Jeff Jacoby at the Boston Globe adopts what I think is a morally sustainable position on the use of torture. He declares himself against it even if its use were necessary to save a city. Unlike other pundits, Jacoby allows for the possibility that coercive interrogation will work; that it might save the lives of innocent people. He is simply unwilling to pay the moral price that is necessary to save them. Jacoby writes:
On this page a few years ago I wrote several columns arguing that torture was never acceptable - not even "as a last and desperate option" in the war against jihadist terrorism, a war I strongly support. At a time when not only conservative hawks but even some notable liberals were making the case for using torture to thwart Al Qaeda, I contended that the cruel abuse of terrorist detainees was something we could never countenance - not just because torture is illegal, unreliable, and a threat to the innocent, but because it is one of those practices that a civilized society cannot engage in without undermining its right to call itself civilized.
Torture very often does work. When Dick Cheney "urged the CIA to release memos which he says show harsh interrogation techniques such as water-boarding work," according to the BBC, he did with the certain knowledge that some al-Qaeda members divulged critical information under duress.