The Instigator
BEN875
Pro (for)
Winning
41 Points
The Contender
ChristianM
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Interrogators should have the legal right to torture terrorists.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 20,130 times Debate No: 7302
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (31)
Votes (7)

 

BEN875

Pro

This is my first debate on this site so please bear with me. I believe that captured terrorists should be tortured to obtain information and here is why:
1. Interrogation Is Torture
An interrogation is deliberately causing someone pain or anguish in order to extract information out of them. Deliberately causing someone pain or anguish is torture. In a general sense there is a thin line between interrogation and torture. They go hand in hand. Mind control drugs, sleep deprivation, good cop-bad cop techniques, and verbal intimidation are a few interrogation techniques that are currently legal. These methods are less severe but I would still, by definition, call them torture. If you are interrogating someone you are, to some degree, torturing them in my opinion. Therefore, the question of whether or not interrogators should be permitted to use torture is inaccurate. The question should be "how much torture should interrogators be permitted to use?"

2.How much torture do I think interrogators should be permitted to use?
You can't kill terrorism with kindness and you can't expect results without expecting to get your hands dirty. I want a government that will do whatever it takes to protect its people. I honestly don't understand why this opinion is so unpopular. It wouldn't make us just as bad as the Saddam Hussein's and Osama Bin Laden's of the world. There is a big difference between torturing someone for say, being a homosexual, and torturing someone to protect innocent people's lives. It seems that most Americans either don't have the stomach for it or they seem to believe that sympathy for terrorists is somehow a moral virtue.
3. The End Justifies The Means
Sometimes you have to do wrong thing for the right reason. Shooting someone with a gun, for example, is normally an ugly thing that is awful to think about. But if a police officer shoots someone with a gun in order to protect an innocent person we not only justify it but thank god that it was done. Why can't torture be looked at the exact same way?
ChristianM

Con

As the first round is merely, a prologue, I will allow him to start the second round. I do thank him for beginning this debate (as interrogation is my forte) and wish him good luck in his first debate.
Debate Round No. 1
BEN875

Pro

I would like to thank my opponent for accepting my challenge. I believe that the idea that torture is always wrong is a distorted moral judgment.
Any interrogation method can be identified as torture. Take the "chinese water method" for example. It's not even a splash of water on the face. It's just a drip. But even a drip sustained long and relentlessly enough is torture. Interrogation and torture go hand in hand. An interrogation is inflicting pain or anguish in order to obtain information. Inflicting pain or anguish is torture.
Lets say our government captures a terrorist that has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City. Wouldn't the government have a moral duty to do whatever is necessary to get the information out of the suspect? Using violence to protect innocent people isn't morally wrong. It's self defense.
In a hostage-taking scenario, where a wrongdoer takes a hostage and points a gun to the hostage's head, it is not only permissible but desirable for a police officer to shoot and kill the wrongdoer if he gets a clear shot. It is universally accepted that it is permissible to violate the right to life of the aggressor to save the innocent person. Therefore, how can it be wrong to violate an even less important right (the right to physical integrity) by torturing a terrorist in order to protect innocent life?
ChristianM

Con

MY OPPONENT CLAIMS:
I would like to thank my opponent for accepting my challenge. I believe that the idea that torture is always wrong is a distorted moral judgment.
Any interrogation method can be identified as torture. Take the "Chinese water method" for example. It's not even a splash of water on the face. It's just a drip. But even a drip sustained long and relentlessly enough is torture. Interrogation and torture go hand in hand. An interrogation is inflicting pain or anguish in order to obtain information. Inflicting pain or anguish is torture.
Lets say our government captures a terrorist that has planted a nuclear bomb in New York City. Wouldn't the government have a moral duty to do whatever is necessary to get the information out of the suspect? Using violence to protect innocent people isn't morally wrong. It's self-defense.
In a hostage-taking scenario, where a wrongdoer takes a hostage and points a gun to the hostage's head, it is not only permissible but desirable for a police officer to shoot and kill the wrongdoer if he gets a clear shot. It is universally accepted that it is permissible to violate the right to life of the aggressor to save the innocent person. Therefore, how can it be wrong to violate an even less important right (the right to physical integrity) by torturing a terrorist in order to protect innocent life?

Yes, he has just said that torture is humane, if it is helping save lives, however according to the New York Times Article entitled "Truly Torture" it stated that when the CIA is acting to get information out of terrorists, they usually torture them. The CIA even admits, that some of the methods that they use, are inhumane." Following this quote was a list of tortures that they used. Since I cant copy-paste from the NYTIMES.com website, I will accurately copy them down:

Water boarding: The process of placing a bag on one's head, inclining him and pouring water down his breathing passages to simulate drowning.

"The Rack": The process of laying someone down on a moveable board and tethering his wrists to each end. Then a crank is turned to stretch the body. This is the most used torture by the US behind water boarding and approximately 65% of the time that it is used results in death. (Note: Snap!)

"Chinese Water Torture" (as stated by my opponent): The process of laying someone on a board tied down from head to toe. Then water is dripped in 10-second intervals. This causes a type of psychological distress causing the brain to disrupt and possibly explode. (Yes, I said explode)

The topic of this debate is to give Interrogators the right to torture terrorists. Well, it does not say guilty terrorists. For support, I turn to an Anecdote (http://www.nytimes.com...) about a man by the name of John Rothschild, who was arrested at an airport for possession of a possible toxic powder. He was sent to Guantanamo, and was reportedly water boarded over and over and over again. Until… the results returned from the powder, and it ended up being (get ready…) powdered Lemonade for a bottle of water. You may be laughing, but currently Mr. Rothschild is at a psych ward for his mental distress. Needless to say, he is suing the government.

I urge a CON ballot, because my opponent has failed to show what happens to those who are innocent and lacks support for his argument (which I have taken apart). Let's remember the phrase "Innocent until proven Guilty" when voting. Thank you all and vote CON
Debate Round No. 2
BEN875

Pro

I don't understand why my opponent described the process of "Waterboarding", "The Rack", and "Chinese Water Torture" for me. I'm well aware of the fact that torture is violent. I just believe that the end result of protecting innocent people justifies the means of violence. I pointed out in round 1 that shooting someone with a gun, like torture, is normally an ugly thing that is awful to think about. But when a police officer shoots someone with a gun to protect an innocent person we not only justify it but thank god that it was done. The reason for that is you can't have it both ways. If you want to protect innocent people from wrongdoers you're going to have to get your hands dirty. Also, "The Rack" having a 65% death rate doesn't prove that torture shouldn't used for information. All it proves is that "The Rack" is an inferior interrogation technique because it results in lost information 65% of the time.
Falsely accused and tortured people does not prove that torture should be outlawed. People have been falsely convicted and put in prison before. Does that prove that prison shouldn't exist? Mistakes happen and the only thing it might prove when they do is a need for a better screening process.
ChristianM

Con

"Falsely accused and tortured people does not prove that torture should be outlawed."
No offense to my opponent, but, there is a computer screen in my way from hitting him upside the head and telling him to "Wake UP!!!" He stated that the falsely accused and tortured people does not prove that torture should be outlawed. Well then, let's just all go up to people we don't like and say "I don't like you, IT'S TIME FOR TORTURE!"
"Also, "The Rack" having a 65% death rate doesn't prove that torture shouldn't used for information. All it proves is that "The Rack" is an inferior interrogation technique because it results in lost information 65% of the time."
He then further states that "The Rack" having a 65% death rate only proves that information is lost 65% of the time. While this might hurt my decorum points, this MUST be said. Why is my opponent referring to dead innocent people as "Information that is lost"? I consider this morally wrong and eccentric.
"I'm well aware of the fact that torture is violent."
So why are we allowing it?
"I don't understand why my opponent described the process of "Waterboarding", "The Rack", and "Chinese Water Torture" for me."
To contest your 1st argument that torture was humane.
"I just believe that the end result of protecting innocent people justifies the means of violence."
The same was said about the war in Iraq by George W. Bush, and look where that got us. We killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians and only 45,000 militants. Hmmmm. It seems to me that in that case killing terrorists was more important than the civilians.
"But when a police officer shoots someone with a gun to protect an innocent person we not only justify it but thank god that it was done."
A police officer's code of conduct always states, "Protect yourself first, then subdue the criminal, secure those in danger around you, NEVER engage a foe unless the OFFICERS life is in danger or the foes life is in danger."
Furthermore, what if the criminal has a gun to the head of an innocent civilian. According to a Yale Study done on November 21, 2008, called "Reaction Times" it showed that the gunman will kill the victim before the cop's bullet hits the foe. Therefore, if the cop shoots, 2 people die instead of one.

While I agree with you that protecting others should come first, I must disagree that we should just torture the hell out of people that may be innocent, just to find out "Oh, wait. We got the wrong guy. Sorry, dude. We promise not to do it again." This happened more times than we actually caught REAL terrorists. As a matter of fact, at airports, Homeland Security Guards have the right to detain and interrogate random and suspicious suspects. Even I was pulled aside on my trip D.C.. Giving them the right to torture every person that they think is a terrorist is completely derogatory and morally wrong.
Therefore, I urge a CON ballot on this topic. Thank you all.
Debate Round No. 3
BEN875

Pro

He stated that the falsely accused and tortured people does not prove that torture should be outlawed. Well then, let's just all go up to people we don't like and say "I don't like you, IT'S TIME FOR TORTURE!"
People have been falsely convicted and put in prison so I guess that proves that prison shouldn't exist otherwise people will just go up to people they don't like and say "I don't like you, IT'S TIME FOR PRISON!" Falsely accused and tortured people might prove that we need a better screening process for determining who is guilty and who is innocent but it does not prove that torture should be illegal.

"I'm well aware of the fact that torture is violent."
So why are we allowing it?
Because I believe that the end result of protecting innocent people justifies violent means.

"I don't understand why my opponent described the process of "Waterboarding", "The Rack", and "Chinese Water Torture" for me."
To contest your 1st argument that torture was humane.
I said that using violence to protect innocent people is self defense and that self defense isn't morally wrong.

"I just believe that the end result of protecting innocent people justifies the means of violence."
The same was said about the war in Iraq by George W. Bush, and look where that got us. We killed 100,000 Iraqi civilians and only 45,000 militants. Hmmmm. It seems to me that in that case killing terrorists was more important than the civilians.
According to Wikipedia there have been somewhere between 90,805 to 1,200,000 casualties in the Iraq War. It was somewhere between 40,000,000 and 72,000,000 in World War II. Was World War II unjust?

"But when a police officer shoots someone with a gun to protect an innocent person we not only justify it but thank god that it was done."
A police officer's code of conduct always states, "Protect yourself first, then subdue the criminal, secure those in danger around you, NEVER engage a foe unless the OFFICERS life is in danger or the foes life is in danger."
Furthermore, what if the criminal has a gun to the head of an innocent civilian. According to a Yale Study done on November 21, 2008, called "Reaction Times" it showed that the gunman will kill the victim before the cop's bullet hits the foe. Therefore, if the cop shoots, 2 people die instead of one.
Please read the following article: http://www.usatoday.com...
My opponent has made it clear that he does not believe in the philosophy of the end justifying the means. Does that mean that my opponent would want the police officer in this article to be prosecuted? Shooting someone in the head is violent and according to my opponent violence is wrong even if it produces a good result.

Why is my opponent referring to dead innocent people as "Information that is lost"?
I must disagree that we should just torture the hell out of people that may be innocent, just to find out "Oh, wait. We got the wrong guy. Sorry, dude. We promise not to do it again." This happened more times than we actually caught REAL terrorists. As a matter of fact, at airports, Homeland Security Guards have the right to detain and interrogate random and suspicious suspects. Even I was pulled aside on my trip D.C.. Giving them the right to torture every person that they think is a terrorist is completely derogatory and morally wrong.
Because the purpose of an interrogation is to extract information not kill people. If an inordinate number of innocent people are being tortured then we need to devise a better screening process not outlaw torture. Saying that falsely accused and tortured people proves that torture should be illegal is like saying falsely convicted and imprisoned people proves that prison shouldn't exist.

In closing I think it's important to point out that I don't want to torture anybody. I can't believe the things that they will torture people for in places like the Middle East. It's completely insane. But if you have information that we need to prevent a terrorist attack then one way or another you are going to give us that information. A choice between suffering a terrorist attack or torturing a terrorist is no choice at all.
ChristianM

Con

ChristianM forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
BEN875

Pro

Since my opponent forfeited Round 4 I have decided to use my Round 5 statement to respond to an argument made against torture by a member named "meespr" on the comments page. "meespr" states in his argument that torture doesn't work. He says the idea that it does work is flawed logic and that there is almost no confidence placed in information gained from torture because suspects will just make something up to get you to stop hurting them.

First of all, interrogators wouldn't risk wasting time making a move unless they felt that the suspect was credible. They could ask the suspect to provide details (which they could corroborate) to prove that the suspect is telling the truth.

Second of all, as I pointed out in Round 1, interrogation is torture. An interrogation is causing someone pain or anguish in order to extract information out of them. Something causing pain or anguish is torture. Why don't suspects just make things up when they are subjected to legal interrogation/less severe torture methods? Sleep deprivation is a legal interrogation/less severe torture method. Why don't suspects just make something up to make sleep deprivation stop?

Third of all, torture wouldn't need to be outlawed if it didn't work because interrogators wouldn't be compelled to use it if it didn't work. According to Wikipedia "Torture is prohibited under international law and the domestic laws of most countries; however, Amnesty International estimates that at least 81 world governments currently practice torture." Why would interrogators, people who are trained and certified at extracting information, in 81 different countries, be willing to break the law, and risk being put in prison to use a method that doesn't work?
ChristianM

Con

I must say I that I am sorry for not posting for round 4. I had FCAT so I was very busy. Now I will refute both my opponents round 4 and 5 as well as recap my owm points.

My opponent in round 4 stated that if we should outlaw torture because of the falsely accused we should outlaw prison as well. This is clearly absurd as 2 weeks of torture is much worse than 2 years in prison. Torture is both physically, mentally and emothionally scarring. As my friend AnimeFanTony shows in is comment the definition for torture is as follows.
Torture
1 : to cause intense suffering to : torment
2 : to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain
3 : to twist or wrench out of shape : distort , warp
So as you can see that can leave the victim in horrid physical and mental condition.

You also stated that using vionlence to protect innocent people is self defence and that self defense isn't morrally wrong. This is clearly false. Lets say that the government takes in a suspected terrorist who is ignorant of terrorist affairs. Because the interrogaters would believe him to be a terrorist they would go and use torture in order to extract information. As he doesn't know anything he may at first try to tell them that he is innocent but if that would not work he would of course lie. Because it is not that hard to come up with a story on the spot in desperate times like this the victim would and the goverment gets false information. So not only would it leave a man scarred for the rest of his days but the government would have wasted time and resources looking into false information.

Also as stated by AnimeFanTony WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A CREDIBLE SOURCE. Any one can go in and edit wikipedia and post whatever it is they want. And if it happens to be a protected article that would get spammed alot. Make an account for free and then edit. So his facts from wikipedia are void. Also it is not the Iraq War. I would expect that a grown man as yourself would realize that America never declared war so it infact not a war. George Bush did however declare a war on terror. We are in Iraq as liberaters. And to your question is world war II unjust, YES it was an unjust war. Many innocent civilians died, the Jews were nearly exterminated, and led to many countries having nuclear weapons technology which is a major threat to the world today.

Even if torture does not kill someone it will leave them scarred and messed up and unable to integrate into sociey normally agian. Also if we had a better screening process we could just convict terrorists. But we don't have a better screening process so torture should be outlawed.
And in response to his round for closing what happens if the terrorist gives the government false information that leads the government into a trap. Our soldiers would die because of a lie told because of torture.

Now onto his round 5 arguments and would first like to thank everyone for there help in the comments section.

In your round 4 process you admit that America needs a better screening process yet in round five you say interrogators would'nt waste time 'making a move' unless they believed the source to be credible. Do you have a source for that or are you making stuff up again? Also as i stated before exponding on a lie is not hard and if they collaborated with them the terrorist could easily lead them into an ambush. Remember that terrorist have a history of throwing away their lives frivilously as seen with suicide bombers, hijackers, and the like. The terrorist could lead them to a cave waiting full of terrorists or mines so when he leads them in everyone dies.

Ok onto this 'interrogation is torture' foolishness. He says interrogation is "causing someone pain or anguish in order to extract information out of them. Something causing pain or anguish is torture."
Interrogation according to my definitions are as follows.
Interrogate-verb
1 : to question formally and systematically
2 : to give or send out a signal to (as a transponder) for triggering an appropriate response
That one is from merriam webster dictionary and again there is no mention of the words pain or anguish.

Interrogation
1.the act of interrogating; questioning.
2.an instance of being interrogated: He seemed shaken after his interrogation.
3.a question; inquiry.
4.a written list of questions.
5.an interrogation point; question mark.

Now whats torture you ask. Well the definition of torture is as follows.
Torture
1 : to cause intense suffering to : torment
2 : to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain
3 : to twist or wrench out of shape : distort , warp

Also torture doesn't work. Why do thieves continue to steal even though the majority get caught and it is against the law or why do people murder when its against the law. If you can answer that then you will know why people continue to torture even though its against international law. Furthermore the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutes crimes against humanity. Guess what torture is? Thats right a crime against humanity. So if that many countries where actually doing torture the ICC would be really busy.
Debate Round No. 5
31 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by AnimeFanTony 8 years ago
AnimeFanTony
I think that Con did a better job and made more sense along with more logical points. But thats just the opinion of one man.
Posted by Galiban 8 years ago
Galiban
Hmm,
Interesting Debate. I would Agree with Roy, not enough cites on the background information to warrent developing an opinion. I will abstain from voting at the moment.
Posted by meespr 8 years ago
meespr
RoyLatham says: "The CIA says that they used waterboarding three times, with two of the three time obtaining information that was verified as true"

Yeah, it works from time to time. That's why it was such common practice for so long back in the day. If you need the information in a hurry, okay, get a court order and waterboard him. Otherwise, the less painful measures are just as effective.

Waterboarding is about the most effective way to go about it. I think the CIA said that the best time they've ever seen before one of their own broke was less than one minute. That's how much it feels like drowning. It's not that it hurts that much, but it causes monumental distress. Which to me is a-okay. I have a problem with the rack and bamboo shoots and electric shock, etc. Things that actually hurt.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
The CIA says that they used waterboarding three times, with two of the three time obtaining information that was verified as true. One was the plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. Investigators found the guy and the plans to do so, and concluded that the plan would have worked. Thus, it is not an abstract argument that it sometimes works with a saving of innocent lives. To prevent abuse, the government should have to show cause to a judge to get permission to waterboard. Apparently nothing is more effective than waterboarding, so more extreme methods can be prohibited without a problem.
Posted by meespr 8 years ago
meespr
To respond, just because the detainee is credible (in a position to know) doesn't mean that the information that you get from him will be credible (accurate). Corroborating details is how they prove the credibility of the information. That's how we know that torture is unreliable. Under duress, the detainee will say something (maybe or maybe not accurate) and not be able to corroborate it. Or, in the case of some of the more quick-thinking liars, they can provide false info that seems legit, and when action is taken on it, it proves itself false.

"Second of all, as I pointed out in Round 1, interrogation is torture. An interrogation is causing someone pain or anguish in order to extract information out of them."

There's a distinct difference between discomfort and pain.

"Why don't suspects just make things up when they are subjected to legal interrogation/less severe torture methods? Sleep deprivation is a legal interrogation/less severe torture method. Why don't suspects just make something up to make sleep deprivation stop?"

They do.

"Third of all, torture wouldn't need to be outlawed if it didn't work because interrogators wouldn't be compelled to use it if it didn't work. According to Wikipedia 'Torture is prohibited under international law and the domestic laws of most countries; however, Amnesty International estimates that at least 81 world governments currently practice torture.' Why would interrogators, people who are trained and certified at extracting information, in 81 different countries, be willing to break the law, and risk being put in prison to use a method that doesn't work?"

Two reasons: 1) We define torture quite a bit differently than those 81 countries. 2) the mentality among those countries as well as some of our less scrupulous interrogators is that the credible threat of torture is sufficient to break the will. Then they have to prove it when some dude calls the bluff.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
No substantial evidence or expert opinion cited by either side. Con had the wrong definition of waterboarding, falsely claimed it did permanent harm, and claimed without proof it was used at GITMO. Pro failed to cite CIA opinion of effectiveness and didn't reference expert opinion like Dershowitz regarding use of torture subject to judicial authorization. A good debate topic, but neither side seemed to know much about the subject. I'll give the nod to Pro.
Posted by AnimeFanTony 8 years ago
AnimeFanTony
Pf partners so I know how he works.
Posted by AnimeFanTony 8 years ago
AnimeFanTony
Ben here are some definitions for you.
Interrogation
1.the act of interrogating; questioning.
2.an instance of being interrogated: He seemed shaken after his interrogation.
3.a question; inquiry.
4.a written list of questions.
5.an interrogation point; question mark.

The above is straight off of dictionary.reference.com. No were does it mention causing pain or anguish so I don't know what dictionary your using.
Interrogate
1 : to question formally and systematically
2 : to give or send out a signal to (as a transponder) for triggering an appropriate response
That one is from merriam webster dictionary and again there is no mention of the words pain or anguish.
Torture
1 : to cause intense suffering to : torment
2 : to punish or coerce by inflicting excruciating pain
3 : to twist or wrench out of shape : distort , warp
No there I see the words pain and torment. So your whole thing about interrogation causes pain and anguish is out the door. Also unless you have been interrogated you personally can't refute the dictionary and even then you still have very little credibility.
Also in response to your Round 5 post why do thieves continue to steal even though the majority get caught and it is against the law or why do people murder when its against the law. If you can answer that then you will know why people continue to torture.
Furthermore you have to be a kidding us all about using wikipedia as a source. It's not reliable as anyone can edit it without verifying it so for all we know you could have edited wikipedia to that for use of your argument. It is not a valid source.
Also the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutes crimes against humanity. Guess what torture is? Thats right a crime against humanity. So if that many countries where actually doing torture the ICC would be really busy.
Usafkid1121 will post tommorow and may in fact use many of the points I used in this comment. I know this as we have debate class together and were
Posted by meespr 8 years ago
meespr
Posted by David090: "Unless you're certified in the area of interrogations you really have no merit to make this comment."

You know what's funny? I am. I expected that people would have the common decency not to talk to people like some turgid, self-important professor to a terrified freshmen. If you actually read the whole argument, you might have caught an undertone of "I know what the hell I'm talking about". That would be because I do.

Thanks for the support, AnimeFanTony.

Posted by zoundmind: "i can get u to admit anything i want u 2 ,regardless if its the truth." That's the point. Interrogation isn't always about who's guilty of what, it's about getting reliable information. And as you said, you can get someone to say anything under torture. Unreliable method.

"it would be sad to see somone hostage,but if you were tortureing somone to find out about a hostage then you would have your own hostage". There is a difference between a hostage and a POW, detainee, etc. You have to recognize that. POWs are captured enemies. Hostages are rarely captured and questioned for the information they possess, mostly it's about money or a cause. There are no rules regarding the treatment of hostages, as it is illegal to take hostages anyway. There are numerous, strict rules regarding the treatment of POWs and detained enemy combatants and such.

"We become what we hate!" If you'd chill out a minute and read what I wrote with a cool, rational mind, you'd see the part where torture is not about hate, it's about information. The debate is not on whether torture is sick (I imagine it requires a level of sadism), it's about whether the ends (unreliable information) is worth the means (pick your poison). The answer is still no.
Posted by zoundmind 8 years ago
zoundmind
of course torchure workes ,i can get u to admit anything i want u 2 ,regardless if its the truth. torchure is sick. david it would be sad to see somone hostage,but if you were tortureing somone to find out about a hostage then you would have your own hostage .we become what we hate!
the debate is again opinion using the word should......answer hell no torchure is sick!
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