Torture inflicts severe pain to force someone to do or say something, and has been used against prisoners-of-war, suspected insurgents and political prisoners for hundreds of years. In the 1970s and 1980s, governments began to identify a specific form of violence called “terrorism” and to identify prisoners as “terrorists” (1). This is when the history of torture and terrorism begins. While many countries practice torture against political prisoners, only some name their dissidents terrorists or face potential threats from terrorism. Governments have used systematic torture in conflicts with rebel, insurgent or resistance groups in long running conflicts since the 1980s (2). It is questionable whether these should always be called terrorism conflicts. Governments are likely to call their non-state violent opponents terrorists, but only sometimes are they clearly engaged in terrorist activity.
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Torture has always played some role in federal, state, or local policy. Prior to the innovation of the penitentiary system in the early 19th century, forms of physical punishment that we now consider torture were extremely common (1). Torture by United States forces in wartime is not unheard of. And the persistent use of torture against low-income communities of color has also been well-documented. The issue of torture in relation to terrorism was raised publicly in the United States in 2004, when news of a 2002 Memorandum issued by the Justice Department for the CIA suggested that torturing Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees captured in Afghanistan might be justified to prevent further attacks on the United States, where in reality it does not prevent anything (2). If we all took a closer look to what the terrorist torture does to humans we would see that it doesn’t justify any means to be able to gather information. At times the United States goes too far when it comes to the techniques they use to gather information from a suspected “terrorist”.
When it comes to the 9/11 attack, there is still no means for the harsh ways of torture for the prisoners held liable. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration began using “torture-lite” techniques against suspected terrorist detainees (3). These techniques have included water boarding, sleep deprivation, long-term use of loud noises, forced nudity, and forced standing. If any civilized person stood a day on these torture tactics, it would be I insane. It’s like basically saying that you have no respect for human life, which basically means nothing to anyone, and that shouldn’t be the case. Torture is by far the worst thing that any state or nation should do. There are obviously different ways to gather and receive information from the suspected terrorist groups, torture is never the answer and it shouldn’t justify anything. The Al Qaeda attacks of September 11, the ensuing declaration of a “global war on terror,” and the rapid development of more stringent counter-terrorism efforts have pitched the issue of human rights and terrorism into high relief (2). This is true not only in the United States, but in a number of countries who have signed on as partners in a global coalition to crack down on terrorist activity. Indeed, following 9/11 a number of countries that routinely violate the human rights of political prisoners or dissidents found tacit American sanction to expand their repressive practices (3).
At Abu Ghraib, U.S. military personnel and CIA interrogators were revealed to have gone several steps further, implementing forms of torture that involved lasting physical damage, sexual humiliation, and sometimes death (2). In the years immediately preceding the 9/11 attacks, there was no question that torture as an interrogation practice is out-of-bounds for American military personnel. In 1994, the United States passed a law prohibiting the use of torture by American military under any circumstances (2). Furthermore, the United States was bound, as a signatory, to comply with the 1949 Geneva Convention, which prohibits torturing prisoners-of-war (3). The Abu Ghraib province west of Baghdad in Iraq became a household name globally when news of American troops torturing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib (3). Scandal erupted when photographs taken by American military police, depicting their abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees, became public in April, 2004 (3). The photographs revealed torture based largely on the sexual humiliation of the detainees. Seven soldiers engaged in the prisoner abuse were subsequently convicted in court martials on dereliction of duty and assault and battery charges. The Abu Ghraib prison scandal caused lasting harm to the American reputation and increased skepticism about American motives in its declared “war on terror.”
What the people fail to see is that the United States government thinks that it’s okay to beat and torture these people until their last breath to say what they want to say. I remember we watched a movie in one of my classes where it dealt with the torture of the American Government to receive information regarding any more of terrorist attacks. This poor man said lies because of the way the government was torturing, so basically he just told them what they wanted to here. That just comes to show people that what the United States government is doing is beyond wrong and cruel. At times these issues come with looking at the fact that obviously these people are treated differently because of their race. At times the United States feels as if they have so much control over the people that they fail to see that there always are some kind of consequences when it comes to torturing people and at times torturing the wrong people.
Human rights are relevant to terrorism as concerns both its victims and its perpetrators. The concept of human rights was first expressed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which established “recognition of the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” (2). The innocent victims of terrorism suffer an attack on their most basic right to live in peace and security.
Torturing another human being is inexcusable, no matter the circumstance. Some may justify that the knowledge a terrorist might have could save millions of lives, and that in this case, the ends justify the means. To an extent I agree that the loss of an individual’s well-being to save so many others can sometimes be justified. However, torture cannot be justified in this way because it is incapable of achieving its end; torture is not only inhumane, it is also very ineffective.
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When an individual is tortured for information, that person will say anything you want them to. While being tortured, an individual’s number one priority is to make the pain stop by doing whatever the torturer asks. However, if you are torturing someone, they probably don’t have much respect for you, and will have no qualms about lying their ass off. If a torturer is trying to get information about a certain subject, he obviously lacks the information he needs, and has no way of being able to tell whether or not the person being tortured is being truthful. Therefore any information from a person being tortured is unreliable and unusable.
Torture also promotes terrorism. Terrorist actions against Americans stem from hatred for and a lack of respect towards our country. Whenever we torture a terrorist, members of his organization can use him as a poster child: “Look at what the Americans are doing to our people. Look how inhumane they are. Look at how badly they treat us.”
Though we may hate terrorists for what they have done to our soldiers, torturing them is not a solution. It only continues the cycle. The best thing to do to captured terrorists is to treat them humanely, and give them, and other like-minded individuals, less reason to hate our country.
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