The Case against Submitting to an Inner Barbarian: Why Torture Is Never Justified
In a post-9/11 world, where it seems that terrorism is rampant and increasing numbers of extremists threaten the safety and wellbeing of American citizens, is it ever justified to bend the rules of legality and morality while fighting the war on terror? Whether or not the use of torture as an interrogation tactic is justified in these circumstances is questionable because of controversy about its legality, morality, and effectiveness; the use of torture would violate several international and domestic laws as well as compromise American morals and beliefs. Despite this controversy, the United States has employed these tactics in recent years to questionable effect; however, the use of it is illegal, immoral and ineffective. Torture should not be used in any circumstance because it violates American morals, political treaties, and laws, would diminish the reputation of the United States in the world, has not been proven effective by scientific evidence, and would create a future of uncertainty regarding the use of torture.
Torture is never justified because it defies moral values of both humans and the United States. Humans have the obligation to “respect the honor and dignity of other human beings” (Fried), even if that respect and dignity is not returned. Once tactics such as torture are resorted to, which compromise the dignity of another human, the dignity of the person performing that act is also compromised (Fried). There are some things, such as torture, that should never be done simply because the right to “call ourselves decent human beings” depends on not doing them (Jacoby). If humans sink to the lowest level that is torture, the essential abilities to feel empathy, respect, and honor are lost, all core parts of humanity that separate man from all other animals. As a country, the United States also has distinct morals that hold it above resorting to torture. Found in the Declaration of Independence, America was founded on the principle that all men have a right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Applying torture to even the worst of criminals undoubtedly takes away these rights. It takes away the liberty because the victim is held against his will, pursuit of happiness because they are being physically and mentally tortured, and in severe cases, even will take someone’s life. It’s evident that employing torture tactics would compromise one of the most sacred documents in America’s history, one that has set many precedents in the United States. Additionally, as a democratic republic, it is essential to this country’s identity to refrain from torture in order to “retain our character” (Fried). By resorting to torture, a democratic republic, in which the power of the people holds, contradicts its own definition. The United States, as a superpower and developed country, should also be held to higher moral standards and act as a role model to other countries (Cohn). Governments around the world respect the United States for the values it upholds (“On Torture and American Values”). By using torture, the US “undermines the values we are defending” (Knickerbocker), values of justice, freedom, and human rights. Using torture would also lessen the reputation of the United States in the world (Knickerbocker). As a nation viewed as a leader in ethics and moral standards, this country would be stooping to the level of its enemies and also diminish its stature by using inhumane practices like torture. In addition, torture is also not permissible because of its illegality, contradicting both domestic and international laws.
Torture should not be adopted because it violates United States treaties and laws, such as the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention against Torture. Both of these treaties are ones that the United States has signed, and therefore they have become the law of the country....
...‘Identifying the prohibition of torture as jus cogens of international law’
The time when states could completely rely on their national sovereignty without being bounded erga omnes by any rule of a higher instance marked the period of classical international law. Since that time there have been a lot of progressive developments followed by the evolution of the international community that contributed to the shift from the individualistic approach towards the international law by the states, to an increased awareness for protection of the general interest of the whole community. To ensure this protection, the international community recognized the existence of jus cogens, peremptory norms of general international law, which bind all the countries without their separate consent .
Even there is a debate on the issue of the lack of criteria to identify when a general rule of international law has reached the status of jus cogens, it is very well established under international law that the prohibition of torture is clearly one of those norms. While there is a low opposition to this idea by the states, some authors argue on the practice of torture by some of them that could contest the jus cogens status of the prohibition of torture. The legal arguments below will provide that the recognition of the prohibition of torture as a jus cogens is strongly supported by...
...Torture: Controversy and the fine line between right and wrong
Ever since September 11 attacks and the subsequent War on Terror and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there seems to be an ongoing debate in American society about the acceptability of torture as means of extracting information, occasionally rekindled by scandals such as Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. We have seen a disturbing rise in public argumentation in favor of torture, frequently mentioning the so-called “ticking bomb scenario”, in which torture is seen as the lesser of two evils when weighed against thousands or millions of lives that information obtained from the tortured prisoner could save. The never-ending debate about the likelihood of such a scenario aside, use of torture in interrogation is impermissible because it is unethical and inhumane, it is against US laws as well as international conventions the US is a signatory of, and it goes against fundamental values the US was built on.
Psychologists Julio Arenas and Stine Amris (2004), the authors of a study about the rehabilitation of torture victims, define torture as “the infliction of severe pain (whether physical or psychological) by a perpetrator who acts purposefully and on behalf of the state". Torture seems to be universally regarded as inherently unethical and inhumane. Even the most hardcore propagators of this practice resort...
...Torture and Ethics Paper
July 21, 2013
Torture and Ethics
There are many views or definition of the word “torture”, which is often debated by many individuals. According to “International Rehabilitation Council For Torture Victims” (2005-2012), “torture is an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining information or a confession, punishing him for an act committed” (para. 2). “Torture is anguish of body or mind; something that causes agony or pain; the infliction of intense pain (from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure; or distortion or over refinement of a meaning or an argument” (“Torture,” 2013). There are debates about torture and whether or not is unethical or a cruel and unusual punishment. People have been taught to believe that torturing a person is unacceptable and inhumane. However, the torturing of an enemy to get answers is not considered cruel and inhumane especially, when it involves saving the lives of many. This paper will analyze whether torturing enemy combatants or high-value targets violates standards of morality in an American free society. It will also examine whether the act of torture violates basic human rights and if it could have...
ENGL 1301 Composition I
November 9, 2013
Is Torture justified?
What is torture? Basically, this is the action of physically or psychologically hurting a person without their permission and against their will. The torture has many goals such as obtaining a confession or information of the victim, revenge for an act committed by the victim or just for entertainment morbid and sadistic of the torturer. According to the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture, the torture is:
“any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions.”
Torture is not acceptable because it is degrading and ethically wrong, but under certain circumstances torture can be justified. Torture is justifiable if lives of innocent people are in risk or if an...
...The moral issue of torture is one that has come under scrutiny by many national and international organizations as of late. To talk about torture one must really understand what torture is. As taken from Dictionary.com "1.a. Infliction or severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion. b. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain. 2. Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony. 3. Something causing severe pain or anguish." This is just the literal meaning of the word but doesn't entail the great horror that usually accompanies torture. As stated in the "Ticking Bomb" example given on the instruction sheets, "The interrogation won't be pretty, and the prisoner may never recover. Shall we do whatever is necessary?" On what moral level is bringing a human being to humiliation, unbearable physical and mental abuse, and most of the time an ultimate end ever an acceptable practice? Torture should be as unthinkable as slavery. In principle it is: since World War II, governments the world over have agreed to ban torture without exception, even when at war or facing acts of terrorism. International treaties banning torture and other, inhuman, and degrading practices are among the most widely ratified treaties in existence. It is not just the United States that endorses these practices; it is over 150 counties according to the United Nations expert on...
The United States Use of Torture
November 19, 2013
In the decade following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, the United States has seen a constant struggle with militant terrorist organizations. Groups including the Taliban and primarily Al-Qaeda have been part of an ongoing violent conflict in the Middle East. Throughout these struggles with terrorists, the United States have employed various methods of interrogation and intelligence gathering which have included the torturing of prisoners overseas. While this practice was and still is today widely considered to be exceedingly deplorable, it has shown some advantages, none of which justify the means.
According to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, torture is defined as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person by or at the instigation or a confession or to punish the person for an act he or s third person has committed…” (CAT 1). The treaty was ratified in 1994. Following 9/11, the United States became more embroiled in the fight against terrorism than previously seen. Torture became a much more prominent method of gaining information than before (if at all). Led by the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States began to plan and build secret prisons or “Black Sites” where terrorist prisoners would be subjected to, “enhanced...
Torture is the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty. Justify is to guide by truth, reason, justice, and fairness. In any circumstances, how could inflicting pain upon a human being be done in fairness? In any circumstances, how could torture be justified? It cannot.
Torture has been regarded as one of the most serious human rights violations and has been banned by many human rights conventions including The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was ratified by 129 countries including the United States. Furthermore the Geneva Conventions protects the rights of prisoners of war, which was constructed as a result of seeing the horrors of war. Still today, many find the need to argue that there are times when torture is just. This should not be a debate, considering that we already have laws that should put this battle to a rest.
However, officials and leaders find the need to work around the prohibition of torture, arguing that it is needed in given situations. Officials have even proposed a torture warrant that allows torture when granted by the president. This is preposterous not to mention hypocritical, and the same as saying there should be a warrant for murder, burglary,...
...Convention against Torture
Around the world and around the clock, human rights violations seem to never cease. In particular, torture violations are still rampant all over the world. One regime, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, establishes a strong elaboration of norms against torture. Despite its efforts, many countries still outright reject its policies againsttorture while other countries openly accept them, but surreptitiously still violate them. The US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia all have failed to end torture despite accepting the provisions of the Convention.
Israel has used torture since at least the 1970's. It was not till 1991 that Israel ratified the Convention against Torture. It however did not accept the provisions of articles 21 and 22. Their acceptance lead to many improvements in human rights. In fact after a supreme court ruling in 1999 all torture was deemed illegal, even moderate physical pressure. This was a major step for human right organizations, and was praised. The convention against torture along with NGO's such as Amnesty international continue to express concerns to Israel about treatment which amounts to torture and is still unhappy with the situation in Israel. Supposedly in 1999 when Israel banned a number of interrogation...