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Posted By Robyn Cross     April 8, 2021    


Is Torture a Necessary Evil in the US?

In any conflict between a state against another country or a state against a criminal organization, the information is key in determining the winner. As such, various strategies have been used to gather it including spying and torture. However, one should remember that whichever approach is being used to collect data, several principles must be followed. When applying any of them, individuals need to check what human rights state, and whether the international community is in agreement with the strategy. Torture has on several occasions been used by countries such as the United States to gather intelligence on national security issues such as tourism. Nevertheless, the success or failure of turning to it is still debatable. In whatever light one views it, using torture to collect information in the United States is not acceptable since it is inhuman and undermines the country’s legislation. Moreover, the license to torture may be abused as usually is described in students essays

To start with, torture can be defined as the act of inflicting physical or psychological pain to an individual or an organism so as to get some form of fulfillment. It has been justified and employed to reach several objectives including such as revenge or for political purposes. Furthermore, it can be used to deter some actions, to coerce the victim, to punish, to fetch information, or to force the victim to confess to something. For many years, torture has been employed by different countries and institutions mainly as a tool of getting information to ensure that they have the upper hand.

However, due to the effects that torture has on the victim, the international community has prohibited it through conventions such as the Geneva Convention of 1949, the Additional Protocols I & II of 1977 as well as the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Nevertheless, according to Hajjar, two-thirds of the world’s countries still use it to gather intelligence. As a result, some organizations have been formed by different human rights activists and serve as watchdogs to states that still condone or use torture. Due to the effects that the act has, the international community should use its influence to ensure that it is not in use in any state.

One of the reasons why torture should be prohibited is due to the violation of human rights. It is a barbaric form of getting intelligence and manipulating victims to receive what a certain group or state wants. As such, it violates and degrades the dignity of human beings as well as the right not to answer when being questioned by anyone. These rights are engraved in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights which applies to all countries in the world. The declaration should be used in all cases regardless of whether a person is a law-abiding citizen, a terrorist, a prisoner, or a spy. The United States is part of the United Nations and, therefore, should abide by this document. It is also labelled as the democratic capital of the world due to the principles of liberty, the rule of law and tolerance that the country is founded on. There is no case that would call for the sacrifice of these conventions hence torture should not be tolerated in the United States.

Additionally, torture is not an effective tool of fetching useful information and, thus, should be avoided in the US. There are several reasons of its inefficiency. The torturer usually asks for a certain type of information. The victim, in turn, does what it takes to ensure that they are not tortured including lying. In other cases, the victim can be in possession of some piece of information, but because the torturer does not ask, then the victim does not share it. As such, torture becomes an ineffective way of acquiring information, and the United States should turn to other forms of gathering intelligence such as spying that is more efficient.

Furthermore, the United States should ban the use torture as it negatively affects the legitimacy the country. A state that is proud of itself for being a civilized nation cannot be able to be referred to as moral if it continues to commit torture. There would be no difference between the US and those countries that violate human rights such as Egypt, Iran, or China that have been continually using torture as a means of gathering information. Thus, to view itself as a liberal, civil, and moral country, the United States should ensure that there are no victims of torture within its jurisdiction.

Slippery slope theory serves as another reason that explains why the United States should not engage in torture. Following the principle, if the use of torture becomes acceptable in a certain country with regard to specific individual, it can be used against other people. It can mean that close friends and family of a suspect can get tortured for the victim to comply, or to gather additional information. Torturers believe that if nine innocent people go through torture, the tenth person can give a confession. However, this should not be allowed.

On the other hand, there are those who support the act. Some of them use the ‘ticking bomb’ metaphor to show that torture I acceptable. They claim that torturing a victim is meant to avert a catastrophe and save lives. This scenario assumes that a bomb has been planted, and it can go off at any time. The victim knows the whereabouts of the bomb, and through torture, everything that he/she individual knows will be revealed (Bufacchi and Arrigo 360). Nevertheless, this theory is only used to justify saving lives through torture, and the US should not engage in the activity even in cases where officers think that the act will save the lives of citizens.

Another claim that proponents of torture use is that terrorists should not be given human rights because everything they wish to do is murder innocent civilians for their self-satisfaction. Therefore, since terrorists aim to hurt others without taking into consideration the violation of human rights, torture to fetch information should be acceptable.

Lastly, some individuals believe that torture is necessary in extreme circumstances. In crucial situations, where the capture of a terrorist is vital to receive information, enhanced interrogation techniques can be used (Douthat). Specific terrorists can be targeted to get information by intelligence agents as the lives of innocent people depend on the facts obtained.

In conclusion, torture is a violation of human rights that each person in the world is entitled to. As such, the international community, as well as other human rights organizations, should keep on campaigning against it. It is important to devise new techniques that are effective in collecting information that can be used to avert disasters. Moving from torture is not easy and should start by the states stopping from viewing it as a necessary evil. This would lead to the development of other methods that will become more efficient.