Another persuasive reason why our government should not hesitate to use torture in preventing terror is the impotency of traditional legal interrogation techniques in gathering intelligence. For example, in the ten years since September 2001, hundreds of detainees were captured both within and outside the United States. This group of detainees has “offered up very little information through traditional legal interrogations.” (Andersen, 2002, p.21) The fact is FBI and CIA agents are subject to so much frustration during conventional interrogation that they are pushed to use torture. This sentiment is reflected by public commentators too, as in an op-ed column for a major newspaper, conservative thinker William Buckley asserted that “while torture may be necessary, it is an ugly necessity and thus should be kept out of sight. We should not torture an al-Qaeda prisoner as a general rule. But to torture the one who knows where the hijacked, airborne Boeing 737 is beaded is an exemption to the rule, though it is not one we would wish to codify. Some acts of warfare, like some intelligence, are works of art, not articles of war.” (Buckley, as quoted in Andersen, 2002, p.21) Hence, while torture might be necessary during interrogations, law-enforcement officers should celebrate or be boastful about it. They should always hope that such techniques become unnecessary in the future.
Buckley’s reasoning is not so much to justify torture but rather to accept exceptional circumstances under which it is committed. Concurring on Buckley’s views, author Binoy Kampmark presents legal re-interpretations of torture in the War on Terror context. According to him, two dominant narratives are seen in the ongoing investigations on torture. The first narrative involves legal exclusion and qualification of detainees’ rights through a limited interpretation of the rules of engagement.
“Second, the memoranda in question see the terrorist subjects and their due treatment as subjects of only lexical significance; if they are not combatants, it follows that certain conventions do not apply; if the Convention Against Torture does apply, it only does in rare instances of ‘extreme’ pain. What does not exist on the statute books or in the case law is evidently permissible. The report from the Office of the Attorney General (21 August 2002) regarding the applicability of the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishments is peculiarly revealing in noting a flexible threshold of torture US officers should be cognisant of. Such measures as the ‘deprivation of light and auditory stimuli’, the use of hoods in transporting the inmates, was regarded by Diane E. Beaver, Staff Judge Advocate, as permissible as long as the ‘government objective’ was discernable (176). Nothing improper was seen in the authorised measure to create an impression of imminent harm to the inmates’ life.” (Kampmark, 2005, p.65)
Hence, in conclusion, for all the aforementioned reasons, torture is permissible in the ongoing War on Terror operations. This is especially valid, since access to vital information at key moments could save thousands of innocent civilian lives in the United States.
Andersen, Martin Edwin. “Is Torture an Option in War on Terror? Interrogators Increasingly Frustrated with Hardened Al-Qaeda Terrorists Are Considering the Use of Tactics Once Unthinkable for U.S. Law-Enforcement Officers.” Insight on the News 17 June 2002: 21+.
Bell, Daniel M. “Can a War against Terror Be Just? or, What Is Just War Good For?.” Cross Currents Spring 2006: 34+.
Bowden, Mark. “The Dark Art of Interrogation: The Most Effective Way to Gather Intelligence and Thwart Terrorism Can Also Be a Direct Route into Morally Repugnant Terrain. A Survey of the Landscape of Persuasion.” The Atlantic Monthly Oct. 2003: 51+.
Kampmark, Binoy. “Torture, Truth and Liberty: Placing the Conduct at Abu Ghraib in Context.” Contemporary Review Aug. 2005: 65+.