Usage of Torture as a Tool for Interrogation

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The concept of Individual autonomy is based on one’s capacity to be one’s own person. This is done under the assumption that one is leading a life that is based on reason and motives considered to be personal and specific to that individual and not the product of manipulative or distorting external forces. Gewirth’s argues that human rights are equal to all human beings and that those who find that they are being denied these rights have the authority and moral right to claim them from those withholding them. He expresss this through the following analogy that Person A claims some right X against B by virtue of Y. If this were to be put in the context of torture, detains of The War on Terror have legitimate claim to equal human rights against their treatment by the US on the grounds that they are morally entitled to those rights just as the US government and its citizens are. Gerwith views human rights as “being personally orientiented and are a normative necessary moral requirement that is essentially for the good of that indivdual, “(Gewirth, 1984). If I were to focus on the operative word which is “normative”, it would suggest that there is a underlying mandatory moral obligation. The formal principle of Individual autonomy suggests that all individuals have the right to be treated equally unless there is evidence that suggests otherwise.

The war on terror does not justify abandoning and rewriting moral laws and obligations that have held society together for years. On the contrary, I can argue that the war on terror violates the basic and moral meaning of what it means to be human. It takes away the essence of morality that is essential in development of an individual’s their moral compass. This can affect, the detainees’ perception of what is morally right and what is not. They have been stripped away of their self-identity and their given right to flourish. Torture has the ability to strip the victim of their identity leaving a sense of self betrayal for giving into pain and confessing. I dare go a step further and suggest that this is a type of self-inflicted non-touch torture; which more psychological harm as opposed to physical harm – maybe class it as self-inflicted non touch torture – more psychological that physical David Sussman (2005) – get reference and add more if possible – mention the woman who killed herself.

The concept of just combat killing is considered worse that torture. This argument is based on the stages of combat warfare which assume: Stage A – 1) just combat killing is the total destruction of a person, 2) torture is usually – only partial destruction or temporary incapacitation of a person and 3) the total destruction of a person is a greater harm than the partial destruction of a person is, Stage B – 4) just combat killing is a greater harm than torture usually is, 5) just combat killing is greater is sometimes morally permissible, 6) torture is sometimes morally permissible. (Shue, 1978)

These conditions do not take into consideration the type of harm done to an individual as they seem to focus on the amount. Physical and Psychological harm done, no matter how little has been dismissed as preferable to killing someone. This implies that torture is permissible as it does not amount to death. The justification for just combat killing is to minimise harm, however, it begs the question, how do you minimise harm by torturing a helpless and defenceless person? If where are to apply this reasoning to the treatment of terrorist detainees, this shows that the detainees are now defenceless victims whom have exhausted all means of defence and are completely at the mercy of the American soldiers who have taken custody of them. Shue observes that interrogational torture is a means to an end which violates Kants Moral Philosophy by treating the victim as a, means to an end. The torturer will have to justify that on moral grounds, torture is the only option that is available and is of extreme importance to those concerned. The problem here is, how does one prove that? Kantian Ethics makes it is difficult to justify the importance of using torture in the proverbial war against terror simply because it is not the morally right thing to do. He also touches on the subject that treating a victim of torture as a means to an end whereby the torturer is acting with specific intent and is fully aware of the results of their actions. This shows that the defence that is used within the 8th amendment is not liable enough to negate one for using torture on the grounds of acting in good faith (expand further on this). One of the most important critiques raised by Shue is that it is simply impossible to keep torture within controllable and reasonable bounds. This is further supported by the evidence shown by the escalation of “legally approved” “interrogation” methods used by the Joint Task Force (.e.g. rapport building with the detainees, lying, shouting and yelling and pushing them into a false wall to exaggerate the impact) to sodomising detainees, severe sleep deprivation, the use of death threats and other humiliating acts of cruelty that were carried out on detainees.

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Gearty argues that the criminal justice model is deprived of the necessary room to operate when it comes to the subject of terrorism. She argues that acts of torture should be able to be prosecuted under this model as well regardless of who is breaking the law. She believes that in doing so, social responsibility and awareness is raised to protect potential victims of torture with a strong focus on fair judicial proceedings, proof and evidence. Most importantly, if adopted at a national level, actors with personal interests will be deterred from using politically motivated violence. If it is a matter of national security, working with other nations and international organisations with the power to implement and enforce international law could further strengthen the model and reduce the need to use the language of terrorism.

The terrorism model does not facilitate the conditions needed for the criminal justice model to work as it is very vague and does not give the time needed to follow procedures as they normally would in normal court proceedings. It disregards the rule of law and individual dignity. Anti –terrorism laws do appear on paper to be in support of human rights for detainees and suspected terrorists however, the reality is that the laws have been presented to look as such. It fails to put the same necessary safe guards in place that are present in criminal law. The Bush administration legal efforts to combat the war on terror enabled some in the administration to be granted new “power” that allowed to act as they fit. This was highlighted by The USA Patriot Act 2001 which was hastily produced and signed off by congress with very little judicial overview. This act allowed all law enforcement agencies both domestic and international, the power to carry out sweeping searches and unlimited surveillance privilege on anyone they suspected to be terrorists. This act eroded all legal barriers that gave courts the opportunity to carry out checks that ensured that this power was exploited. This is a violation of Article 12 of the TDHR. The war on terror appears to have granted the US the liberty to by-pass the law making process and directly violate human rights liberties. Gearty argues that the use cohesion especially, torture is vital to its Foreign Policy as it part of its Grand Strategy Policy. This acceptance of torture has seen it wide spread to use in other countries which coincidentallyreceive donations or some form of aid or assistance from the US wide spread of torture The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, Chomsky N, – get a reference. The US’s disregard of both domestic and international laws especially human rights laws undermines the power and faith the power have in human rights and in the US as a nation that once was considered to be an advocate of the very rights that it is violating. It takes away the power of human rights from the powerless and to those, who never fully supported human rights and democracy, it reinforces the imperialistic view of the West as a sovereignty that is superior to all cultures and the lack of universality of human rights. The US’s strategy of fighting the global war on terror by all means possible relates with/ to Michael Ignatieff’s theory which states that “ we are faced with evil people and either we fight evil with evil or we succumb”. Terrorist movements like Al Qaeda or Hamas are dealth cults’ and it is redemption they are after, and they seek death sure that they have attained it or is it Richard Posner. When human rights advocates or intellectual use such language to address a moral issue which directly deals deals with rights gives/ speaks those looking for reasons to go around TDHR to protect HR at all costs. If such reasoning was to be applied to the US’s justifications it means that sometimes acts of evil are necessary oto stop those we consider to be much worse. If we continue to develop it begs the question of where do you stop and draw the line? At this rate, is torture not enough to draw the line? It is evil but is it permissible is if it against those we consider to be evil and threaten our values and culture? (Gearty, 2006)

Deductive and Consenquelist Fallacy dismiss the reasoning for putting forward the ticking – bomb theory as a justification of torture. Deductive fallacy is described as a deductive argument that is invalid, the premises of the argument might be sound but could lead to a false/ illogical conclusion. The reason why the tick-bomb theory falls to deductive fallacy is because the premises of the argument are not valid and the conclusions arrived from these premises are not valid. It does not take into account that there are other factors to be taken into account unbeknown to the premises that can alter the very rigidly set premises and conclusions it sets. The ticking bomb theory has a major constraints which is the fact that it has set its logic in set premises that cannot be altered and are assumed to hold true for every situation.

This is problematic in the sense that if an interrogator follows this logic there is a possibility that they can torture the wrong person, some may falsely confess under duress due to an altered psychological state as from the torture, there could no actual bomb, the person captured might not have information that is required to disarm the bomb, they could die during the interrogation before giving the interrogator the necessary information therefore the boom detonates and kills everyone anyway! It does not give the interrogator to the opportunity to employ more humane and legal methods of interrogation as they would use in a normal case. The possibility that torture is not guaranteed to work every time is overlooked. Some terrorists are trained to endure high levels of pain and can endure hours without confessing, in some cases, they die during interrogation. Despite the now known use of torture as an interrogation method, this does not appear to deter new recruitments from signing up and joining terrorist group. To an extent, I could argue that the global war on terror has normalised torture as part and parcel of what to expect should you be captured as a terrorist and will receive the necessary training to cope with it. The time constraints that premises of the ticking-bomb theory erode the effectiveness of the methods of torture used. Some of the methods used require that the victim be subjected to that treatment over a long period of time before they can fully experience the effect of the torture or their will is broken for example Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in solitary confinement however, his will was not broken.

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