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Enhanced Interrogation and Torture

Under a 1994 UN convention, torture means "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted" to obtain information. Still some countries including the US have adopted interogative techniques that can be viewed as tortue. The main questions in this essay are:

  1. Are these torture techniques effective?
  2. Is it moral to use them?
  3. What is the general reaction to these methods?
  4. Are there alternatives to these methods?

Are these torture techniques effective?

Like any subject, torture is accepted according to some paoples opinions and totally unacceptable by others.

Supporters of the enhanced interrogation techniques have jumped from claim to claim about their usefulness. They have asserted, for example, that harsh treatment led Mr. Mohammed to reveal the plot to attack the Library Tower in Los Angeles. But that plot was thwarted in 2002, and Mr. Mohammed was not arrested until 2003. Recently, interviews with unnamed sources led The Washington Post to report that harsh techniques turned Mr. Mohammed into an intelligence “asset.”, ( Alex Knapp | Thursday, September 10, 2009, An FBI Interrogator on the Effectiveness of Torture) .

This shows that there are people who think torture is effective.

On the other hand, a very large number of people don’t thing torture should not be used and that people using it should be prosectuted under the international laws.  The UN Convention has been ratified by 136 countries including the US. The UN explicitly banned torture after the second world war, when its general assembly included a prohibition against torture in the landmark universal declaration of human rights. Article 5 states: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." From this many people feel that torture goes against the convention.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN  said, “First, subjecting prisoners to abuse leads to bad intelligence because under torture a detainee will tell his interrogator anything to make the pain stop.

Second, mistreatment of our prisoners endangers U.S. troops, who might be captured by the enemy, if not in this war then in the next.” His is clearly against the techniques of torture.

Is it moral to use these methods?

Many people the world over think that is it not moral to subject a person to any for of torture. Even the international community passed laws to illegalize  any form of torture. One such law is the UN Convention of 1994, the outlawed torture.

What is the general reaction towards these methods?

“The natural first reaction on seeing the photographs of American soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners in Saddam Hussein’s old dungeons was to ask: Why are we doing such things to them? With time, however, Americans have come increasingly to understand that it is equally appropriate to ask: Why are we doing such things to ourselves? Why dismantle the laws that have made our country worth fighting and dying for against states that torture?”  Philip Gourevitch, a writer for The New Yorker. The write represent many people who have a negative reaction to torture.

There are several people who think torture is some thing we can not do without. Most of these argue that torture is an accepted evil in some cases.

Are there alternatives to these methods?

One of the alternative is building trust between the interogator and the interogatee as Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer and a deputy director of the State Department's office of counterterrorism, recently wrote in the Los Angeles Times, "What real CIA field officers know firsthand is that it is better to build a relationship of trust … than to extract quick confessions through tactics such as those used by the Nazis and the Soviets."

Another alternative is analysing the items and evidence colocted from the suspects. This provides a lot of information.

Generally there are several alternatives to get information rather than torture. During torture the suspect may end up saying what the interogator wants them to say even if it is not true just to make the pain stop. 

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