Imagine, if you will, you live in a nation which wishes and claims to be a moral leader of the world. Now imagine that you're interviewing one of the greatest living legal minds for the job of highest law-enforcement agent in the country. Still with me? Good.
Now, imagine further that your nation i a target for vicious enemies, and in the quest to learn what these vicious enemies do, your government uses a technicque so painful and terrifying that many members of your own goveernment claim it's torture. That long and argumentative discussions have broken out on the subject.
Now, imagine that the question is put to this great legal thinker: "Is it torture?" And he responds, "You know, I really can't tell. Let me go study it and I'll get back to you."
So here's my question. If this is something that one of the great legal minds of our time can't tell is not torture without requiring study, isn't it something that just oughtn't to be done on general principles? If it needs to be studied to determine that it is not torture, isn't it close enough that an ethical government should eschew it?