IS TORTURE EVER JUSTIFIED?

Bush administration officials from the President down have sworn on a stack of bibles that the U.S. does not use torture, never has, never will. Except that the New York Times has now unearthed a secret Justice Department document that authorized such extreme techniques as simulated drownings, extreme ranges of heat and cold, prolonged stress conditions, head-slapping and isolation. Moreover the Bush government conducted a systematic campaign to mislead Congress, the American people and the world about these policies.

Quite apart from the morality of these barbaric methods (explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Convention to which the U.S. is a signatory), there is a question of their effectiveness. Most of the experts in these matters generally agree that torture produces false confession. Moreover a nation that uses torture leaves itself open to having its captured soldiers tortured by the enemy. Also torture does immense harm to America’s image in the world cf. the Abu Grahb prison.

In view of these considerations, do you think torture is ever justified? Before you answer consider the following scenario:

Montreal police have learned through sources that two terrorists, one them carrying a”dirty bomb” capable of killing thousands of people, have entered the city. The police are able to apprehend one of the terrorists, though not the one carrying the bomb. Under intense questioning, the terrorist in custody refuses to tell his questioners about where and what time the bomb will be detonated.

Would the police be justified in torturing their prisoner in order to intercept the bomb and save thousands of lives?

What do you think?

3 Comments »

  1. 1
    SUZANNE Says:

    The thing is, “torture” probably means different things to different people. That’s why Bush thinks he’s not using torture while others think he is.

    I mean isolation: not exactly stretching the guy on a rack, right?

    If you’re talking about physical harm that draws blood, makes bruises or somehow damages the human body, I’m pretty categorical.

    For things like isolation…I’m less categorical.

    “Different stress” conditions. What they’re deprived of their Cable?

    I liked the old blog desidn. Red suits you.

  2. 2

    Suzanne:

    You are right, the definition of torture is key. I think what Cheney and others did was take a number of methods forbidden by the Geneva convention and stuff them into a defiinition acceptable to the CIA.

    The new blog design still has a rich red and I thought we needed something fresh for the holiday season to come.

  3. 3
    Chimera Says:

    How people answer the question you pose will depend largely on their upbringing. But for the most part, they’ll at least be thinking: “Torture is not okay if it’s used against me, but if it gets the job done against the other guy, goforit.”


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