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America should say ‘no’ to torture

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Illustration by: Birmy Michelle | Staff Illustrator

Reuters published March 30 a poll to get an idea of U.S. citizens’ views on torture, and it showed that Americans overall support it.

Despite the high support for use on terror suspects, torture is not morally or legally right, and in no way is it useful to furthering the United States.

After CIA torture reports were released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2014, it became common knowledge that the U.S. conducted torture abroad. The report brought negative backlash on the CIA and the U.S. for using such inhumane and barbaric tactics in an attempt to gain information from terrorist suspects. These suspects were not always confirmed to be involved in terror networks in any way, but were treated as though they were nonetheless.

Nearly two-thirds of the poll’s respondents support the torture of terrorist suspects to forcibly get information. Of the total number of respondents, 25 percent said it was “often” justified, and 38 percent said it was “sometimes” justified. These numbers attempt to add pretense to the plainly black-and-white issue of torture.

The initial problem with torture falls under a moral dilemma in which a person is asked to put another human being through excruciating and unbearable pain physically, mentally and emotionally to hopefully “gain” something from the tortured. These extreme acts put the person in control through almost as much stress and mental distortion as the person being tortured, and through time can desensitize the torturer to their barbarism.

Torturer Tony Lagouranis said, “You have to twist your mind up so much to justify doing that.”

Lagouranis was a military intelligence specialist who, while at first eager to start trying coercion techniques, soon found out that conducting torture came at a cost. When he came back home he experienced strong anxiety during very basic activities, such as riding the train or going to the airport. The fear he imposed on others overseas quickly became his own fear and anxiety as he came back home to civilian life.

Aside from torture being inherently cruel, the Geneva Convention stated clearly that it granted every human a certain amount of dignity and a certain set of rights, which no country’s government could take from a person. This makes torture not only morally wrong, but also lawfully wrong as defined by the international community.

The most important fact about torture is that it simply does not work. The excuses drawn up to explain torture suggest it helps the U.S. intelligence to stop attacks and death from happening in the future. The dependability of the information gathered by torture is questionable at best. The committee that reviewed the torture report released by the CIA found that the torture conducted on prisoners never led to intelligence of any imminent threat.

The high amount of support for even the occasional use of torture is tied to the number of terror attacks that have happened in the last year alone. These acts of violence are creating a fear that leads people to falsely believe in extreme measures. Fear is not a reason to allow for atrocities to be committed or for the United States’ moral principles to be tainted.

Violence and atrocities are being committed in the world, and all for deplorable reasons. However, even for good reasons, the U.S. should not further this senseless violence and cruelty. The American people should not let fear harden their hearts and allow for more cruelty to flourish.