Alone, the word either has no referent, or presents implications of brutality, sadism and lawlessness in retaliations. Or more chilling, thought brings examples of cold and disinterested violence with no cause but to provide an example to inspire terror and compliance.
For most of us the very word is one that brings repugnance, as being against the very fabric of our civilization, as something that crosses the line of justice in any war.
Acts that, with used against an enemy, serve either to frighten into submission (as intended) or stiffen opposition against all reason, out of the perception that horrific fates will result even in otherwise honorable surrender.
There is a broad historical understanding of the use, utility and consequences of torture. In the "modern" world the basic prohibitions lead back to St. Aquinas and his germinal writings on "just war" itself, and the conduct expected by those waging that war.
But this series of articles are meant to treat the current discussion of torture, as performed or sanctioned by the instrumentalities for the United States, such as the armed forces, the intelligence communities, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice and Executive branch of the United States government....
(this is a long post - see the full text Under The Fold)..