I agree about the brightline prohibition, since I do not believe torture is morally ok in any sphere of action.
My edit on OBL: If it is at all possible to capture him and try him, rather than dropping a bomb on his head, we have a moral obligation to do so.
I am enjoying this sparring very much. I have been, and continue to be deeply impressed with the knowledge, intelligence, and thoughtfulness displayed by the people of TLS. My own store of knowledge is quite humble, but I offer my thoughts to you.
Thanks for the compliment.
Well, obviously there is a risk-benefit analysis in each case. It might take longer to get a party to snatch him up than just to kill him, so there is the risk he will get away. There is the risk soldiers will be killed or wounded in the attempt to retrieve him. So obviously the military is probably going to usually prefer to drop a bomb and check the DNA, other thins being equal. The one big benefit to capturing a terrorist or hideout intact is of course intelligence. But by limiting the means we use to extract intelligence, we are altering the cost-benefit analysis in favor of killing the terrorist. A delicious irony if one is concerned about the "harm" done to the terrorist or terrorist suspects. The result of the policy very well could be: no tortured terrorists, but more dead terrorists (and let's not forget, innocents killed collaterally), as well as perhaps our own innocents who may suffer a harm which could have otherwise been prevented.
A lot of other issues trouble me more than the limited use of torture in the WoT. Collateral damage can be justified morally, but it certainly seems worse than the "torture" we have inflicted against a limited number of high-ranking terrorists. But I am very sympathetic to a few arguments against torture. The harm is does to our image (more of an argument for secrecy and duplicity than anything, but if leaks are inevitable than it is also an argument for a ban); the perhaps increase in use against our own soldiers because of our policies (not necessarily by al-qaeda, they will do anything, but other countries feel thy can now torture our soldiers because we have waterboarded terrorist detainees); and of course the arguments basaed on the slippery slope reasoning. I think there are a lot of good arguments against the POLICY; however, I really tire of the moral indignation. Which, I confess, is just plain puzzling.