Would you authorize torturing an individual in order to save the lives of hundreds? A majority of the population would agree that sometimes torture becomes necessary. Employed during war, many civilians believe torture is justified as a method to retrieve information to save lives and many military personnel would argue that the same methods would be used against their comrades. Contrary to the majority, the use of torture is unnecessary because it harms innocent individuals, provides inaccurate information, and contradicts America’s efforts in making the world a better place.
People have mixed feelings regarding the use of torture to capture terrorist or prevent terrorist attacks. Some can argue that torture is an effective method that can be used to get suspects to speak so that authorities can respond quickly. The use of torture can help soldiers retrieve valuable information from captured terrorist to prevent damage from other terrorist. Secondly, if terrorist are not limited to physical violence and acts of immortality, why should soldiers who protect innocent people be limited to nonviolent interrogation.
Many will argue that terrorist are not afraid to use violence, hence, we should not be afraid either. Last but not least, why should one have empathy towards people who are intentionally causing mayhem and chaos? While these are seem as reasonable arguments to allow the use of torture, there are many consequences and drawbacks that are associated with the use of torture. There have been many instances reported where American soldiers treated other innocent Iraqi civilians in custody with inhumanity and ruthlessness, such as the infamous stories of “Abu Ghraib.
Abu Ghraib has been in news articles for quite some time, and reporters have provided insight on how innocent civilians were thrown in prisons and treated with inhumanity and cruelty. The documentary Taxi to the Dark Side, written and directed by Alex Gibney, is about a taxi driver who was taken into custody at an U. S. military base in Abu Ghraib. He was stripped naked on arrival, chained to the ceiling, and beaten several times a day. After enduring five days of excruciating pain and torture, he died. One must stop and wonder why the American government at Abu Ghraib sanctioned such inhumane methods?
They did not. These techniques of chaining prisoners to the ceilings, using physical violence, and waterboarding were only sanctioned in Guantanamo Bay. However, these practices migrated to Abu Ghraib without any official orders. The guards at Abu Ghraib must have reasoned that if torture was allowed in a military base, why limit these cruel methods to just one base? This misguided reasoning spreads chaos and along with it derives horrifying incidents like Abu Ghraib. American soldiers who were the guards at Abu Ghraib wanted to contribute and help their mission become succeed.
For them, torture was about obtaining information from prisoners by any means necessary to help war efforts. However, the feeling of being superior to Iraqi prisoners led them to treat these innocent men like “dogs” (Gibney). In the article, “The Abolition of Torture,” author Andrew Sullivan argues that torture is not only ineffective but also morally wrong. Andrew Sullivan writes this article in response to Charles Krauthammer’s belief in the need for torture and Krauthammer defines a terrorist “an unlawful combatant.
He lives outside of laws of war because he does not wear a uniform, he hides among civilians, and he deliberately targets innocents” (Sullivan). Knowing that there are many instances where innocent individuals are thrown into prisons as terrorist by government officials. What difference is there between the American government officials and terrorist if both harm innocent individuals? In order for us to sustain faith in humanity, we must treat everyone with humanity in mind; terrorist or not. The use of torture spreads like a forest fire and brings down innocent individuals with it.
Another reason torture is unnecessary because it generates inaccurate information. When facing torture, prisoners will say almost anything to make the pain go away. This often leads to false information and wastes valuable time. The American government approved “waterboarding” as a method of obtaining information from prisoners immediately after September 11, 2001. In an article written by Senator John McCain, who was tortured for years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, he provides an insight on the truth behind the use of torture.
Senator McCain recounts conversation with CIA director Leon Panetta, Panetta stated, “None of the three detainees who were waterboarded provided Abu Ahmed’s real name, his whereabouts or an accurate description of his role in al-Qaeda” (McCain). Khalid Sheik Mohammed was waterboard 183 times, yet he did not provide any vital information that led to capturing Osama Bin Laden. This clearly demonstrates that torture is not an effective method because the results can be inaccurate and often misleading. Finally, yet most importantly, the use of torture reverses America’s efforts of making the world a better place.
For a country to become an example of justice or humanity, its actions must represent its ideals. When the world hears about America’s policy on torture, it contradicts their efforts of going to third world countries to fight off terror and establish democracy. In his article “U. S. Went to the ‘Dark Side’ on Torture,” Charles C. Krulak observes that America’s policy on torture “alienated would-be allies and fueled Al Qaeda’s recruiting efforts. ” Many religionist extremist and terrorist recruiters use incidents like Abu Ghraib to influence individuals to take part in terrorist activities.
Children growing up in third world countries who witness instances like Abu Ghraib can easily be misguided and join terrorist camps. America’s policy on torture causes more chaos and takes away from what it means to be an American. America was founded as country for the free, brave, and ones who believe in democracy. We classify ourselves as the world police and protectors of humanity. However, our government justifies taking Iraqi civilians treating them with inhumanity and putting them through cruel and unusual punishments.
Aren’t these actions forbidden by the American constitution? The American constitution is the building block for American civilization. The constitution along with the Bill of Rights not only protects the freedom of citizens of the world but also guarantees them the right to a trail. What has happened to the beliefs that founding fathers laid out for our country to follow? IF we are to set an example for justice and democracy, we must stop the use of torture. The goal of democracy is that every man should be treated equally.
On the other hand, torture is an act of inflicting permanent pain and grief. Democracy and torture can never go hand in hand. Torture should never be a way to gain advantage over an individual, whether it is mental or physical. Torture is merciless, unkind, and brutal, which can also define the character of the user and becomes a part of his/her human nature to feel a sense of empowerment toward another human being, in other words “the enemy”. As a result, torture influences both sides to ongoing revenge, anger and violence.
Torture served no purpose to initiate anything positive for our world today or tomorrow. Mahatma Gandhi once stated, “An eye for an eye leaves the world blind. ” If the world leaders continue to exercise methods of torture, then there will be no room for the advancement of humanity. America should not use torture to fight against terrorism. As the use of torture is terminated, the world will have a chance to come together and end terrorism because the main root of terrorism is being inhumane and we should not fall in that category by using torture as our way to fight against it.
Courtney from Study Moose
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