The moral issue of torture is one that has come under scrutiny by many national and international organizations as of late. To talk about torture one must really understand what torture is. As taken from Dictionary. com "1. a. Infliction or severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion. b. An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain. 2.
Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony. 3. Something causing severe pain or anguish". This is just the literal meaning of the word but doesn't entail the great horror that usually accompanies torture. As stated in the "Ticking Bomb" example given on the instruction sheets, "The interrogation won't be pretty, and the prisoner may never recover. Shall we do whatever is necessary?" On what moral level is bringing a human being to humiliation, unbearable physical and mental abuse, and most of the time an ultimate end ever an acceptable practice?
Torture should be as unthinkable as slavery. In principle it is: since World War II, governments the world over have agreed to ban torture without exception, even when at war or facing acts of terrorism. International treaties banning torture and other, inhuman, and degrading practices are among the most widely ratified treaties in existence. It is not just the United States that endorses these practices; it is over 150 counties according to the United Nations expert on torture Theo van Boven. Since the United States has gone to "war on terror" in Afghanistan, the president and other top officials seem to think that we are not actually "at war" rather these detainees are outside the realm of prisoners of war (POW) status and they don't have rights under the Geneva Conventions. Now governments are returning alleged terrorists or national security suspects to countries where they are at risk of torture or ill treatment.
This is just a reminder as to why the U.S. did not join the International Criminal Court because they have the "bad man" mindset knowing that they will or already use these tactics. There are many reasons as to why torture is immoral and three of these such reasons are; torture is an unreliable source of information and can work against a government, torture is illegal under most every nations' laws, and torture is just plain immoral and that is the reason it is illegal. Torture as a means of interrogation may result in false statements, for a person under torture is likely to say anything to lessen the pain. Thus information received under torture is inadmissible as evidence in legal proceedings in the US and overseas.
Mistreatment of people creates resentment and anger in the individual and his family, friends and community, and therefore any government-sanctioned torture here is certain to generate more hateful opponents of the US. The official use of torture by the President or another governing body in the U.S. (as given as a replacement on the instruction sheet for this paper) would nullify US efforts against torture abroad and undermine U.S. human rights policy. It also would signal to other governments that when faced with a special situation, any behavior is acceptable. It has been proven by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, United States Institute of Peace and The Crimes of War Project that legitimizing torture, even on a small scale, or any form of cruel treatment brings the principles and ethics that society is based on down. Especially if the U.S. uses it because to the rest of the world we are looked up to as the most law-biding nation, yet we bend the rules to fit each circumstance and look for the loop holes which brings further scrutiny on specific things such as; a POW not being a terrorist detainee and are somehow outside the realm of human rights laws against torture. Not only can torture be unproductive it can also work totally against a nation that uses it.
For instance if the U.S. didn't enforce the universally recognized right to not be tortured it could be potentially alienating a slew of international allies. All over the world torture is forbidden by law and for good reasons. United States and international law prohibit torture under all circumstances. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, "no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". The United States has ratified the Geneva Convention against torture as an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is inflicted intentionally for purposes such as obtaining information or a confession. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in 1994, and Congress later implemented the treaty by passing the Torture Victim Protection Act.
Torture also violates the Fifth and Eighth Amendments. No political or military objective or public emergency- whether it is to fight terrorism, a state of war, the threat of war, or an internal political problem- can justify torture. There is no justification for torture because it is just plain wrong and immoral. Some might argue that under a utilitarian's point of view that in the situation of a "ticking bomb" the total happiness of society would justify the torturous interrogation. This could be off set if it was the leader of a faction. Maybe he was popular elect, even from a terrorist nation, could his loss then be worth more points than the American losses.
It is hard to say because those are theoretical situations, but torture itself is alive and thriving in more than 150 countries, including the United States. Torture is rampant in over seventy countries and in eighty countries people have died as a result. That is a horrific number to take in considering it is banned worldwide through laws and treaties. Many Americans find it hard to believe that such atrocities go on, even within our own borders.
As stated in the instruction sheet, for Donald Rumsfeld or President George W. Bush to give the ok to torture a detainee that would in turn give countries with a less establish society and judicial structure to abuse the privilege saying that, "If the United States can do it under certain circumstances than so can we". Torture in general is just immoral. Think of why so few movies portray victims being tortured. It is because the race of humans as a whole saves a special part in our hearts for those who are tortured. Mel Gibson tends to portray these types of movies in a way that doesn't even need to be "Holly wooded-up". In The Passion of the Christ and Braveheart, it pains almost any human to see another human endure such pain and suffering, which shows that if it is that embedded in our bodies (somewhere) then it must be wrong.
Moral objectivist's and relativists would agree on this as well because to an objectivist some things are just right or wrong and in the case of torture, saving that tiny spot in our hearts where we know it is wrong proves the claim true. Relativist would believe it is wrong based on how they feel about it and how it affects them and as one would imagine they wouldn't want to be tortured. These prove the immorality of torture because; it is illegal word wide with rational and moral reasons, accepted that it can work against a country that uses it and, righteously is a transcendental truth beyond humans. There cannot be any exception to the rule whether in wartime, political instability, fighting terrorism or even to defuse a nation full of skepticism towards terrorist factions.
Once an exception is made, especially by a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (U.S. ), there is no way to logically bring justice to those who use torture in future situations. It would bring about the illogical and childish influence of the "do as I say, not as I do" motto. Torture should be condemned by every country and punish those accordingly who do not abide by these superior human dignity rights.