Torture Debate

September 2007 • Volume 1, Issue 9
Is the U.S. war on terror legitimizing torture?
By Seth Stern

Introduction

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed reportedly was subjected to harsh CIA interrogations that critics say were tantamount to torture. President Bush says information revealed in the interrogations prevented additional terrorist attacks. (AP Photo)
Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed reportedly was subjected to harsh CIA interrogations that critics say were tantamount to torture. President Bush says information revealed in the interrogations prevented additional terrorist attacks. (AP Photo)

Countries around the globe — including the United States — are using coercive interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism that critics say amount to torture. Despite international laws banning the practice, authoritarian nations have long abused prisoners and dissidents, and a handful of democracies have used torture in recent decades against what they considered imminent threats. Republican presidential candidates say they would authorize torture to prevent impending terrorist attacks. U.S. soldiers in Iraq say they would torture suspects to save the lives of their comrades. Human rights advocates worry the use of torture by the United States is legitimizing its use globally and destroying America's moral authority to speak out against regimes that abuse prisoners in far worse ways. U.S. officials credit “enhanced interrogation” methods with averting terrorist attacks. But many experts say information gained by torture is unreliable.

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:
Global Issues
International Law and Agreements
Military Law and Justice
Terrorism and Counterterrorism