I have been trying to figure out a way to write this, so that I don't alienate or offend anyone, well anymore than I usually do...
In regards to the torture argument, I have heard two things repeatedly. 1) It worked, 2) There are bad people and we have to protect ourselves.
For the first argument, there is little evidence to say that "torture" worked in any substantive way. Maybe we got a couple names, but I really haven't seen evidence of anything more than that. Now there was a lot of bogus information extracted - which is the real problem with these illegal tactics. Our own military warned the powers that be against torture, they were also concerned that it would increase the chance of our soldiers experiencing poor treatment if captured.
"The unintended consequence of a U.S. policy that provides for the torture of prisoners is that it could be used by our adversaries as justification for the torture of captured U.S. personnel," says the document, an unsigned two-page attachment to a memo by the military's Joint Personnel Recovery Agency."
For the second argument, it's a bit more difficult. Yes, there are people that would love to see the American way of life damaged - there always have been. That's one of the prices we pay for being a superpower.
"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin
It's important not to forget that a number of the people that were subjected to these "enhanced interrogation techniques" or to the degradation of Abu Ghraib were nobodies, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or were sold out by some greedy warlord.
Someone you know does something bad - lets say they are a drug smuggler. Would you support the Federal government knocking down your door, throwing a hood over your head and sending you half a world a way so that they can "extract" information from you? Now imagine that you repeatedly tell them that you don't know where the person is or what they do - you haven't seen them in years. They tell you they have witnesses that you have been seen with this person. They decide that the only way to get the information they need will be to use harsher techniques - they keep you awake for days, they strip you of your clothes and your dignity, they keep you in a small, cramped box, then they strap you to a board and pretend to drown you.
Is this right? Is this what you would want done to you or your family? Is that American? I honestly think that very few Americans would wish this on any of their neighbors - so why do we have so little regard for those around the world?
When I was little, my mom always used to tell me "Two wrongs, don't make a right". I think the Government and the American people could use a refresher on that lesson.