Is torture ethical? Should the United States torture prisoners in its custody? A generation ago, an ambitious politician would have known how to answer those questions. Recall that Ronald Reagan urged the Senate to "demonstrate unequivocally our desire to bring an end to the abhorrent practice of torture," which he called "an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today." In time, senators complied by committing the United States to either "prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries."
Today the abhorrence of torture is much diminished.
The latest evidence is in a McKay Coppins profile of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, whose recently published book, Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and A Nation’s Challenge, was coauthored by Marc Thiessen, a former Bush Administration speechwriter whose work as a commentator has marked him as one of the most fervent apologists for "enhanced interrogation techniques."
Thus this part of the profile (emphasis added):
... when it came to the national security issues that have defined Thiessen’s career—he has been a full-throated champion of Bush-era interrogation methods, and the president’s post-9/11 policies in general—Walker was unwilling to engage. Asked whether he thought Guantanamo Bay should be shut down, Walker said, “To me, that’s one of those were before I give opinions on things I like to weigh the facts, and not being elected to federal office I’m probably not privy enough right now to have firm opinions on that.” And quizzed on the ethicality of water-boarding, Walker demurred again: “I don’t spend enough time or have a knowledge base to comment.”
Look how far we've come. The question being posed here is as follows: Is it ethical to take a blindfolded human being who hasn't been given any due process, to strap him to a board, to force water into his cavities until it fills his lungs, to induce the physical terror that accompanies drowning, and to leverage that terror in order to coerce him into giving information he may or may not possess?