Neanderpundit Og disagrees. (N.B.: blogs can easily become we're-so-kewl-and-right-fests. Those are fun but you don't learn nuthin'. When I find differing notions based on more than mere emotion, I'm gonna link to them).
Me, I remain of the opinion that no matter how noble the cause or how vile the opponent, treatin' other folks like piñatas will rot your soul. It happens to many sexworkers, it happens to strongarm criminals...and it happens to torturers. It's a fundamental change on attitude and behavior that makes the individual possessed of 'em a danger to everyone with whom he or she comes into contact. An institution suffused with such programming is little more than a malignant cancer.
In wartime or extreme situations, individuals will do dreadful things, uncivilized things; it's the nature of things. It happens. It's what happens next that's the issue -- is such behavior rewarded, made a part of official doctrine, or is it brought to light and dealt with according to civilized principles?
The practical man will call such analysis navel-gazing (in fact, he has!) and guess what, he's right. I'm not there, I have not seen that particular elephant and I'm unlikely to ever be the Great Mahout. I'm still not gonna stand here cheering while we teach 'em it's fun to stomp on whoever's in the way. Abusing the inconvenient to smooth one's own path is a behavior that tends to spread.
(Sidebar: if waterboarding is not torture, there are a fair number of Japanese military officers
Update: At least one individual contacted me to point out the extreme contentiousness of this topic on one hand and the difficulties of addressing it on the other. While I think it's an important issue of which to be aware, I have far more questions than answers. Absent any chance of resolution, I'm dropping the subject. I shall continue to refrain from torture; the rest of you, you're on your own.