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Use Of Torture As A Counter Terrorism Tool Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1503 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Torture refers to subjecting intense pain and suffering to a person leading to mental and physical pain so as to obtain certain information that the person is concealing. Therefore, Levinson (p.32) concurs with most scholars that torture is the intentional infliction of pain and suffering to persons usually for a certain purpose. Torture is mainly used as a tool by the United States and other countries to cause a breakdown in the personality of suspects so that they are subdued to give certain information. The most common methods employed during torture include, severe beating, sexual assault, suffocation and electric shock among other methods.

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Krauthammer in his article states that it was the Bush administration that led to the birth of torture in the United States landscape. According to Krauthammer, no one, not even the executive s allowed to use torture as a tool to obtain information. He further insinuates that the information is nor normally worth the torture. Security agencies should go back to the drawing board and adapt to forensic science techniques. There is need for the police and other security agencies to be empowered through training them on how to obtain information. The UN Convention and Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibit torture (Kinsley, p.1).

There have been questions as to whether torture should be banned as a means of compelling persons to give certain information. Torture has had severe consequences that are far reaching from the pain that the victims feel. While we accept that terrorism is a major headache worldwide, it is imperative to consider that nobody is guilty until proven innocent.

Moreover, the Human Rights law is strongly against torture as a tool used to coerce suspects to volunteer certain information. Human Rights watchdogs are always against any pain and suffering inflicted intentionally. The United States has always found itself on the receiving end with such draconian laws that have put its image on the spot light. Many people who hear about the torture stories of the survivors or victims often hold a grudge against the government. This is due to the intentional pain and suffering that the suspect is made to undergo.

There is an assumption that torture save millions of lives. The major question that makes torture to be at stake is the 50-50 chance. Normally, those who torture suspects assume that they have vital information. What if they do not? The suspects would have already suffered innocently. Krauthammer has put forth certain rules that need to be followed by the United States government. Proponents of torture fear that if the United State government follows these rules to the letter, then it might find itself not torturing anybody at all.

We should acknowledge the fact that we are already living with the terrorism problem and are doing nothing on a personal level to reduce terrorism. Do we need the tool of torture to reduce terrorism? The answer here is a loud, NO. Indeed, we do not need any form of torture to reduce terrorism. We can be community police who will be watching our environment on a daily basis to avert terrorism.

However, torture should be used as a counter-terrorism tool whenever there is inside information leaked from terror cells regarding an impending terror attack. In this case, torture would enable the suspects who have been nabbed to volunteer certain vital information that may save more lives. In this case, torture is positive as it leads to saving more lives.

Therefore, in this case, torture is warranted as a tool to ensure that information is given out by the suspects. Such classified information is usually timely to enable the security agencies to act fast towards averting potential terrorist attacks. The problem comes in when the person being tortured is an innocent person. Most of the times the security forces that inflict torture usually have a fifty-fifty chance that the person being tortured is the actual suspect.

In my opinion, torture should not be used as a counter-terrorism tool since it does not acts for the best interest of the general public that live under the constant mercy of terrorists. However, I strongly suggest that the use of torture should be regulated by the international laws. The regulation of torture is key towards ensuring that as much as it is used as a tool, it remains under control so that the suspects are not killed as a result of the infliction of pain and intense suffering.

It should be further noted that during the torture process, vital information is normally obtained that is core to fighting terrorism, though with a 50-50 chance of obtaining such information (Kinsley, p.33). Therefore, torture aids in obtaining such information. Critics insinuate that torture has been successfully used as a counter-terrorism tool since it has enabled the police and security agencies to make the suspects to give very important information. As such, torture is worth the task of obtaining such vital information.

In addition, the United Nations Convention against Torture prohibits the use of torture as a tool in the fight against terrorism. Torture has been condemned in many states due to the adverse effects that it usually has on its victims. The United States does not support torture at least in theory. There have been various reports and even documentary pointing to the Guantanamo bay prison where it is alleged that prisoners are tortured and even killed. The latest reports indicate that terrorism suspects are usually kept in this prison facility where they are tortured to the end.

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Research indicates that the information obtained during the process of torture is normally worth the entire process. Most of this information is used by the law enforcement agencies as well as security agencies to form solid evidence and develop on a case. It may also be useful in averting further deaths and property damage in case of a planned or botched terrorism attack.

Andrew Sullivan is a strong advocate against torture and describes torture as the exact opposite of freedom. He further states that it is the denial of freedom from humanity and the taking away of selfhood. Andrew Sullivan is therefore against the use of torture as a counter-terrorism tool. Torture has indeed been the tool that most of the security investigation teams use on victims despite the negative image that the punishment comes with.

Torture creates a negative picture or image of the police and investigating teams. Hence, this raises the question as to whether the information is worth obtaining in the manner that it is obtained via the use of torture.

At times, torture is subjected to the wrong victims or suspects. It is for this reason that I advocate for the government to regulate the use of torture. In my ardent opinion, torture should only be used after investigations are complete and that they point towards a particular person. Otherwise, it would be unfair to subject an innocent person to torture when in fact they know nothing about terrorism. Investigating teams have to be succinct in their work to avoid the occurrence of this kind of errors; otherwise, it would amount to massive infringement of human rights.

On the other hand, Krauthammer supports torture as a tool that assists the investigating teams to obtain useful information that indeed help them to unravel certain cases of terrorism. It is obvious that terrorism is not morally right. However, where saving many lives is concerned, torture would indeed be the ultimate solution. Terrorism has been a global problem and continues to be a problem in the wake of several terrorist cells.


The government should consider using other forms of punishments or methods that would coerce suspects to give certain useful information. However, this again poses a problem as to whether the terrorist suspects will volunteer information. Most of the terrorists usually take an oath that can only be broken through the use of torture.

Personality breakdown has been proven to work just right for them. According to Krauthammer (p.2), the United Nations Convention should consider monitoring the submission and administration of torture as a tool that is effective for obtaining information from terrorist suspects. This should be carried out according to the laid out plans.


The pain and suffering caused by torture are often extreme and traumatizing. In fact, there is possibility that the suspect being tortured does not have the vital information required to fight terrorism and save millions of lives. Torture obviously goes against human rights and infringes on individual rights. It has often been suggested that the torture victims usually have rights just like the other people. Human Rights Watch has been stern in discouraging this form of punishment. I therefore do not support torture.


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