Is torture necessary for national security?

Assertion: Torture is necessary for national security.

    The proposition side believes that torture is one of the only ways to prevent future terrorist attempts and enforce the security for our people. Torture is not something that should be used often, just when it is necessary to save lives. Torture is necessary under a so-called “ticking time-bomb scenario.”, says Charles Krauthammer,  a graduate from Harvard Medical School and contributor to the Washington Post and Time Magazine. He for example wrote,  “Torture is an impermissible evil. Except under two circumstances. The first is the ticking time bomb. An innocent's life is at stake. The person you have captured possesses information that could save this life. He refuses to divulge.”  “It is a knowledge-based approach. It is about outwitting the detainee by using a combination of interpersonal, cognitive, and emotional strategies to get the information needed. If done correctly it's an approach that works quickly and effectively because it outwits the detainee using a method that he is not trained, or able, to resist.”
Torture is the same as justifying an act of self defense. According to Mirko Bagaric, a columnist for the newspaper, The Age, “torture is defensible and necessary is because the justification manifests from the closest thing we have to an inviolable right: the right to self-defense, which of course extends to the defense of another. Therefore, torture does not go against the morals of our country."
    Torture is worth the temporary pain to the victim to save lives.  The American people accept torture as a necessary tactic for security. 52 percent of Americans say, “torture is justified in some cases to thwart terrorist attacks.” According to Fox News,  “More than two-thirds of Republicans say torture can be justified.” If it is what our people want, and it is for the purpose of protecting our people, then it is for the best. According to Mr. Areyeh Spero, human events columnist, “we must choose the life of the innocent over the condition of the guilty. Unlike the innocent American citizen, the terrorist has a way out.”  

Due to these arguments and countless others, the proposition side believes that in certain live altering circumstances, torture is necessary for national security, as it is an act of self defense.

Opposition: Torture is not necessary for national security

    The proposition side insists that torture is a way of self defense that is justified by the possibility that it will prevent from future terrorist attacks. Yet, evidence for the opposition supports the fact that other methods of interrogation are superior to torture, and  are much, much more effective. We, the opposition believe that torture is not necessary for national security.

    Torture is not necessary because information from the United States Military states that information obtained by torture is generally not reliable. “Torture victims generally tell the interrogator what they feel he or she wants to hear." This view is shared not only by many interrogators in the field, but people like past-Attorney General John Ashcroft and Sen. John McCain, a victim of torture himself. Interrogators have also found that by using a softer approach, they have been able to elicit more information. "This approach also avoids the embarrassment of torturing innocent people.” In addition, Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1 states:

"Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yieldsunreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."

    Torture, as well as being ineffective, draws negative attention to the United States. When we torture, we increase terrorists’ ability to recruit, and enhance their appeal among fence-sitting populations.According to veteran interrogators from multiple armed services, as well as the FBI, “the number one reason militants flocked to Iraq was U.S. torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Force Base, CIA black sites, and the various foreign countries to which we continue to outsource torture through the extraordinary rendition program.”

“There are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who

maintain that the first and second identifiable

causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq – as judged

by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters

into combat – are, respectively the symbols of

Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.” Former Navy

General Counsel Alberto Mora


“The bottom line is these

[enhanced interrogation] techniques

have hurt our image

around the world, the damage

they have done to our interests far

outweighed whatever benefit they

gave us and they are not essential

to our national security.”   

Admiral Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence

     Torture jeopardizes our troops’ safety."It removes the stigma of torturing prisoners and it creates more enemies, therefore the military is one of the top voices against torture.", says Truman Project.“The number of U.S. soldiers who have diedbecause of our torture policy will never be definitivelyknown, but it is fair to say that it is close tothe number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. "How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me–unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.” says U.S.  Air Force interrogator Major Matthew Alexander, author of How to Break a Terrorist

    Torture is immoral and cruel. The psychological symptoms can often be worse in the sense that person can never recover from that, and may in the end, be in such despair and pain that they take their own lives, especially if they don't have treatment or support around them," Ann Marie Slaughter Former Dean at Woodrow Wilson School and Princeton University. Terrible methods are used in order to force detainees to confession, or more commonly, false confession. The methods used are cruel and clearly create false information from detainees.

Methods used:

"1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.

2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.

3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.

4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.

5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.

6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt." -ABC News

    The methods used for torture are so inhumane that they cannot be tolerated. Torture creates false evidence as well as creating more violent conditions for soldiers in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For those reasons and countless others, the opposition side believes that torture is not necessary for national security.

What was our opinion?