowledge of the enemy's battle plan. Certainly, by Thiessen's definition, he would still be capable of inflicting harm by withholding information, yet Thiessen appears to be saying that torture is off limits for that individual. On the other hand, a relatively low-ranking al Qaeda operative with most likely little to no knowledge of operations outside of his particular cell (does anybody think that the idiot they convinced to put a bomb in his underwear has really been entrusted with information about planning for other Al Qaeda operations?) must be tortured.

The level of intellectual dishonesty gives me cause for despair.