The Instigator
tejretics
Pro (for)
Tied
7 Points
The Contender
Hayd
Con (against)
Tied
7 Points

The US should allow the limited use of torture

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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 4/28/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,093 times Debate No: 90323
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (51)
Votes (2)

 

tejretics

Pro

First round is for acceptance. No new arguments in the final round.

BOP is shared (i.e. offense is expected from both sides).

"Torture" refers to "the action or practice of inflicting pain on someone in order to force them to do or say something."
Debate Round No. 1
tejretics

Pro

1. What is my advocacy?

The resolution states "The US should allow the limited use of torture." The Oxford Dictionary defines "limited" as meaning "restricted in size, amount or extent." This means I can defend any extent of limitation to affirm insofar as I can prove that torture should be allowed in some circumstance. So the resolution does not require me to show that torture is justifiable in all circumstances, or even most circumstances where it is currently applied. My sole burden is to show that there is at least one circumstance in which torture is justified. Con's burden is to show that torture should never be used by the United States.

I'm not in favor of torture in almost any circumstance. I don't like the usage of torture, and would like legislation that severely restricts the use of torture to be passed. But I believe that, in the rare scenario where torture is the lesser of two evils, it can be used. Thus, necessity is the only defense under which torture is justifiable. The US already recognizes that necessity is a defense for many actions being taken. Torture is one of those actions. I firmly believe that "conduct which an actor believes to be necessary to avoid a harm or evil to himself or to another is justifiable, provided that . . . the evil sought to be avoided by such conduct is greater than that sought to be prevented by the law defining the offense charged." [1] That is a utilitarian standard of measurement. The topic uses the word "should," which implies an analysis of net benefits. So the lesser of two evils must be preferred. Thus, the affirmative model follows: legislation should prevent torture with an exception granted for the case of necessity (e.g. ticking nuclear time bomb scenarios).

2. Torture is necessary in some circumstances

There are some cases in which the use of torture is necessary to prevent greater evils. As I've already clarified, I usually oppose torture. But there are some cases where the consequence of not torturing someone is worse than the consequence of torturing that person. The truth is that torture does work. In most scenarios, even though it works, it shouldn't be exercised. But in some, sadly, there is no other route to approach the issue that is as effective.

Humans have an intrinsic desire to avoid pain. Pain is inherently undesirable, just as pleasure is desirable in itself. Philosophers agree that pleasure is intrinsically valuable, while pain is "bad" in itself. Because of this, people will do anything to avoid pain - this includes providing accurate information when tortured. Torture is, thus, effective. History has multiple examples to prove that this is true. One such case is the Israeli interrogation in an attempt to save the nineteen-year-old Sergeant Nachson Wachsman. In 1994, he was abducted by Hamas. They threatened to kill him. Israeli forces managed to organize a raid and arrest the Hamas members responsible. [2] Similarly, John McCain "mentions in his autobiography that he gave up more information than he intended to his . . . torturers." [2] Note that I wouldn't support torture in such an instance, since the pain felt by Hamas members easily outweighs the life of a single person. But if it does work in such an instance, it obviously does work in instances where there is a greater evil present than torture.

What scenarios do I support torture in? I support torture in scenarios where torture is the only way to solve a major problem: specifically, a kind of problem called a "ticking nuclear time bomb" scenario. For a scenario to qualify as such, there are two conditions. First, the resultant harm must outweigh harm caused by torture. Second, there must be a sense of urgency to this harm. Note that it isn't meant to be interpreted literally - that's just based on an analogy where there's a nuclear bomb that will explode in 24 hours and there's a terrorist who probably has knowledge of the whereabouts of the bomb. If the bomb is found, it can be deactivated. In such a case, I'd argue that torture of the terrorist is justified because of its effectiveness.

Let me clarify my position once more, for clarity. I dislike torture and want legislation limiting the use of it significantly - except in the event that such a scenario arises. This puts the burden on the torturer. If there isn't sufficient justification that such a scenario arose, the person could face life imprisonment. So this is going to mean no abuse of torture or use of torture for most scenarios. The law is just in case such a scenario occurs. Note that it isn't a purely speculative scenario. Terrorists responsible for placing bombs in cars have been captured. And there have been actual examples of such a scenario occurring. "Al Qaeda terrorist Jamal Beghal was arrested at the Dubai airport in October 2001. After some weeks in captivity, during which his lawyer claimed Beghal was beaten, he gave up a wealth of information that was said to have thwarted a planned bombing of the United States Embassy in Paris." [2]

Torture is a form of extreme duress. And other application of extreme duress has also given critical information. In a case in Sri Lanka, a security unit apprehended three terrorists following intelligence suggesting that a ticking bomb had been placed somewhere in Colombo. The terrorists refused to give information. One of them was shot dead, and the other two -- under that stress -- gave the required information. [3] While this isn't an instance of torture, it's an example that stress, including torture, can provide information.

I'm sure that people will claim there are "alternatives" to torture that are more effective in such instances. The primary alternative used is establishing a rapport with the terrorist and providing incentives to help efforts. I agree with using this method when there is a long-term threat. But establishing a rapport takes time. Experts say it takes weeks, or maybe even months, to develop - which isn't enough time to solve a ticking time bomb scenario. [4] [5] Thus, in a ticking time bomb scenario, torture is the only option.

Conclusion: Through my case, I've proven that: (1) torture is effective and could be used to save hundreds of lives in a ticking bomb scenario, and (2) ticking bomb scenarios have some level of probability of happening, while Con's position requires that torture never be used. My impact has a huge magnitude and is more powerful on probability than Con. If Con contests magnitude, he has to prove that torture doesn't work in ticking bomb scenarios in any situation. If Con contests probability, he has to show that such a ticking bomb scenario is impossible, because his position requires him to defend that torture should never be used. Since I've defended both probability and magnitude, vote Pro.

[1] http://law.jrank.org...
[2] http://web.maths.unsw.edu.au...
[3] http://www.theatlantic.com...
[4] Mathew Alexander and John Bruning, "How To Break A Terrorist"
[5] http://www.terrorismanalysts.com...
Hayd

Con

Torture is done in order to either (1) to obtain a confession; (2) to obtain information; (3) to punish; (4) to coerce the sufferer or others to act in certain ways [1]. If these four results end up preventing more suffering than the act of torturing the initial victim caused, torture becomes morally permissible. This becomes my opponent’s framework: achieving these four goals would result in defusing a bomb that would kill a multitude of people. Pro proposes we ought to torture a person in order to negate the threat because it prevents more suffering in the long run. I will argue that we should not torture someone to negate the threat because the suffering caused by torture does not outweigh the suffering it prevents. Who wins this debate will come down to which option the judge decides to choose.

My offensive impact comes from (a) the immorality of torture itself; (b) violation of individual autonomy leads to authoritarian governments; and (c) torture gives extremist groups a tool to recruit more members.

Torture is inherently immoral in that it causes suffering to a sentient being and violates autonomy. Me and my opponent both agree that suffering is inherently immoral; thus this is a concept we do not have to explore farther. I won’t provide any quotes or anything, anyone reading can look those up if they are curious.

Individual autonomy is a necessary value to liberal societies. Having the government be allowed to intentionally violate the autonomy of its citizens quickly cascades into the authoritarian dystopia featured in Orwell’s 1984, USSR, Nazi Germany, etc. A government that allows the systematic violation of its citizens’ autonomy leads down a slippery slope to tyranny and authoritarianism, which, if we read history, results in tens of millions of lives. This would result in more net suffering than a hypothetical bomb would cause.

Terrorist organizations have been using incidences of torture as a major propaganda tool to recruit more members. Human Rights First has compiled over 30 examples of ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and numerous others using this technique to make them a more effective fighting force. Restricting their most useful propaganda tool hinders the organization's’ strength. Doing so is important as these groups cause massive suffering. ISIS alone caused the death of 21,000 people in 2015 alone [2]. Thus, we ought to not allow torture in order to weaken extremist groups, and in effect, saving thousands of lives.

My opponent’s framework lies in the fact that limited torture is sometimes morally permissible (ticking time bomb scenarios), thus these instances ought to be allowed. This reasoning is false in a variety of ways.

My opponent's case assumes that torture is effective in achieving its goals. Pro’s only examples of torture ever working is of a sergeant being abducted by Hamas. Yet, if you read the source that Pro cites, it only mentions that, “Israeli intelligence captured and interrogated the driver of the car in which Wachsman had been abducted and learned the location where he was held.” Note the word “interrogated.” The driver was never tortured, only interrogated. Interrogation is merely asking the person questions [12]. By the definition provided in R1; interrogation does not equal torture. Pro’s source claims that it is “implied” that the Israeli intelligence used “severe torture” because the Landau model (Israeli interrogation policy) allows limited use of torture. Yet a quick Google search finds that the Landau model, “strictly forbids all forms of torture or maltreatment.” [13]. The report provides no evidence that the model was ever broken besides a nonexistent interview quoting Prime Minister of Israel. Which seems even more unlikely given the Prime Minister would be directly breaking the law, as well as the fact that the Prime Minister was assassinated a year before the Landau model even came out [13]. The second example Pro cites is John Mccain talking about how he gave up information to his captors. This does not necessarily mean that he was tortured, as it doesn’t say he was tortured; it merely says he gave up information; in fact, John Mccain was never even tortured while in North Vietnam [14]. Pro later cites the incident of Sri Lanka wherein three terrorists had planted a bomb in Colombo. The story comes from a random anonymous Sri Lankan army officer. The army officer lied to the reporter as the bomb was found by a, “passer-by, who noticed a suspicious device wrapped in a plastic bag and alerted police.” [15] It's also important to note that without torture, the terrorists are less likely to even join the extremist organization in the first place. Thus causing preventative treatment to these kinds of situations.

So in the end, Pro fails to show how torture is effective in achieving its goals. This is problematic, for torture has to be effective in order to resolve the ticking time bomb scenario Pro’s entire case lies on. Pro fails to warrant the claim torture is effective, thus his case is negated.

Furthermore, torture takes time to plan out the different techniques, as well as actually break the will of the victim. For example, Philip Zelikow, senior lawyer for the Bush administration writes that it took three months for the CIA to actually plan out the torture techniques to use on Abu Zubaydah [3], and that the actual torture would take 30 days [4]. Other tortures took 7 weeks [6]. The problem is that it takes long stretches of time to break the victim’s will, which would make torture entirely ineffective at stopping a ticking time bomb scenario.

Neuroscience has also found that torturing someone makes them less likely to tell the truth through the chemical and physical changes that occur in the brain due to the presence of extreme pain and stress. Professor Shane O'Mara writes,

“Given our current cognitive neurobiological knowledge, it is unlikely that coercive interrogations involving extreme stress will facilitate release of truthful information from long term memory...on the contrary, these techniques cause severe, repeated and prolonged stress, which compromises brain tissue supporting both memory and decision making." [7]

In other words, torturing someone will make the victim less likely to tell the torturers the desired information than when the victim is not being tortured [5]. As a result, the use of torture is not helpful in resolving Pro’s proposed scenarios.

The question then becomes, is something better than nothing? The answer is nothing is better than something because of the false information the victim will give. As the top US interrogator says from years of experience in torture, “When they are in pain, people will say anything to get the pain to stop. Most of the time, they will lie, make up anything to make you stop hurting them, that means the information you're getting is useless." [8]

Sociology backs this up too: one study done by Saul Kassin and Katherine Kiechal found that in 69% of cases the torture victim gives false information [9]. The results were later verified completely by Jennifer Perillo and Saul Kassin [10]. In the end, torture is more likely to make the ticking time bomb scenario worse than actually resolving it. In other words, we ought to not use torture in a ticking time bomb scenario. Thus, torture should not be allowed in that instance.

Referring back to the beginning of the debate; the suffering torture causes outweighs the suffering it prevents namely because torture does not prevent any suffering. In fact, torture not only doesn’t attain the goals, but it also makes the goals more difficult to attain. Thus, there is no justification to weigh against the inherent harms of torture. Thus, torture ought not be allowed.

[1] http://tinyurl.com...
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[3] http://tinyurl.com... (page 23)
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Debate Round No. 2
tejretics

Pro

Note: I only advocate torture in order to gain information which could save multiple lives. So I don't support torture in circumstances such as "to obtain a confession," or "to punish." Don't hold me to any of that.

== Pain ==

Con argues that torture causes pain which is a harm in itself, to which I agree. But if torture works in saving lots of lives, my offense outweighs Con's argument that torture causes harm from pain. I'm sure Con agrees since this is basic application of a utilitarian standard.

== Individual autonomy ==

Con argues that torture somehow violates "individual autonomy," and that violation of such individual autonomy would "cascade into violent dystopia." There are a few reasons why this argument fails.

First, the whole argument is a slippery slope that hasn't been proven by evidence at all. Many liberal societies have used torture or the death penalty, and haven't cascaded into "violent dystopia" or totalitarianism. There's no justification for this being true at all.

Second, violations of individual autonomy are justified to prevent net harms - this is a fundamental liberal value, captured by John Stuart Mill's "harm principle," which holds that "power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, to prevent harm to others." [5] If torture is justified by necessity, then it would reduce net suffering. If Con doesn't agree with the harm principle or a utilitarian standard, then Con's kritik becomes irrelevant because the resolution uses the word "should." "Should" is used to indicate obligation, duty or correctness, all of which are based on a standard of what is desirable. Furthermore, Con concedes that suffering is inherently bad, so reducing suffering should form a purpose of government.

== Propaganda ==

(1) The only way by which such organizations can use torture as a propaganda tool is if such information is necessarily made public. But in ticking time bomb scenarios, such information probably isn't going to be made public. The government must ensure confidentiality of torture.

(2) Con offers no evidence that torture is used as a propaganda tool, especially since the United States currently doesn't even perform torture (or at least, doesn't declare acts of torture). This is a purely speculative impact, and one that fails anyhow since confidentiality must be ensured with regards to subjects such as torture.

(3) I only would allow torture in the rarest of circumstances. Such circumstances don't happen much at all. For a scenario to qualify to be a "ticking time bomb scenario," it has to meet a few conditions. There must be a significant threat to the lives of civilians, there must be a time constraint of a few months or less, and the government must have imprisoned a guilty person with probably knowledge that would save the lives of those civilians. Such scenarios have only happened a few times in human history, so it won't be a significant tool for propaganda.

== Effectiveness ==

First, the Hamas example was absolutely not my only example of torture working. Con drops my example of the torture of the terrorist Jamal Beghal. Con also drops my example of John McCain, who gave up more information than he intended to, in order to prevent his pain.

Second, Con misrepresents what my source says. My source doesn't say that it is implied torture was used in the interrogation of the Hamas member because the Landau model allows it. In fact, the source says the Landau model was not followed. In fact, my source explicitly says, "If the security services had acted according to the Landau guidelines in interrogating Hamas members, they wouldn't have reached the place where the kidnappers of Nachshon Wachsman were found." (R2, source 2) The note that the Landau model allows limited torture is irrelevant to what was done. It's clear that they violated the Landau guidelines, i.e. they used enhanced interrogation techniques.

Con is wrong that the Prime Minister was assassinated before the Landau Commission was formed. The Landau Commission was formed in 1987, while this incident took place in 1994. Also, the Landau guidelines are "guidelines," not laws. So violation of them isn't punishable within Israel. Prefer my source, a reliable report, to Con's own subjective opinion on historical fact.

Next, let's look to Con's own arguments against the effectiveness of torture. All of Con's arguments involve a misinterpretation of what Con's burdens are, since all those arguments prove is that "torture usually doesn't work." But to prevent an impact of such magnitude, one has to take chances. Con's burden is to persuade the reader that torture should never be used, under any circumstances, and that torture never works. Because if torture works in even some instances, it's worth trying torture along with methods like rapport building if there's even some chance that it would save lives. When it comes to saving thousands of lives, something has to be done.

My example of Jamal Beghal proves that torture has actually worked in a ticking time bomb scenario before. So it might work again. And we can risk the probability that it might not work, because if it has worked in the past, it just might work in the future. The torture of Abu Zubayda allowed critical information that led to the arrest of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed. [6] Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, on interrogation (with usage of enhanced interrogation), revealed a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, thus saving lives. [7] Indeed, "Once Abu Zubaydah broke under water boarding, he told our officers something remarkable. 'You must do this for all the brothers,' he said. AZ explained to them that Allah knew that they were only human and once they had been tested to their limits there was no shame in their cooperating with us . . . Once he became compliant, the information AZ willingly provided us was by any reasonable measure some of the most important intelligence collected since 9/ 11. Those who say otherwise are simply ill informed or misleading the public." [8]

Con sources Kassin and Kiechel, who - per him - say that torture victims have false confessions 69% of the time. So, I read the study and Googled some relevant things, and found that Con's misrepresents the study so much it's hilarious. The study doesn't say "torture victims" confess falsely 69% of the time. Indeed, all they said was that -- when falsely accused of a computer crash -- students in colleges were willing to sign a false confession 69% of the time. I have little doubt now that Con didn't even read his source. While this might reflect on to torture victims, Con doesn't explain the link clearly, because in this case, we're talking about information - not confession. And I have multiple examples that prove that torture works.

Con's argument that torture takes time is true in most circumstances, but torture takes less time than rapport-building and similar alternatives. [4] That's an objective fact.

So, the question we have to answer in this debate is simple: if there's a huge risks of lives being lost, and there's some chance that torture would prevent this, should the use of torture be allowed? In Pro's world, since there's a good chance it won't be effective and since it inflicts pain, it shouldn't be allowed. But when there's so much magnitude at risk (e.g. blowing up the Brooklyn Bridge), something has to be done, and if torture could potentially work, it ought to be used.

Unless Con proves that torture never works, vote Pro on magnitude, since if Abu Zubayda and Khaled Sheikh Mohammed hadn't been tortured, the Brooklyn Bridge would have blown up. In Con's world, the United States Embassy in Paris and the Brooklyn Bridge would have been destroyed. Therefore, vote Pro.

[5] http://tinyurl.com...
[6] http://tinyurl.com...
[7] http://tinyurl.com...
[8] Jose Rodriguez, Bill Harlow. "Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved Lives," p. 72.
Hayd

Con

Pro attacks the notion that allowing torture causes authoritarian regimes, explaining that the notion is not backed by evidence; thus I’ll provide some. In an essay on authoritarian regimes, B. Simmons finds that countries who continue to torture their citizens, “tend to have relatively authoritarian regimes.” [1] For example, after the military took over the government of Brazil in 1964, they maintained democratic normality until 1968 when the Institutional Act No. 5 was passed that made torture by the state allowed [2]. Note that the Act only allowed isolated circumstances of torture [3]. The law ended up being used routinely by the state to terrorize its citizens [1]. It is also important to note that the government passed it under utilitarian premises; justifying it with maintaining control, thus preventing riot and revolution: saving lives more lives in the end [4]. Another example would be the United States after the 9/11 tragedy. The threat of terrorists was used as justification of mass torture and terrorization of detainees throughout the world [16], most of which weren't relevant to the event [17]. We can also point to how Russia was transformed to a totalitarian society by torture. Alec Mellor explains that torture was introduced under public authority in order to establish a totalitarian state (the Soviet Union being the end-result) [18]. We also see that torture was allowed during the Spanish Inquisition based on utilitarian means: finding heretics and removing their sin would result in the eternal happiness of humans, an obvious utilitarian justification. In the end, there is more than enough historical evidence to believe that the introduction of torture leads to authoritarianism.

Pro furthermore brings up that many liberal societies have used torture and haven’t cascaded into authoritarianism. If this notion is true, we should expect to see the countries that allow torture are still liberal ones. The Human Freedom Index comprehensively measures the personal, civil, and economic freedoms of the citizens of each country. The top 10 most liberal societies in 2012 was Hong Kong, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, and Sweden [5]. In each of these countries, torture is illegal in *all* circumstances. Hong Kong [6], Switzerland [7], Finland [8], Denmark [9], New Zealand [10], Canada [11], Australia (in most circumstances) [12], Ireland [13], United Kingdom [14], and Sweden [15]. As we can see, Pro’s notion is false in its face as the most liberal societies actually do not allow torture.

It is important to relate this back to the utilitarian framework. My argument is inherently utilitarian because my impact comes from the deaths that authoritarian regimes bring. For example, Josef Stalin alone took the lives of 49 million people [20]. This is obviously more than Pro’s proposed bomb scenario, thus this argument alone outweighs Pro’s entire case based on utilitarian standards.

Pro then brings up three objections to my argument that allowing torture will result in strengthening terrorist regimes. Firstly, that the usage of torture would not be made public. This is false in and of itself because in order for the government to allow torture, it would have to pass legislation and/or policy changes which have to be made public. Pro even concedes that allowing torture would require a new law, in R2 he writes, “The *law* is just in case such a scenario occurs.” Since the notion that the government laws are made to the public is a given (we take it as true, we assume it as so), arguing that the government should make secret laws would have to be an independent argument, and by definition, a kritik. Yet, since the next round is the final round Pro can’t make such an argument thus the point is useless.

Pro’s second point claims that there is no evidence terrorists use torture as a propaganda tool, especially since the US does not use torture. Yet both of these assertions are also blatantly false. Terrorists do use terrorism as a propaganda tool, and I argued such in R2 (although I forgot to paste my source, my bad, see [21]). There are multiple posters, videos, social media content, etc. that prove this as such. It's a truism. And the impact of abolishing torture will be large; it has been regarded as, “the greatest single action the United States can take to fight terrorism…” [23] Again, given how many lives terrorists take each year (21,000 for ISIS alone), weakening terrorist regimes will end up saving thousands of lives (which, again, would be more than the lives a hypothetical bomb would take.) And in response to Pro’s second point, the United States does openly use torture, writing a 500 page report on how the CIA uses it [22].

The third point Pro brings up is that a ticking time bomb scenario has only happened a few times in history, thus, the scarcity of torture wouldn’t leave terrorists much to work with. This is false because the amount of times that there is a number of innocent people that is greater than the people would have to be tortured is many times. Pro must advocate for this according to his R2 framework, thus the opportunities terrorists can seize on for propaganda is high. This is also false because the fact that torture would be allowed in the US is reason enough in itself for propaganda. Secondly, Pro’s advocacy allows for the use of torture. Thus, it opens the possibility for uses of torture, of which the terrorists can take advantage of. My advocacy eliminates any possibility for terrorists to use propaganda. Regardless, all these premises miss the fundamental point. The major justification for people becoming terrorists is of righting injustices [25][26]. Eliminating the things that terrorists perceive as injustices (e.g. torture), would result in a significantly reduced incentive to become a terrorist, thus saving thousands of lives in the process.

I also want to note that Pro changes his framework of the bomb scenario from 24 hours to a few months. This is a moving the goalposts fallacy [24]. Disregard this new shift. Also note that if Pro argues for why the scenario should be extended to months would not only be a moving the goalposts fallacy, but also a new argument in the final round.

Moving on to the effectiveness of torture: Pro brings up two isolated incidences in which torture worked. I concede these. But torture is ineffective the majority of the time. We can verify this by looking at the Senate Torture Report and the results of CIA torture. Of all the detainees the CIA had, “the overwhelming majority was innocent or had no meaningful intelligence.” Even in the cases where the CIA reported that the torture was successful the Senate committee found the examples wrong [28]. If the CIA 2002-2008 torture index is representative, then we can definitely conclude that torture is ineffective in the *majority* of cases. This is furthered by the evidence I brought up.

Pro attacks my Kassin and Kiechel study that showed that 69% of people will give false confessions by explaining that the people in the study weren’t torture victims. I know they weren’t, I read the study but I should have explained it more clearly, my bad. The study is relevant because the bluff tactic is used in the majority of tortures [28]. Since Pro never proposed a CP eliminating this in torture (and since the next round is the last round he won’t be able to), we are forced to accept that the bluff tactic will be used in the majority of tortures. The study shows that this tactic produces false confessions 69% of the time, so we are forced to accept that most tortures will produce false information 69% of the time.

For example, when the CIA tortured Abu Zubayda he made up false stories of planned attacks on shopping malls, nuclear plants, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, sending hundreds of CIA and FBI investigators scurrying in pursuit of the phantoms [29]. FBI agent notes that 30-50% of counter terrorism is done on false leads [30]. Using torture in this scenario would more than likely result in misallocation of resources, wild goose-chases, etc. that would be detrimental to the investigation.

We are faced with a bomb situation. How do we deal with it? Pro proposes torture, which will make the situation worse the majority of the time (69%). Pro still advocates for using it because we have to take chances. But we don’t, we have many other much better tools such as rapport-building which is 4 times more effective than torture [31]. And we can’t combine methods such as rapport-building and torture because we can’t politely negotiate and torture them at the same time. Thus, since torture is a net detriment to the scenario we ought to not allow torture.

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Debate Round No. 3
tejretics

Pro

== My Case ==

Note: Hayd says I changed the time-limit for a ticking time bomb scenario, but he's wrong that the time limit was 24 hours. In the hypothetical, the time limit was 24 hours, but it could be up to a few weeks in a real scenario. The hypothetical scenario doesn't limit the real world scenario in any way.

Hayd concedes that there have been examples where torture worked in preventing a ticking time bomb scenario. This concession dooms his case. Hayd's sole convincing response to this is that 69% of the time, people are lead on "wild goose chases" as a result which deviates concentration from the problem.

But I'm only advocating torture in cases of "necessity." I concede that it isn't always necessary in ticking time bomb scenarios, but it often is. Infliction of torture via waterboarding or harsher methods don't take time, because all it needs is the right tools. Waterboarding takes a few minutes to gain information, and the set-up takes a couple of hours. Rapport building takes weeks, even months. That's why Mathew Alexander, an anti-torture advocate, concedes that torture is required in some cases with extreme time restraints (Rd. 1, source 4). So there's no other means to apply "concentration," so even if it doesn't work 69% of the time, there's no harm from trying.

Hayd says torture doesn't work 69% of the time. But in the cases where the students were made to sign a false confession, there was no duress placed on them. Terrorists feel pain and need to avoid that infliction. When Abu Zubayda realized that torture would continue unless he gave the right information, he spilled out critical information. The fear of future torture also ensures that terrorists break under it (Rd. 2, source 8).

Rapport building wouldn't have worked in the Brooklyn Bridge scenario. It didn't work. Abu Zubayda didn't say anything before he was tortured. After he was tortured, he initially created false leads that resulted in some waste of resources. But when he realized that the truth was needed for the pain to stop, he spilled information - the most critical information that intelligence has received since after 9/11. Terrorists are noncompliant until they reach their threshold of pain, upon which they reveal information that rapport building fails to give.

Hayd clearly loses this point, because he drops my examples of Zubayda, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the Hamas member, Jamal Beghal, John McCain and Sri Lanka. I've presented six situations in which extreme duress revealed critical information. But I don't advocate the use of torture in almost any circumstance. I'm just saying we shouldn't pass a law that prohibits torture in all circumstances; at the very least, presidential pardons should be allowed for the limited use of torture. In the rare case where rapport building won't work, when there's a major time constraint and a probable major threat, torture is justified.

== Authoritarianism ==

Hayd offers examples where torture led to undermining autonomy and created totalitarianism. But all those examples are merely correlations. States that practice torture aren't authoritarian because of the torture - they practice torture because they are authoritarian. He's interchanged the causation. In Russia, torture didn't lead to a totalitarian state - torture was used as a tool to make it a totalitarian state. But the use of torture in such circumstances doesn't create a totalitarian state, and none of Hayd's examples or evidence supports this.

And the fact that there's even one liberal society that uses torture is sufficient to defeat the link between torture and authoritarianism. In Australia, torture is allowed in limited circumstances; Hayd's own source 12 says this. And the fact that 9 of the top 10 liberal societies don't use torture doesn't indicate authoritarianism at all. There are many non-authoritarian states where the use of torture is permitted in limited circumstances, including Australia and the United States.

Hayd doesn't establish a clear link between authoritarianism and torture at all. He just gives examples of totalitarian states that used torture. This doesn't mean they became totalitarian states because they used torture to save lives. And in Russia, torture was used specifically as a tool to create an authoritarian state; it's not the limited use of torture in ticking-bomb scenarios that led to a totalitarian state. Hayd's whole premise is absurd at its face.

I'll also note that the idea that any authoritarian state is one where violence exists is absurd. There are and have been authoritarian state without employment of violence against its people. Military juntas have frequently ruled countries without major human rights abuses, or at least impacts worse than ticking time bomb scenarios. A few examples reaching this conclusion is a hasty generalization, and Hayd has to prove that totalitarianism outweighs my impacts in most, or all, cases. Hayd hasn't done this, so the benefits outweigh.

== Propaganda ==

First, the impact from propaganda is speculative. Hayd talks about the impact of ISIS and the number of lives lost, but that impact isn't directly a result of torture. What Hayd needs to outline is the number of lives that would be saved if torture were removed. The uncertainty involved here is huge, and it's Hayd's burden of proof to outline why that impact outweighs the impact of a ticking time bomb scenario. Since Hayd hasn't done that, and since this is the last round, my impact outweighs this one. If torture is illegal, terrorist organizations will find another means of propaganda.

Second, Hayd asserts that the number of ticking time bomb scenarios where torture can be used is large. This is wrong, because it's very rare that a terrorist is apprehended, and that person has knowledge of such a scenario. Furthermore, I'm only talking about ticking bomb scenarios where all other alternatives fail. Rapport building fails often due to time constraints. When lives are at risk and all alternatives fail, let a presidential pardon be given for torture.

Third, Hayd says that the very existence of a law permitting torture will cause propaganda. But there doesn't need to be a law permitting torture. Presidential pardon or similar authorization is sufficient, because I don't support torture in 99% of circumstances. Torture should be used in the 1% of circumstances where nothing else can be done. While the United States currently does openly use torture, remove the status quo: use torture only in the rarest of circumstances with presidential pardons. Confidentiality can exist in such circumstances, so torture can't work as a propaganda tool.

== Conclusion ==

My burden in this debate was to show that, in at least one circumstance, the usage of torture is justified, and the US should allow the use of torture to that extent. I argued that torture shouldn't be permitted in almost every case, but in the cases where there is a severe time constraint that limits alternatives like rapport building, when there is a threat that outweighs the infliction of pain from torture, the use of torture is justified. I proved that torture is effective by multiple historical examples (e.g. Abu Zubayda) and by the fact that humans have an intrinsic desire to avoid pain. Hayd's response to this contention was that, 69% of the time, torture doesn't work and leads intelligence organizations on wild goose-chases. I responded to this by proving that terrorists do break under torture upon realization that it would continue unless correct information was given, and proved that the Brooklyn Bridge and the American Embassy in Paris would have been destroyed if not for torture. Hayd drops these examples, and thus concedes that torture is justified in at least some circumstances.

Hayd's burden in this debate is to show that the use of torture is never justified. In other words, Hayd has to show that, even in scenarios where all other alternatives fail, there should not be any executive action that permits the use of torture. He presents three arguments in favor of this position: (1) he argues that torture is the infliction of pain, and is intrinsically immoral, (2) using torture perpetuates authoritarianism and infringes on individual liberty, causing hundreds of deaths, and (3) torture is used as propaganda by terrorist organizations to aid recruitment and terrorist actions, which outweigh torture. I refuted the first point by proving that the impact from ticking nuclear time-bomb scenarios outweighed the pain felt by those tortured. As for the second point, I proved that there isn't a clear link between authoritarianism and torture since there are democratic states that practice torture. The second point also fails because authoritarianism doesn't necessitate innocent death. The third point fails because using executive pardons allow for confidentiality, and the speculative impact is outweighed by the benefits of torture.

For these reasons, vote Pro.
Hayd

Con

Authoritarianism
Tej attacks my authoritarian argument by arguing that the relationship between torture and the formation of authoritarian governments is correlation and not causation; thus torture does not “create” authoritarian states; nations merely use it as a tool to become authoritarian. Tej claims that none of my sources demonstrate the use of torture leading to an authoritarian state. Firstly, if a nation can use torture as a tool to become authoritarian, then torture leads to authoritarianism: without it the nation would not become authoritarian. Regardless, this is objectively wrong, and I urge the judge to go back and read through my evidence again. I brought up Brazil which allowed the limited use of torture through democracy, and then afterwards cascaded into authoritarianism literally because of torture: the government used it to terrorize its citizens. They justified this terror using the same utilitarian justification tej is using. This demonstrates exactly how allowing the limited use of torture leads to the rise of an authoritarian state because the literally the exact thing happened in Brazil. Based on this we can conclude that if the US, or some other nation allows the limited use of torture based on utilitarian means, the same result can, and will, happen. I brought up more examples than Brazil, which furthers the reasons to take this argument: I bring up the US after the 9/11 tragedy, the Soviet Union, the Spanish Inquisition. All of these examples were of limited torture being legalized in a non authoritarian state, and then the state using this in order to become an oppressive authoritarian regime.

Given this, the judge must look at what reasons Tej has given that this won’t happen. In R3 he argues that many liberal societies have allowed torture but haven’t become authoritarian. I negated this argument by showing that if this is true we should see liberal societies that allow torture, we don’t so it's wrong. Tej responds by saying that Australia and the United States allow torture. Although I admitted to Australia not having a complete ban on torture, tej misinterprets the way in which Australia allows torture. Australia does not allow torture, as the The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission finds, the law that disallows torture does not cover torture in every circumstance; it has gaps. Australia’s Crimes (Torture) Act 1988 No. 148, 1988 criminalizes torture, “in some Australian States and Territories, other States and Territories do not have specific offences of torture although acts of torture may be criminalised under the provisions of other criminal offences (for example, assault).” [1] This is because Australia has a wacky territory, province, state system thingy that makes things complicated. So, in short, “while legislation exists which criminalises torture, there are gaps in Australia’s laws.” [1] Thus, Tej is wrong in saying that Australia *allows* the limited use of torture, because they don’t. They just have gaps that the lawmakers missed when drafting the laws that ban torture. But torture United States is not allowed in any circumstances [2] [3] [14]. Thus, Tej’s rebuttal fails, and the link between authoritarianism and torture is maintained.

Tej then argues that authoritarianism does not necessitate violence. Yet this is a new argument in the final round: tej never argued that authoritarianism does not necessitate violence until now. Regardless, it is a truism that authoritarianism almost always results in mass oppression and genocide. It is common sense. Even if you don’t accept that consider the possibility of the bomb malfunctioning and not going off which is a 15% chance [6]. Thus, the rebuttal fails because there is the same chance in the bomb scenario.

The judges must consider this: allowing limited use of torture only in conditions that would most likely never occur results in the formation of an oppressive authoritarian government. This would more than likely result in more lives lost than would be saved by stopping the bomb. Tej’s only rebuttal to this argument is that the impact is purely speculative, thus we must side with him. Yet this is inherently false because Tej’s impact (the lives saved by the bombs) is also inherently speculative. Thus, the impact must come down to which event is more likely to occur: a near impossible bomb scenario, or the formation of authoritarian governments. The latter is more likely than the former because of my historical arguments that tej has failed to negate. And even by some crazy observation the judge finds the two to be almost equal (or even the bomb more likely) the latter would still take more lives than the former, thus prefer the latter based on impact calculus.

Propaganda
Tej brings up that my impact in this argument is speculative. While I do not have an exact number of how many lives will be saved by reducing the amount of terrorists, tej has not brought up an exact number of how many lives would be taken in a bomb scenario either. In fact, his number is even more speculative than the amount that I bring up. It would realistically make sense that it would be a few thousand at most, but tej’s case doesn’t lie in realistic scenarios at all. So the more impact that tej gets (the more lives lost), the less realistic (and more speculative) his side becomes. So *turn* tej’s logic here to work against him: since the uncertainty on Pro’s side is huge and I have a less speculative amount, my impact outweighs.

I have also compared my impact to Pro’s the entire debate, at most Pro might hold an extremely speculative thousand lives, but I showed that ISIS alone takes 21,000 lives. Taking away their top reason for recruitment would at least decrease the majority of their numbers. From that we can reasonably say (since it is their top method of recruitment) maybe a fifth of members don’t join. That would reasonably cut their strength and thus killing effectiveness by 20% resulting in 4,200 saved lives. And that's a conservative estimate, given it is their top recruitment it ought to be more, most reasonably half, but the point is still made this way. My speculation is more clearer than Pro’s thus prefer my side, and even if you don’t my impact still outweighs Pro’s.

Pro changing his framework to Presidential pardons is a new argument in the final round, thus do not accept it.

Effectiveness
Tej has brought the debate to time constraints, arguing that in cases where time constraints are a problem, torture ought to be used. This is wrong because false confessions are still a problem (i.e. we are more likely to get accurate information from quick rapport-building than we are to get it from torture.) Thus *even if* the judge accepts that only torture can be used in time-constraint scenarios we still shouldn’t use it because it would be net detrimental to the situation.

But this is all irrelevant because there is no reason to believe that rapport-building cannot be used in short-term scenarios, and even if the judge decides to believe that rapport building cannot be used in short-term scenarios; there furthermore is no reason to believe that torture would take any shorter. Tej’s only argument for why rapport-building takes more time than torture is an appeal to authority fallacy. Tej provides no reasoning or data for why this is true, just an author that said so. And since we can’t access any of the reasoning behind the claim, this argument has no warrant and is weightless. On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that rapport-building takes long amounts of time. In many scenarios it takes a day or two [5]. On the other hand, as my examples in R2 showed, torture takes many months to break someone's will. So actually rapport-building should be used instead of torture because it takes less time.

Tej then argues that since torture works less than 31% of the time, we still ought to try it because there is no harm in trying. But there is, as I have argued the entire debate. The harms in trying will be false information and false leads.

Tej argues that in the study on false confessions, the students had no duress. Yet, the study did, the student was yelled at and placed blame on, I urge the judge to go back and read the study. This rebuttal also assumes that this is my only piece of evidence for torture producing false confessions, but I have numerous amounts of reasoning from torture experts, neuroscientists, and psychologists all of which tej dropped. Even if the judge doesn’t accept this study (which they should), it doesn’t matter because my other pieces of evidence prove the same point.

This point essentially comes down to this. Tej brings up a few isolated examples in which torture worked. I brought up that the majority of the time the torture brings no information, and when it does bring information it is false information more than half the time.

So, judge, if you were the detective and there was a bomb going off in 24 hours and you had someone that knew the combination. You can use torture, which has only worked two or three times ever, the rest of the times it didn’t bring any information or it brought false information that wasted time and resources finding it. Even if you were to get the right information, it would take months to get the information, much more than the 24 hours (even the isolated incidents Pro brings up took long amounts of time to get.) Or you can use rapport-building which will take much less time, and will be 4 times more likely to find the accurate information and resolve the situation.

If you choose the first option vote Pro, if you choose the second vote Con.

[1] http://tinyurl.com...
[2] http://tinyurl.com...
[3] http://tinyurl.com...
[4] http://tinyurl.com...
[5] http://tinyurl.com...
[6] http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 4
51 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by BigDaddyWhoWhoo 7 months ago
BigDaddyWhoWhoo
Define torture. Listening to a insurance seminar can be torture. A masochist may LOVE to be physically tortured.
Posted by lightseeker 1 year ago
lightseeker
or it's like saying "watching a little bit of porn should be allowed for educational purposes" which will prob lead to this:

http://www.roadtograce.net...
Posted by lightseeker 1 year ago
lightseeker
human greed makes "limited" impossible. same thing was probably said about "showing skin", which resulted in the HUGE porn industry that exists today.
Posted by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
Thett is wong.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
tejretics
I sincerely appreciate the vote, thett :)
Posted by Hayd 1 year ago
Hayd
Thanks for the vote thett, I appreciate it.

I didn't argue utilitarianism framework because arguing framework derails the debate. I didn't want to debate normative ethics, I wanted to debate torture. And I knew if I attacked util, the debate would become that, and thats lame
Posted by thett3 1 year ago
thett3
1/3

Tej wins this debate. He made a very conventional case, enough of which managed to make it through to the end of the debate due to a number of strategic errors on Hayd's part.

The first mistake Hayd makes is that he outright conceded that we should use a utilitarian framework when we judge the debate. Why should we have to do that? My #1 thought when reading Tej's case was that he didn't justify utilitarianism *at all*. Proving his moral framework should be one of the most difficult parts of the debate for him, but Hayd just lets him have it. If Tej was forced to devote several thousand characters a round trying to prove his moral theory this debate may have gone a lot differently.

Hayd made much better con arguments from a utilitarian perspective than I thought possible. The propaganda argument is actually a pretty good point, and combined with the possibility of false information throwing off counter-intelligence measures by sending them on wild goose chases, torture doesn't seem as cut and dry from a utilitarian perspective. However Tej takes out these arguments pretty well. Hayd blatantly misrepresented his source on the false confession argument and Tej points out that Hayd fails to quantify in anyway how effective the propaganda campaigns detailing torture are, and further explains that instance of torture don't have to be public.

On Hayd's "torture = authoritarianism = genocide" point...Tej put it best: "States that practice torture aren't authoritarian because of the torture - they practice torture because they are authoritarian." Tej is advocating for the use of torture by counter-intelligence in extremely limited circumstances, not torturing political dissidents. I just didn't find myself buying the link that Hayd was trying to sell. And about liberal countries not torturing people...while Tej didn't bring this up so it didn't factor into my vote, I would encourage you both to read up on the concept of "extraordinary rendition"
Posted by thett3 1 year ago
thett3
2/3

So on to Tej's case.

Tej makes it clear that he is advocating for torture only in very limited circumstances and cites specific examples where torture has worked. And here we get to the second major error Hayd made and what really sealed his fate...he let Tej turn this debate into a truism. What the debate really boiled down to is "Is torture good in the circumstances in which Tej says it's good?"

Since Hayd didn't choose to argue against torture from a moral perspective, virtually all of his arguments stem from the *unintentional* and negative side effects of torture. But Tej claims that since he's advocating for torture in extremely limited circumstances, he can just handwave all of these impacts away. Torturing gives our enemies propaganda victories? No problem, in my fantasy world it will just be secret! False information? Well we're only using it in circumstances where it's NECESSARY! And the thing is...given the arguments made, he kind of can just hand wave these things away.

The argument I would've made, and that Hayd should've, is that Tej is arguing from a fantasy world where we can actually limit the use of torture to the circumstances that he outlines. The reality is that we can't--the real world is never as simple as "oh we will just cleanly identify ticking time bomb situations". Maybe Tej would make torture less common, but all of these impacts would still inevitably happen.

And this relates to the third strategic error that Hayd made...what is his alternative? If there really was a plot we had to foil in a matter of hours, how else do we get the information? Even if I buy that torture gives us false info 69% of the time (which I don't) would you rather have a 31% chance or a 0% chance?

Hayd did kind of try to hold him to this on what the definition of "ticking time bomb", but that wasn't nearly enough.

The fourth and final strategic error Hayd made was accepting this debate at all. The resolution is way too biased in Pro's fa
Posted by thett3 1 year ago
thett3
3/3

Wrap up:

I think that Tej successfully articulated that torture can be effective in certain circumstances and he made his requirements for torture to be just stringent enough to circumvent most of Hayd's arguments. Hayd simply did not go after him in the places he needed to, and conceded to Tej's moral framework right from the get-go. Tej just won all around. Good debate though
Posted by Hayd 1 year ago
Hayd
ikr. I think she blocked me so I can't even PM, comment on profile, or communicate the misunderstanding at all
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by TUF 1 year ago
TUF
tejreticsHayd
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Cn7ZBsyb9CcBE2GrcPTKwtO9aPS0RHwKdpom4y0Cmkk/edit?usp=sharing
Vote Placed by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
tejreticsHayd
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: http://www.debate.org/forums/politics/topic/86828/