Torture has existed all over the world for millennia but what is torture in America today? The C. I. A. and the F. B. I. have recently used torture against terrorists who were suspected to have vital information concerning American safety. Since torture is illegal in the United States, most of this torture took place at Guantanamo Bay in the southeastern corner of Cuba. Detainees at the detention camp were not entitled to any of the protections of the Geneva Convention due to the fact that Guantanamo Bay is not considered to be within legal jurisdiction of the United States.
Captives at the camp were subject to horrendous “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding, hypothermia, stress positions, and sleep deprivation. Martin describes torture as “… a stain on our great country. ” Even though torture has been known to produce answers and in return save lives, it is still an immoral act. The point of torture in Guantanamo Bay is to extract information from prisoners of war to aid the war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq. Waterboarding is an “enhanced interrogation” technique used by the C. I. A. and other military groups.
When one is water boarded, water is poured over the face to simulate the effects of drowning. Waterboarding can cause extreme pain, damage to the lungs, brain damage, and lasting psychological effects. Molin describes how waterboarding works: “The individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth.
Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth. This causes an increase in carbon dioxide level in the individual’s blood. This increase in the carbon dioxide level stimulates increased effort to breathe. This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of ‘suffocation and incipient panic,’ i. e. , the perception of drowning” (Molin). “Cold cell” torture is another torture technique used by government officials.
Also known as hypothermic torture, Bardes tells us, “Government operatives praised hypothermic torture as the most effective of all the techniques they employed. ” Inmates are put in an air conditioned cell that blasts cold air until they are forced to shiver for hours. The body temperature of the captives drops and can cause brain damage and heart failure. A stress position, or submission position, places the human body in such a way that a great amount of weight is placed on just one or two muscles. For example, a subject may be forced to stand on the balls of his feet and then squat so that his thighs are parallel to the ground.
This creates an intense amount of pressure on the legs, leading first to pain and then muscle failure. Sleep deprivation, another commonly used technique, has been used to keep prisoners awake from twenty-four hours up to six days. Houk explains, “It’s a primary method that is used around the world because it breaks people. It is effective because it induces severe harm. ” Enhanced interrogation is ineffective at producing reliable information. The most common technique, waterboarding, does not yield reliable information on a regular basis.
Extreme pain and stress can actually impair one’s ability to tell the truth. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a torture subject connected to Al-Quada at Guantanamo Bay, was water boarded more than 150 times. He was thought to have known the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden or his courier. During his torture sessions, Mohammed gave false names and places just to end his torture. Mohammed was also witnessed counting seconds until the torture ended on his fingers because he memorized how long it would last. While Khalid Sheikh Mohammad did eventually talk to interrogators, the information he gave was deemed unreliable.
Extreme pain and stress can actually make it harder for a victim to tell the truth. Punishing duress can affect the brain’s ability for cognitive function and memory processes, therefore doing the opposite of that intended by “enhanced interrogation. ” Some people say that torturing prisoners of war is acceptable because it can save lives of soldiers and citizens alike. This is simply not true. The opposition or enemy is more likely to be outraged when they find out that their friends and fellow combatants are being tortured.
For example, one reason many Iraqis despise Americans is because the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Abu Ghraib was a prisoner of war camp in Iraq in which American soldiers tortured and abused suspected combatants and terrorists. Captives were electrocuted, beaten, put in stress positions, sexually abused, and deprived of sleep in order to force information out of them. Pictures taken of this abuse showed captives were forced to stack on top of each other naked, creating a pile of living bodies. In another instance at Abu Ghraib, a prisoner had his hands bound and hung from the ceiling with a bag over his head.
He eventually suffocated and his body was destroyed, leaving his family with no body to bury. This infuriated the community when the pictures were released. An American citizen contracted to work in Iraq was captured by insurgents and was decapitated on video as a direct result of the mistreatment at Abu Ghraib. In the video, masked men explain that they would not stop slaughtering Americans until the torture at Abu Ghraib had been redeemed with blood and souls. It is time to end torture. Some torture leads to more torture.
Torture in China has spread like wildfire and has been subjected to almost 4 million people in “re-education” camps. Watts elaborates on Chinese torture, “…brutality and degradation are common in Chinese prisons. ” One thinks of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and Rwanda when he thinks of crimes against humanity. If the United States wishes to avoid such company, it must completely reject the crimes against humanity rather than defending or rationalizing them. Americans must realize that torture is unacceptable, immoral, and cannot be justified by war.