tedster - 5:42 pm on Apr 8, 2011 (gmt 0)
First, a URL is not a link. I think your questions are confusing the two.
1. Yes, you can remove URLs and return a 410 Gone.
2. If you do that, you also want to remove all links on other URLs that point to those URLs that are now gone.
3. A 410 response is not an orphaned URL. An orphaned URL, by definition, is content served with a 200 OK status.
The bigger question is not just "can" you do this, but "should" you. That requires quite a detailed analysis of your situation, what backlinks would now have no target online, whether you will lose much traffic because link equity is no longer being circulated through those removed URLs.