Torture

April 18, 2003 • Volume 13, Issue 15
Should it be used to interrogate suspected terrorists?
By David Masci

Introduction

Members of an Israeli human rights group demonstrate a torture technique commonly used against Palestinians by Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency. Soon after the May 19, 1999, demonstration, Israel's Supreme Court voted unanimously to ban the use of torture.  (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)
Members of an Israeli human rights group demonstrate a torture technique commonly used against Palestinians by Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency. Soon after the May 19, 1999, demonstration, Israel's Supreme Court voted unanimously to ban the use of torture. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

The war on terrorism has sparked a new debate in the United States over the use of torture to extract information needed to protect public safety. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, some government officials believe that using physical force against suspected al Qaeda terrorists is justified, especially if they may know about upcoming attacks on civilian targets. Others reject torture as both unreliable and an affront to legal and civilized norms of behavior. Meanwhile, the State Department's annual human rights report documents the continuing state-sanctioned use of torture in more than 100 countries on five continents. The report — and now the fall of Saddam Hussein's murderous regime in Iraq — has intensified the call by some human rights groups for Western countries to arrest the leaders of nations that brutalize their own citizens.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Ethics in War
Jul. 13, 2012  Privatizing the Military
Aug. 06, 2010  Drone Warfare Updated
May 2010  Confronting Rape as a War Crime
Jan. 2010  Truth Commissions
Feb. 27, 2009  Closing Guantánamo Updated
Jul. 2008  Child Soldiers
Sep. 2007  Torture Debate
Aug. 25, 2006  Treatment of Detainees
Apr. 18, 2003  Torture
Dec. 13, 2002  Ethics of War
Sep. 13, 2002  New Defense Priorities
Jul. 07, 1995  War Crimes
Apr. 26, 1972  Status of War Prisoners
Oct. 07, 1970  Military Justice
Jul. 12, 1967  Treatment of War Prisoners
Dec. 03, 1952  War Prisoner Repatriation
Sep. 07, 1948  War Trials and Future Peace
Jul. 07, 1945  Enemy Property
Nov. 20, 1943  Courts-Martial and Military Law
Mar. 15, 1943  War Guilt Trials
Mar. 30, 1942  War Atrocities
Feb. 02, 1942  Prisoners of War
Aug. 11, 1938  Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Domestic Issues
International Law and Agreements
Military Law and Justice
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
U.S. at War: Afghanistan