University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Debate Torturing terrorists is a tool to get the right feedback and answers
Terrorists have caused so many deaths in the world. Whenever a terrorist attack occurs, it leaves behind many deaths and destruction of property. Those who survive the attack often end up with serious injuries. Some become crippled for the rest of their lives. Some become traumatized in their entire lives. The memory of the attack keeps on haunting them. Such trauma continues to an extent that some people become depressed. In this regard, terrorism is a vice that should be fought by all means. In a ‘ticking-bomb scenario’, there is a bomb that may detonate in an unidentified public place very known. The person who planted the bomb is the only person who knows where it is. The person is held up by the police. However, person is not willing to give the information to the police. Torture will be the only means to extract the information. A suspected terrorist should never be forgiven for a terrorism activity (Aringo, 2004: 13). Therefore, torturing a terrorist to get important information that can save people is a justifiable means.
There are many reasons to support the argument of torturing a terrorist to get information that is relevant to save the general public. First of all, when a terrorist or a suspected terrorist is tortured, he or she is likely to give relevant information that can be used by the security agency to protect innocent people. For instance, if a terrorist is captured and through torture he or she reveals that there is a planned attack in the future, then the government or the appointed people will take necessary measures to ensure that the planned attack does not occur. Suppose torture was not used, it is possible that such information would not have been obtained. Consequently, the planned attack would have been executed and the result would be deaths and injuries. Therefore, torturing is justified as long as the security officials are very sure that they have the correct suspect.
Secondly, terrorists are never co-operative. They cannot give any information concerning their plans or other members willingly. Force has to be used to extract such information. The force used is in form of torture. When suspected terrorist is subjected to painful procedures, he or she is likely to give the information that can help in the intelligence service (Meisels, 2008: 21). Usually, terrorists have information about the future planned attacks as well as other members of the gang. If the government and the security officials get such information, it becomes very easy to avert potential fatal attacks. Since terrorists can never reveal such information willingly, then torture becomes the best alternative.
Another reason that supports the use of torture to get information from a terrorist is that usually, the information obtained is timely. A terrorist who is subjected to torture can reveal so many things that are yet to be accomplished by the gang. That timeliness is essential in order to save the public from the hands of terroristic attacks. Without torture, the terrorist would take time before giving correct information. The worst scenario is that without torture, terrorists would not give any information at all. In this respect, torture is important if it can enable obtaining of information in a timely manner. Many people would be saved in time before the planned attack occurs.
Moreover, terrorists cause more pain themselves to soldiers when they capture them. Therefore, if terrorists can cause pain to soldiers who are responsible for our security, there is no reason why a terrorist should be spared from pain as well. Accordingly, terrorists should be put through a painful experience. If the pain they are subjected to makes them give information that is relevant in the intelligence service unit, then they should never be spared it. Since terrorist are dangerous people in the society, no mercy should be accorded to them. They should be forced by all means to give all the relevant information that can help get rid of or capture other terrorists.
Torturing terrorists may prove successful because it sometimes leads to obtaining more information than anticipated. When a terrorist is tortured, he or she may end up revealing a lot of information that was not even expected (White, 2012: 32). For instance, one may be interrogating a terrorist about a planned attack in a given place, only to be told that there are many attacks planned in different places. Therefore, while security forces thought that there is one attack that is planned by terrorists, they get surprised to learn that there are many attacks that have been planned. Such information becomes crucial because it opens the eyes of the security forces to other possible attacks other than the one that they anticipated. With regard to this argument, then it is justifiable to use torture to extract information from the terrorists.
Moreover, terrorists cause too much pain and suffering to innocent people in the general public. They plan and execute their plans against innocent people who are otherwise helpless. Women and children get trapped in the thick of things when an attack occurs in a crowded place. Women and children are most vulnerable group for one reason. Children cannot run or hide from the spot of the attack. As a result, women who are mothers of the children in the scene get caught up while trying to save their children since they cannot go without them. That is not to say that men are spared from the attacks. Many of them die and others get injuries if they get themselves in the midst of the problems. Considering this pain that a terroristic activity can cause innocent people, terrorists deserve to be tortured without mercy. They are evil and merciless. There should be no mercy on them. If terrorists do not reveal relevant information that can save other people, the situation can be very dangerous. Torture is justified to be used on terrorists.
In addition, if one considers that a single terrorist has potential to cause deaths of very many people one would find that torturing a suspected terrorist would be the least form of punishment that he or she would get. Pain on one person cannot be compared to the pain that may affect many innocent people in an event a terroristic attack succeeded in happening. If one person can be made to reveal other members of the gang it can very fruitful. Sometimes, a single person who is a suspected terrorist can be used to track down all other members of the terrorism group. If security manages to nub down many terrorists, it can be very successful because by so doing, many potential future attacks can be averted. It is important to note that when terrorists are free mingling with other innocent people, it is not possible to trace them. It is until they are pinpointed that they become identifiable. It is other terrorists that can tell other people who are involved in the terrorism. If torture can help obtain such information from a single terrorist, then it is beneficial to the general public. Torture should be executed on the suspected terrorists without mercy because a terrorist is not a good person to compromise with.
A terrorist is a criminal who is liable to a punishment after all. Other people who commit other forms of crimes are subjected to punishments. Terrorism is even a greater crime that deserves even more severe punishment. Therefore, torture is not unjust to a criminal who is a danger to the national security itself. Since all criminals must be punished for their actions ultimately, torturing terrorists can be taken to be a form of punishment too besides being a mechanism of extracting information from them. Many terrorists end up giving in to torture and surrender. Consequently, they tell the interrogators everything that they know regarding their criminal activities including their history and future plans. As a punishment, terrorists deserve it. As a means of extracting information, torture must be used. That way, torture achieves the objective of obtaining the needed information while at the same time serving as a form of punishment.
Many potential terrorists may stop their activities at the prospects of getting caught and get subjected to torture. The torturing mechanism should be so severe that it discourages any person who may attempt a terroristic activity. Those who go through the torture may vow never to get involved in terrorism again in their life. They think of the pain that they went through and they stop any temptation to engage in terrorism. Therefore, the torturing process should serve as a punishment that sticks in the mind of the person even afterwards in the future. In this regard, torture will not only be useful in helping get the relevant information, but also it will help to discourage future attempts of terrorism by the prospective terrorists.
Moreover, torturing a suspected terrorist may serve as lesson to other people who may be tempted to get involved in terrorism. They learn from the terrorists who have suffered a painful experience. The thought of getting caught and subjected to the same torture should be enough to discourage any one who may be thinking to engage in terrorism. In this respect, the torture must be so severe that it causes fear in people who may be influenced into terrorism. If torture achieves this objective, it will have helped a great deal in curbing terrorism. Whenever one person is tortured and serves as a lesson, there is overall reduction in the potential occurrence of terroristic events in the future. In addition, that helps to dismantle the unity of terrorists and decrease their numbers. All these results add up to help alleviate the occurrence of terrorism.
Under normal circumstances, the risk that a single person may expose many other people to is very great to be ignored. As already stated, a single person has a potential to destroy and kill a large number of people. Considering such a risk, it is justifiable to use any form of torture on a suspected terrorist. Interrogating a single person can be the source of information that can end up saving the entire nation (Ramsay, 2006: 42). Putting one person under pain is justifiable if it can save more innocent lives. Note also that torturing only puts physical pain on the person. The pain is temporary because it ends with time. Such torture cannot be compared to the deaths that such person can cause besides the injuries that leave behind long lasting disabilities. Killing is permanent. There is no reverse about it. In this regard, the benefits of torturing a single person for the sake of the welfare of the many are many and outweigh the cost of torture (Ginbar, 2010: 32). If a person can be put into a temporary pain and lead to saving of many lives, then it is worth the torture.
In addition, it can be argued that with the advancements in technology, it is possible for the intelligence service to get the right person. Exchange of information between different intelligence service agencies around the world makes it even easier. The possibility of subjecting an innocent person to torture is low. In this regard, it means that the person who ends up in the intelligence unit for interrogation is most likely to be the right person. In other words, it is less likely that the person who is caught for the interrogation is the wrong person who is otherwise innocent. Therefore, torture should be applied on the suspected terrorists without considering the possibility of the person being innocent. Terrorism is a criminal activity that should never be subjected to compromise.
In conclusion, torturing terrorists as a means of extracting information from terrorists is justified. Terrorists are dangerous people and any means that can be used to get them from the society should be used. Torturing suspected terrorists has proven to be successful for it helps get information from the terrorists. In addition, torturing can be used as a form of punishment to terrorists. It is also used to discourage potential terrorists from engaging in the terroristic activities. It should be argued that pain on a single person should be used if in the end it leads to saving many lives. The only worry is that the person tortured could be innocent. However, considering the argument put forward, in the modern intelligence service, it is rare to arrest an innocent person because before an arrest is done, proper investigation has to be done. Sharing of intelligence information between intelligence units from different places in the world assists in this process.
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