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The Ethics of Torture Essay

Torture is causing pain and suffering to gain information and confessions. It’s a traditional, historical, well-understood term. Waterboarding is a form of torture in which a bound, gagged prisoner is forced to breathe in water. There are several techniques but all produce the same effects, a physical sensation of drowning and a psychological sensation of panic, fear and loss of control. Calling it anything other than torture is absurd. You wouldn’t call a bank robbery a “cash gathering technique,” even if the president said it was so.

There are no such things as “enhanced interrogation methods. ” That is the euphemism the Bush administration used in 2002 when they were redefining torture so the president could authorize it. There is never an excuse to torture a person, not even during war. It undermines our cause, endangers our soldiers on the battlefield by encouraging reciprocity, and it breeds more enemies of the United States than coercive interrogation methods will ever allow us to capture. As recently as November 12th of this year, Herman Cain and Rep.

Michele Bachmann said during a Republican presidential debate in South Carolina that they would approve waterboarding of prisoners to extract information. They denied that waterboarding is torture, even though it’s been classified as such since the Spanish Inquisition. “Very disappointed by statements at S. C. GOP debate supporting waterboarding,” Senator John McCain wrote on Twitter two days later. “Waterboarding is torture. ” This is a man who was a POW during the Vietnam War. Having been tortured at the hands of the North Vietnamese, he knows first-hand what that kind of treatment can do to a human being.

If we truly believe ourselves to be a model for the world and an example for all of history, then why would we practice torture? When you pour water onto someone until he gasps for air and feels as if he’s drowning, you’re not enhancing your interrogation. You’re putting him through a hell as physical as it is psychological. You’re torturing him, by any sane definition of the term. When we deny any sort of justice or due process to individuals in the name of protecting America, we become the ultimate hypocrites.

How can we as a nation, hold other nations to standards that we’re not meeting ourselves? In 2009, Dick Cheney told Fox News that, “Those interrogations were involved in the arrest of nearly all the Al Qaeda members that we were able to bring to justice. ” Cheney’s statement begs the question, how many innocent people were imprisoned and tortured in our fanatical hunt for possible terrorists? Well, out of about 775 detainees held at GITMO, 420 were released without being charged. Less than 10 were ever convicted of terrorist activities.

The abuse of prisoners can occasionally produce good intelligence but more often produces bad intelligence, Under torture a person will say anything he thinks his captors want to hear — true or false — if he believes it will relieve his suffering. Often, information provided to stop the torture is deliberately misleading. Senator McCain has said that while being tortured, he was asked for the names of all the men in his regiment. He gave his captors the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line instead.

The most obvious thing we can do is stand as an example of a nation that holds an individual’s human rights as superior to the will of the majority. Write your congressmen and tell them that the sanctioned use of torture by the government is wrong. If we as a nation build a wall of fear with the rest of the world, it’s a decision with far-reaching negative consequences. Through the violence, chaos and heartache of war, through deprivation and cruelty and loss, we are always Americans, and different, stronger and better than those who would destroy us.


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