It depends on how it's done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it.Italics mine. So that's that: when bad guys torture, it's bad. When good guys torture, it's good. Apparently that's the modern Republican Party's version of moral clarity.
Earlier today, Josh Marshall suggested that this kind of thing feeds into Rudy's popularity:
For all his problems of temperament, authoritarianism, ignorance and general ridiculousness, I know most people don't see him that way. The sheen of 9/11 is real for Rudy. And many otherwise sensible people see him as a generally moderate guy on social policy who couldn't be as stupid as Bush in managing the country's foreign policy but would still be ready to kick some ass to keep everyone safe. He's the only one of their crew who could put even a few reliably Democratic states into play.Actually, I suspect it's Rudy's other campaign plank that really explains his popularity. Sure, 9/11 is a big part of his persona, but his crime reduction record in New York City might be an even bigger one. Think about it: in the eye of the public, he's literally the only presidential candidate who's actually accomplished anything concrete. He made New York City livable. It doesn't matter whether this is true; it only matters that this is what people think. And no other candidate has anything close to it. All they can say is that they sponsored a bill or survived Vietnam or ran a company. Big deal. But Rudy, regardless of how he did it, can say that he actually governed a political entity and made it better. Considering the low opinion most people have of politicians, that's a helluva powerful asset.
By the way, also note how smoothly Rudy turned the waterboarding question into an attack on the liberal media. He really knows how to hit the base's hot buttons. The guy's good.