Is it ever ethically justified to torture a terrorist to save millions of innocent lives, or is it always unjustifiable to torture a person? Imagine one summer day when all the news stations broadcast a message saying that a terrorist has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City and that the bomb will detonate in approximately one hour and two million civilians will parish. The news then says that the terrorist has been captured, but the only way to find out the key information to stop the detonation is by torturing the terrorist.
Although torturing the terrorist is the nly method of retrieving the location of the bomb, the torturing of an individual is not ethical. No matter the severity and impact of the crime, the torturing of an individual should never be justified due to its inhuman methods, ineffectiveness and immorality. The United States legal code defines torture as “any action that is specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering” (“CIA tactics: What is.. “). It is used for punishing, interrogating, seeking revenge of a third party or victim.
In order to be considered torture, there must be a threat f death, severe pain and suffering, and the use of mind altering drugs or methods to either the suspected terrorist or another person (Cohan 1596). The United States CIA built secret prisons called “black sites,” where several enhanced interrogations have taken place. These “black sites” were in countries like Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, as well as in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (“Were the interrogation methods… “).
Altogether there are roughly fifty-three methods of torture some of which are sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, astration and, the most frequently used technique, waterboarding. Since 2002 more than seventy-five detainees have died in the United States’ custody and roughly twenty-five of those detainee deaths were confirmed as homicides (Greenberg 193-194). The use of torture has been around since approximately 4 A. D. with the Romans and their slaves. In the earlier years of torture, the methods were mostly beatings or castrations, but began to get more excruciating as time progressed.
The use of torture began to diminish in the early 20th century because of laws, documents or petitions to stop orturing. However, the practice never fully ceased to exist. Amendment 8 of the United States of America’s Constitution prohibits the use of cruel and unusual punishment. Also, the 1949 Geneva Convention established and addressed in Article 31 that “No physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against protected persons, in particular to obtain information from them or third parties” (qtd. in Finley 38).
Furthermore, the Universal Document of Human Rights states in article 5, that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Love). In recent years, torture became more prominent in the beliefs of society after the attacks on September 11, 2001. The use of torture and its methods are inhumane and horrific. Some of the worst torture methods are waterboarding, sleep deprivation and being chained naked out in the cold. One of the most brutal forms of torture is one that about three-fourths of United States citizen agree is extremely brutal and that is the use of rectal feeding.
In this method, a prisoner is laying on a table or on all fours and the food is being pumping into their anus. It desensitizes an ndividual, goes against every human’s personal rights and is extremely inhumane (Jordan). Is it truly justifiable to degrade and disrespect a prisoner to the point of desensitizing them? Rectal feeding is not the only extreme inhumane method of torture, sleep deprivation is too. In one case reported, there were prisoners being tortured using sleep deprivation.
They were being kept awake for more than one-hundred and eighty hours, either by standing or being placed in an extremely uncomfortable position not being able to move, while their hands were chained above their heads and the guards were elling at them (Collinson and Perez). Demanding and forcing a prisoner to stay completely awake for countless hours is both malicious and brutal. Out of the fifty-three enhanced interrogation techniques the most famous inhumane method is waterboarding. It is where a prisoner experiences the sensation of being drowned and nearly dies.
Waterboarding is described as restraining a prisoner, either on their back with their feet higher then the head or hung upside down; while placir over the prisoner’s face and pouring water over the nose and mouth to simulate drowning (“CIA Tactics: What is… “). One pecific example of a prisoner experiencing waterboarding was Abu Zubaydah, accused member of Al Qaeda. After countless hours of being subjected to the harsh waterboarding techniques, Abu became completely unresponsive to the point where bubbles started intensely pouring out of his mouth (Collinson and Perez).
The technique of waterboarding should never be used as a method of enhanced interrogation because of its extreme nature. Its methods are performed to the point of people passing out or choking, coming close to drowning. What has the world come to where a person can be nearly killed for information? Not only are the torture methods inhumane, but they are also ineffective and the information obtained is often falsified. A human being’s mind is not always reliable when it comes to providing information, especially when the prisoner or detainee is sleep deprived or under enormous amounts of stress.
This causes them to provide false or unreliable information to the authorities (Robbins). After a certain amount cloth of time and multiple torturing periods, a person would most likely falsely admit responsibility or relay incorrect information of the dates, names and events. As a result, causing more urmoil for the investigators to determine and disseminate correct information. The use of force is also a poor technique yielding unreliable results. It damages the collection of sufficient information and brings about false confessions and misleading information in order to end the torture (Robbins).
Forcing a person to do something that they do not want to do will always yield bad information, no matter the circumstances. A few years ago, CNN News released a report pertaining to the 9/11 cases, that demonstrated the ineffectiveness of the techniques used by the CIA to retrieve information from uspected terrorist. In this report, it stated that the techniques used were poorly executed, deeply flawed and resulted in falsified information (Collinson and Perez).
If the interrogators from the CIA would have set up better regulation methods, the information being extracted from the terrorist may not have been fabricated to a certain extent. No matter how hard the investigators try to retrieve information, they will not be able to obtain reliable facts as a result of the stress and torment inflicted on the detainees. The morality of torturing is another big issue that makes torturing an individual njustifiable. When a detainee is tortured, they are subject to a loss of human dignity.
In an article produced by CNN News from the 9/11 attack, there were 119 detainees in the CIA Detention Program and of those 119 detainees, 26 were tortured and wrongfully held because the authorities had no clear information to justify their detention in the program (Collinson and Perez). If the authorities knew the evidence and information was not clear beyond a reasonable doubt, they should have never tortured or kept the detainees in the program. In Iraq, some of the prisoners experienced being orced to remove their clothes and kept naked for several days.
Furthermore, some were forced to perform sexual gestures on themselves while being filmed, threatened, some were even raped by guards and sodomized using a special chemical illumination and a large wood stick as a way to be degraded (Greenberg 194). Why would the guards or anyone in general abuse a person sexually as a way of disrespecting them? Another way prisoners were disrespected was through the use of routine strip searches. During these searches, certain body parts such as the anus, vagina, testicles or mouth were horoughly and painfully examined to humiliate and strip the prisoners of their human dignity (Finley 91).
No person, even if they committed a heinous crime, should have to go through such harsh and humiliating searches as a means of control or embarrassment. It goes against every human right within the Constitution or the Declaration of Human Rights. Torture violates the basic morals and ethical guidelines, forcing prisoners to live in an environment without respect, dignity, limitation and understanding (Finley 154). If the prisoners are in an environment where they are beaten, abused, stripped of heir human rights and dehumanized, detainees are reduced to less than a person.
Therefore, when a person is tortured their human rights and dignity are violated multiple times, so that the authority figures feel powerful and for the prisoners or detainees to feel humiliated and worthless. Although the evidence shows that torturing other individuals in unjustified, proponents see no problem in torturing others to punish them or to get what they want. In a poll conducted between December 11th and December 14th, 2013 Americans believed waterboarding and other aggressive methods of enhanced nterrogation techniques are justified, because they produced important information from the suspected terrorists (Sheets).
Although many Americans believe that using torture produces information, CNN News released an important report on torturing that demonstrated that techniques used by American officials were highly ineffective in trying to retrieve information from the alleged suspects. The report stated that the tactics of torture being used were poorly executed, deeply flawed and resulted in falsified information (Collinson and Perez). Proponents of torture also claim that the environment that the risoners lived in was not extremely harsh or cruel, rather fitting of their crimes (Finley 150).
In contrast to this statement, many prison conditions are very harsh. In some prisons, six inmates would share a cell that was approximately four feet by eight feet, without lights, beds and running water. The toilet was a hole in the floor and the rooms had a foul odor (Finley 87). Proponents also state that hurting the terrorist/prisoner is a method of using self-defense to save the lives of not only themselves, but also others from being severely harmed or killed (Greenberg 62-63).
In refutation to this point, Article 2(2) of the Torture Convention states that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture” (qtd. in Greenberg 66). However, the facts show that the beliefs and evidence to support the claims of the proponents are wrong and falsified. The use of torture undermines the democratic society of The United States of America, because it goes against ethical and moral values for which our nation was founded and built upon. The methods of torture are inhumane and unjust.
The information obtained is often ineffective or falsified and the use is immoral and dehumanizing. Therefore, torture is unacceptable. Through the use of torture and illegal imprisonment or detention, many citizens within the United States as well as every country are at a loss. In certain circumstances when torture does bring out the truth, the risks of acquiring false information during other times are not worth the efforts. Incorrect information acquired from torture could bring about more delays in action, increased government expenses and overall harm to the situation rather than a resolution.