Justifiable Torture

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Torture is the act of inflicting physical and psychological pain. The three main purposes that Democratic governments use torture are to intimidate, to coerce false confessions, and to gather accurate security information. Torture is not only a method that has been used in countries notorious for corrupt government dictatorships such as Russia, Japan, and Germany but has also been prevalent in democracies. The use of torture in democracy is a shame, not only do secret CIA kidnappings, and the indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay go against the basic elements of a democracy, it has also been proven to be ineffective or less effective than traditional intelligence gathering, and it creates a slippery slope effect. The four basic principles of a democracy are having a political system where people can choose and replace officials through free and fair elections, the active participation of the people as citizens, in politics and civil life, the protection of the human rights of all citizens, and a rule of law where all laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens. Physical torture techniques (strikes to the body and using everyday instruments to inflict physical torture) were first recorded in “military punishments, especially among British lists of punishments; in the context of American slavery; in penal institutions; or during policing and military operations in French and British colonies” (Rejali 4). France, England, and the United States are the main democracies of modern history prior to World War II. The use of torture is highly used in Democratic governments; torture will be examined in a democratic system. Torture is a very right and left handed issue; those on the right side argue that it goes against the very values that Democratic Governments try to instill in their citizens such as equality, human rights, and liberties. Those on the left side like to refer to the ticking bomb scenario and point out terrorist acts such as 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. Critics on the left side argue that Pearl Harbor was due to the fact that the United States did not have a strong intelligence agency Congressional probers basically blamed the disaster on a lack of imagination and watchfulness on the part of the American commanders on the scene, combined with poor coordination and exchange of intelligence in Washington… In the view of President Harry S. Truman, the Japanese attack might have been prevented "if there had been something like coordination of information in the government." President Truman observed in his memoirs: "In those days the military did not know everything the State Department knew, and the diplomats did not have access to all the Army and Navy knew. (Intelligence throughout history). Torture is a method that is commonly used by the CIA, “After the attacks of 9/11, former President Bush authorized the creation of extralegal detention camps where Central Intelligence Agency operatives were told to extract information from prisoners who were captured and held in secret” (On torture and American Values). Torture is highly used and many believe that torture is an effective method of gathering intelligence; however this does not address whether it is justified in a democratic system. Torture is actually not as effective as many people think and it is never justifiable due to the fact that, “the United States has historically incorporated these international definitions into its military manuals. The 1992 U.S. Army Field Manual, for example, instructs soldiers that both the Geneva Conventions and U.S. policy prohibit acts of violence or intimidation, including physical or mental torture, threats, or insults as a means of interrogation” (Torture).

Torture was first used in Roman times, judges used this technique to unearth crimes “In 1612, the Italian jurist Sebastian Guazzini likewise defined torture “as the distress of body devised for extracting truth. It was invented by the Civil Law, as a mode of...
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