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Is Torture Ever Justified?

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Message Mike Gracia
In today's political climate, the word torture seems to be synonymous with dictators of 'other'countries, whose barbaric regimes invoke disgust in the west.

It is very important, however for us to question our own governments at every opportunity, to ensure that it is not a case of the 'pot calling the kettle black'. Of course in the UK, for example, we live in a free country and not a dictatorship.

The same can be said for the USA. Never the less, if the every day person does not make themselves aware of changes to the political and legal structure of their country, then we risk the possibility of taking small and gradual steps towards living in an oppressive regime ourselves.

In the wake of 9/11, the US has been much more aggressive in their foreign policies, especially in matters of security.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba, was setup in 2002 to hold detainees of the 'War on Terror'. This detention camp holds hundreds of 'prisoners', who have had no trial since their incarceration. In a series of meetings between Bush administration officials, acceptable interrogation methods were discussed. These included waterboarding (Where the victim is made to feel like they are about to drown). These techniques were ultimately approved. * Other techniques used for gathering evidence in Guantanamo bay include severe sleep deprivation, exposing prisoners to hot or cold conditions, making them sit or stand in uncomfortable positions, and making the prisoner sit with a bag over their head, while military dogs are held barking at close range.

Some people have been quoted as saying that they feel that these aggressive interview techniques are justified, when the information being sought can save the lives of thousands... but at what point does a government that permits the use of 'torture' type interrogation techniques against suspected terrorists become as corrupted and shameful as the oppressive and cruel fanatics they claim to be fighting?

Surely, to argue that you are liberating people from cruel tyrannical dictators, and then use torture techniques against your prisoners is alarmingly contradictory? The Geneva Convention was put in place to protect prisoners of war, and prevent them from being mistreated by their captures. The USAUS soil (Ie. They are HELD by the US, but on Cuban soil) – then the Geneva Convention protecting the rights of prisoners of war do not apply. government has been quoted as saying that, in effect, because the detainees are not on

Take for example the case of (at the time) 15year old Omar Khadr Even though Omar Khadr was seriously injured during his capture (He was shot 3 times in a battle), his interrogation started as soon as he was taken into custody.

- he asked for pain medication for his wounds but was refused;

- during interrogations a bag was placed over his head and US personnel brought military dogs into the room to frighten him;

- cold water was thrown on him;

- his hands were tied above a door frame and he was forced to stand in this position for hours;

- he was not allowed to use the bathroom and was forced to urinate on himself. **

When a country that can hold and cruelly interrogate hundreds of people (let alone children) for several years, waiving those people's rights to protection under the Geneva Convention, and with no right to a legal and fair trial, how much can we trust that government. Especially when that same government say's the reason it is using its military to aggressively move into another country is to free its people from an oppressive dictator that tortures his people.

On a personal level, I feel that if you are engaged in a 'war on terror' then you must be careful to ensure that you do not become as cruel as the terrorists you claim to be fighting. If to win the war on terror you have to quash the civil liberties of your own people, torture suspected terrorists to aid confession, and then deny a fair trial to people that confessed under such duress, then will you ever really be able to say that you won the war on terror, or will you have merely swapped one man's terror for another?

* Source:


Omar Khadr's case was later thrown out by a military judge, who stated that the case did not meet the definition of those subject to trial under the new laws in effect at the tribunals. (

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