The Instigator
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
34 Points
The Contender
jopo
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points

The use of torture is justified in ticking time bomb situations.

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Post Voting Period
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after 13 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/8/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,721 times Debate No: 41935
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (54)
Votes (13)

 

RoyLatham

Pro

For the purposes of this debate "torture" is defined as those methods of interrogation revealed as being used by the CIA on GITMO detainees. These methods include physical and psychological stress, the most severe being water boarding. The methods are non-lethal.

An ABC News article describes the methods, at least in general: [1. http://abcnews.go.com....] The article says that the methods were used to extract confessions, but that is doubtful. The present debate is restricted to interrogation to extract critical information, not confessions.

The ticking time bomb scenario is one in which information is needed within a limited time to save human life. A Wikipedia article give some background on the scenario and the arguments that have been used in arguing it: [2. http://en.wikipedia.org...] In the present debate, past arguments may be used as well as new arguments. The article is for background, and all arguments must be presented in the debate.

I will argue somewhat along the lines of what jurist Alan Dershowitz has argued. In particular, a provision is included that a warrant must be obtained from an independent judiciary permitting the use of torture on an individual.

Whether the harsh interrogation methods are legally "torture" or not is outside of the scope of this debate. Calling them "torture" ends the semantic argument on that subject for this debate.

The first round is for acceptance and background information only. The Pro case will be presented in R2. Standard debate.org rules and conventions apply. All arguments must be made in the debate, and not by referencing additional material. Each round is limited to 8000 characters, and all arguments and links to sources must be presented within the character limits of the debate. Any word not specifically defined in this challenge is taken in the ordinary dictionary sense that best fits the context. Pro may not make new arguments in R4, and may introduce new evidence only in rebuttal. Con may not make new arguments or introduce new evidence in R4.

I welcome my opponent to debate.org. This is her first debate on the site, but she is a well-qualified experienced debater. I'm looking forward to a good debate.

<trumpets blare> This debate is the first round of ClassicRoberts Gauntlet Tournament, [3. http://www.debate.org...] The quest for the gonfalon now begins! </trumpets>
jopo

Con

I accept this challenge and look forward to the debate to come against an opponent as qualified as RoyLatham.

As I stand, posed to guard my position with honor, I wish him luck as he officially enters the *cue dramatic music* Gauntlet Tournament.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Pro

1. Water boarding is effective

Water boarding is used only when lives are at stake. It's not for punishment or for extracting confessions. Suppose terrorists have hidden a nuclear bomb somewhere in New York City. One of the terrorists is detained and there is good reason to believe he knows where the bomb is located. The terrorist may have been captured with his notebook or computer revealing his close involvement with the plot or there may be wiretap or surveillance evidence The objective is to obtain the information from him in time to stop the detonation. I claim that it would be immoral not to use water boarding under those circumstances, because the potential is for saving many innocent lives, and the worst case for the detainee is that he is terrorized temporarily, but not permanently harmed.
The phrase "ticking time bomb" is somewhat misleading. The detainee must have information that is likely to save lives if revealed, but the information may retain it's critical nature for months.

The case of a nuclear weapon is extreme, but it is a valid hypothetical to demonstrate the principle. There were only three cases at Gitmo when the CIA used water boarding In one case, a plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge was uncovered and prevented. Water boarding is extremely effective in the approximately one case in 500 when a less harsh methods do not work. Former CIA operative John Kiriakou told CNN:

... the CIA decided to water board the al Qaeda operative only after he was "wholly uncooperative" for weeks and refused to answer questions.

All that changed -- and Zubayda reportedly had a divine revelation -- after 30 to 35 seconds of water boarding, Kiriakou said he learned from the CIA agents who performed the technique.


The terror suspect, who is being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reportedly gave up information that indirectly led to the the 2003 raid in Pakistan yielding the arrest of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, an alleged planner of the September 11, 2001, attacks, Kiriakou said.

The CIA was unaware of Mohammed's stature before the Abu Zubayda interrogation, the former agent said

[4. http://tinyurl.com...]

2. Water boarding is non-lethal


Is it morally justified to kill one innocent person to save the lives of many others? That's debatable. Our question is whether it is justified to subject a terrorist to temporary discomfort to save the lives of many citizens. It's not only justified, it is morally required.
Why stop at water boarding in torturing terrorists? Because harsher techniques are not required, and water boarding is extremely unlikely to cause permanent physical or mental injury. Subjects are first given a physical exam to ensure they have no hidden physical defect. Wikipedia quotes a CIA manual:

"In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual's feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and completely covers the mouth and nose, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of the cloth... During those 20 to 40 seconds, water is continuously applied from a height of twelve to twenty-four inches. After this period, the cloth is lifted, and the individual is allowed to breathe unimpeded for three or four full breaths... The procedure may then be repeated." [5. http://en.wikipedia.org...]

Members of the U.S special forces, Air Force, and CIA have been systematically subjected to water boarding as part of training without harm. A fair number of journalists have volunteered to be water boarded, so they can write about the experience. Those in include Kaj Larsen and Christopher Hitchins They report a horrible experience, but they would not have volunteered if they thought it would seriously injure them, and it did not. How many other forms of "torture" has a list of journalists volunteering for it? None.

3. The alternative to water boarding is rendition


FBI interrogation methods do not work on terrorists. Criminals succumb to bribery, such as offering reduced sentences or better prison conditions. Ideologues consider bribes an insult. Good cop/bad cop methods are viewed as weak and confused. The FBI wants confessions; the CIA wants information.

No moral leader is going to let a terrorist enjoy a comfortable retirement while the terrorist holds information that could save innocent lives. The policy of the Clinton Administration was to turn over detainees to other countries [6. http://tinyurl.com...] who would use torture to extract information. The Bush Administration changed that policy to use the more limited enhanced interrogation techniques, including water boarding in the extreme, in order to improve the reliability of the information over that being obtained by poorly trained foreign interrogators, and also to prevent the severe torture used.

The Obama Administration has continued a policy of rendition.

The impasse and lack of detention options, critics say, have led to a de facto policy under which the administration finds it easier to kill terrorism suspects, a key reason for the surge of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Renditions, though controversial and complex, represent one of the few alternatives.

In a way, rendition has become even more important than before,” said Clara Gutteridge, director of the London-based Equal Justice Forum.. [7. http://tinyurl.com...]

Killing terrorists eliminates the possibility of gaining information from them. Rendition provides less reliable information, and has fewer controls.

4. There is a slippery slope to complete ineffectiveness

Opponents of water boarding often claim that allowing the method might lead to widespread use of torture. The error in that argument is that all slopes are slippery. The check is independent judicial review and Congressional oversight.

It does not necessarily follow from this understandable fear of the slippery slope that we can never consider the use of non lethal infliction of pain, if its use were to be limited by acceptable principles of morality. After all, imprisoning a witness who refuses to testify after being given immunity is designed to be punitive— that is painful. Such imprisonment can, on occasion, produce more pain and greater risk of death than non lethal torture. Yet we continue to threaten and use the pain of imprisonment to loosen the tongues of reluctant witnesses. [8. Dershowitz, Alan M. (2008-10-01). Why Terrorism Works: Understanding the Threat, Responding to the Challenge (p. 147). Yale University Press.]

There is a slippery slope in the direction of so protecting terrorists that they fail to reveal any useful information, even information they might have otherwise revealed under conventional interrogation. Rodriquez reports that al Qaeda had told their operatives that they would be treated gently if captured. A single slap across the face so shocked some of the captured terrorists that they began talking. Kalid Sheik Mohammad told CIA captors to have their lawyers talk to his lawyers in New York. He talked after being water boarded.

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. [9. Rodriguez Jr., Jose A.; Harlow, Bill (2012-04-30). Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives (p. 72).]

jopo

Con

Torture Doesn’t Always Obtain Accurate Information.

a) Inherent Flaw in Torture The use of torture isn’t guaranteed to produce the desired information. The main goal of an individual being tortured is to say whatever is required to stop the pain. Many people who have been subjected to torture claim afterward any truthful information they revealed was, “intentionally incomplete or mixed with false information”2 and they said what they did to “appease the torturer, not to reveal the truth”2. This idea is solidified by Douglas A. Johnson, the Executive Director at the Center for Victims of Torture, who stated that almost every client he dealt with would falsely confess to a crime, give up inessential information or provide the names of innocent acquaintances if tortured3. Since there is a clear chance of inaccuracy of the knowledge obtained, we can’t justify subjecting an individual to it on the premise of saving lives.

b) Covert Organizations are Constructed to Reduce the Efficiency of Interrogation.

The accuracy of interrogation is decreased by terrorist cells’ structure which are made so that individuals don’t know enough information to compromise a plan, and to be flexible in the event that a member is captured. This is reflected in an excerpt from the “Terrorist Manual”, a book found in Osma Bin Laden’s house that served as a guide for terrorist cells,

“It should be composed of many cells whose members do not know one another, so that if a cell member is caught the other cells would not be affected, and work would proceed normally.”4

The practicality of this structure is seen in a study that mapped the terrorist cell involved in the 9/11 attacks. This study found that even those who were considered team members for this operation where “beyond the horizon of observability” from each other5. Given how terrorist cells are organized, it is unlikely that an individual has all of the information needed to prevent an attack; furthermore the group ought to respond quickly to their loss. This decreases the validity of their information, showing a lack of justification to torture them.

c) Alternative Methods are Available.

Next we turn to how other methods are more successful for collecting crucial information, even in high-stress times. An example of this is the testimony of Matthew Alexander, who served as an interrogator in Iraq and relied on relationship building and other intellectual interrogation methods6. He credits this method as highly successful, especially in comparison to the more violent methods that others proposed. The success of different interview methods is constantly under research, which led to the creation of the FBI’s High Value Detainee Intervention Group (HIG).7 HIG is a group that focuses on only using relationship—building techniques to obtain information, and on researching different, non-torture methods for interviewing suspects. HIG has been called in to work on cases like the Boston bombing8. The use and success of HIG reinforces how, even in ticking time bomb situations, we shouldn’t rely on torture because other methods are available and are more-reliable.

Torture Corruptions all Individuals Involved

a) Inherently Corrupts the Victim.

Torture is used to coerce the truth out of an unwilling subject. It is clear that torture, of all forms, has long-lasting negative effects on its victims. Stephen Xenakis, MD, explains, “Victims of abusive interrogation suffer with anxiety and depressive disorders, manifest brief psychotic disorders, including delusions and hallucinations, develop obsessive-compulsive disorder, and are moved to the brink of suicide.”9 It is important to weigh these long-terms effects as they are some of the costs of choosing to employ torture techniques.

b) Requires Corruption of U.S. Citizens.

Allowing for torture in ticking time bomb situations would require training U.S. citizens in techniques, such as water boarding, and allowing them to conduct such behaviors on human beings. What needs to be seen here is the psychological consequences for the torturer. While in this situation it is easy to follow orders and not question the morality of one’s actions, this was exemplified in in the Milgram Experiment, where 65% participants were willing to deliver the maximum shock level to another person, based on a perceived authority’s urging10. However, interviews with people who conducted torture interrogations revealed that afterward they suffered from the same psychological effects as their victims2. Here again we see the long-lasting effects of allowing torture, in any situation.

Moving on to my opponent’s case.

Water boarding is effective

Zubayda

My opponent referenced a 2007 article from CNN to show how the use of water boarding resulted in obtaining crucial information from Abu Zubayda. What’s important to note is that since 2007 the story of Abu Zubayda has changed dramatically. First, in 2009 Ali Soufan came forward stating that he obtained Zubayda’s testimony without the use of torturea. Then later, as more intelligence was gathered it seemed that Zubayda didn’t even have a crucial role al Qaedab.

Zubayda example aside, what needs to be considered is that torture, like water boarding, is effective at obtaining some information. However, referencing my first point, this information has a high risk of being inaccurate.

Water boarding is non-lethal

My opponent claims we will be putting the terrorist in “temporary discomfort”, yet he rejects the potential resulting psychological harms. His main support for this is that people who volunteered to be water boarded experienced no psychological trauma afterward. Yet, this cannot be applied to cases where someone who, after previous torture failed, is put in this state without consent. In fact, referring back to my case, Xenakis directly addresses how water boarding causes psychological harm9.

The alternative to water boarding is rendition

My opponent fails to acknowledge any the more effective alternatives to torture in his case. He references the Bush Administration’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” to improve the reliability of the information; yet, look at Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who, after being tortured by Egyptians during the Bush Administration, gave false information that pushed them in the wrong directionc. In comparison, the group HIG stands out for being anti-torture and effective.

There is a slippery slope to complete ineffectiveness

Here my opponent claims that without the use of harsh tactics, we will never obtain information from terrorists. Again this is directly contradicted by my HIG example.

Summary

This issue boils down to if we can justify the use of torture to save lives. My opponent claimed it would be immoral to not use techniques like water boarding because “the potential is for saving many innocent lives and the worst case for the detainee is that he is terrorized temporarily”. I have shown how the information obtained from torture has a high risk of not achieving the desired end because it is unreliable, and that the means it involves produce many immoral consequences, harming both the detainee and the torturer. This is why the use of torture is not justified in ticking time bomb situations.

References

1 http://tinyurl.com...

2 http://tinyurl.com...

3 http://tinyurl.com...

4 http://tinyurl.com...

5 http://tinyurl.com...

6 http://tinyurl.com...

7 http://tinyurl.com...

8 http://tinyurl.com...

9 http://tinyurl.com...

10 http://tinyurl.com...

a http://www.nytimes.com...

bhttp://www.washingtonpost.com...

c http://tinyurl.com...


Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Pro


The standard CIA interrogation procedure always begins with conventional “friendly” (non-harsh) methods. For the hardened terrorists at GITMO the friendly methods worked about half the time. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) was insulted that FBI interrogators thought he took his ideology so lightly that he might be charmed out of it. When friendly techniques fail, progressively harsher methods used. In some cases, a mere face slap works, because the detainee immediately realizes he is in a box, and his hope is in cooperating. About one case in five hundred at GITMO proceeded to water boarding, which then yielded extremely information.


We are debating what should be allowed under time pressure with lives are at stake and conventional interrogation has failed.


1. Water boarding is effective


a) Con's claim is that harsh methods should not be used at all because they are not guaranteed to work. Friendly interrogation failed about half the time at GITMO, so by Con's logic friendly interrogation should be abandoned due to it's inherent flaw of not always working. Failure to always work is not a flaw, it's a probability to deal with.


The most likely outcome of not being able to use harsh methods is that hardened terrorists will provide no information. That's what KSM did.


Because interrogators know some things that are true, a detainee can be caught in lies. That encourages him to tell the truth. Rodriquez reports a case in which an FBI interrogator revealed everything known about the individual in an attempt to build friendship, thereby destroying the possibility of verification. Con's [1] is Deshowitz's paper supporting torture warrants in which he points out that the problem of reliability is treated by verification; it does not support Con's case.


b) Con argues that terrorists divide into cells to try to minimize the damage of one operative talking. Obviously intelligence can overcome the methods, because it does. Terrorist leadership has to know all the key participants in a particular operation, so one counter technique is to capture and interrogate the leadership. KSM gave up the link to the plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, and the FBI then found the plans and foiled the plot.


c) Con provides no evidence that continuing with friendly methods is more reliable. All the evidence Con provides is opinion that friendly methods might have worked. We have the specific cases of KSM and Abu Zubaydah when friendly methods did not work, and water boarding did.


d) Ali Soufan, in Con's [a], worries about building a court case rather than obtaining live-saving information under time pressure. Soufan admits that he was withdrawn from interrogations when harsh methods were introduced, so he has no direct knowledge of how effective the techniques were. He says that some useful information was obtained from Zubaydah using conventional interrogation, but grants that water boarding produced the substantial results. Three sources say that Zubaydah broke after 25-30 seconds of water boarding, producing the useful information obtained. The only difference between the CIA and Soufan is whether Zubaydah gave any useful information before being water boarded.


Soufan believes that befriending would have gotten everything, but the belief is not supported by evidence.


e) Con's [b] asserts that water boarding worked, but the information obtained did not foil any terrorist plots. Notice the careful phrasing, “not foiling a plot” is not “did not obtain useful information.” Soufan agreed with the CIA sources that useful information was obtained. The article confirms that conventional interrogation techniques did not work, and that water boarding obtained all the information Zubaydah possessed.


Interrogation must be tried without knowing how useful the outcome will be. It's the business of the CIA to piece together bits of information, discover what is true, and develop effective intelligence, and they do it.


f) Con's [6] does not address ticking time bomb situations or seasoned radical terrorists. The author was an Air Force officer who did low-level interrogations in Iraq. The only example he gives is how he made friends with a 12-year-old. “By the end of his stay with us, after we had coddled him, ensured his comfort and treated him with affection despite his contempt for us, he started to warm up.” That did not work with KSM.


2. Water boarding is non-lethal


a) Con argues that torture in all forms inherently corrupts the “victims.” Terrorists, the alleged victims, in the uncorrupted state randomly kill innocents to induce terror, throw acid at little girls who want to go to school, and, in the case of KSM, cut off journalists' heads on television. According to Con if they are then so much as slapped they will become corrupt. (Slapping is now banned by executive order as being a form of torture.) We have no obligation to preserve their non-corrupt state of being fanatical terrorists.


Con's [3] is an opinion from an unqualified writer who makes no distinction among methods of torture. Is a face slap really just like The Rack? Con offers no evidence that “any form” of torture corrupts the victims. Con's [9] is a bogus link. Note that the CIA method of water boarding simulates drowning without the subject ingesting water; it cannot be compared to water boarding wherein water is forced down a persons throat and he actually suffers drowning.


b) The Milgram Experiment assumes that there are no judicial or Congressional constraints, so that horrific methods of torture are used, and that using horrific methods will then damages the interrogators. We are debating methods limited to water boarding.


Con's {2} is an abstract. The one relevant sentence says nothing about limiting torture to water boarding and the generalization is unwarranted. Con's [10] is a bogus links.


No enduring psychological bad effects of water boarding have been found in either the trainers who applied it to U.S. subjects or to the subjects. Given the litigious nature of our society, if there were even the slimmest grounds for claiming damage, it's probable that someone would have sued.


Suppose there is risk. Risk is part of many jobs. The firemen who rushed into the burning twin towers risked physical and psychological harm, and those harms occurred. Con's argument would make it illegal for firemen to enter burning buildings. The same applies to soldiers fighting terrorists. Risks must be taken.


3. The alternative to water boarding is rendition


Con claims I failed ”to acknowledge any the more effective alternatives to torture.” In fact, I specifically addressed FBI methods and explained why they failed with hardened terrorists.


Con cites a case in which rendition produced incorrect information. As I explained, that is a reason for allowing the CIA to use the specified harsh interrogation techniques.


Con did not address my argument that every leader, including Obama, recognizes that sometimes when friendly methods have failed, nothing other than torture has even a chance of working. With lives at stake, torturing the terrorist even without a guarantee of success is the moral choice.


4. There is a slippery slope to complete ineffectiveness


I did not claim we will never obtain information without the use of harsh tactics. Publicly banning any harsh techniques removes the incentive for terrorists to try to gain a friend during conventional interrogation. Even a face slap has been banned. The al Qaeda manual can say, "Only ask when dinner will be served. You're safe." The slippery slope is to eliminating interrogation entirely.


Summary


Most of my opponent's case is built on arguments that no method of interrogation is guaranteed to work, so therefore torture is pointless. But at the same time she argues that friendly methods sometimes work and so should be used. The facts are that friendly methods do sometimes work and so should be tried first, but that sometimes they do not work and then harsh, but not horrific methods, most often do work.


jopo

Con

This is definitely shaping up to be a great debate, I look forward to the last round.


Overview


I will start with condensing this debate. Pro agreed that torture is not guaranteed; he claims, “Interrogation must be tried without knowing how useful the outcome will be”. This concession alters the scope of this debate to if we should use torture on the chance that it might allow us to obtain useful information; the moral arguments are now the crux of our determination of justification. Pro’s stance is the possible outcome of saving many lives outweighs harming the individuals involved. My stance is that there isn’t enough assurance that we will save lives to justify torture. Now to address his attacks.


As our first points directly clash, I will affirm my first 3 subpoints to address his point.


Water boarding is effective


a) My opponent states that acceptance of my ineffectiveness argument also negates the use of friendly interrogation, as it is flawed. This ignores the burden of torture’s unique moral harms, not present in the alternative.


Also, friendly interrogation methods aren’t static – they’re constantly evolving, hence the new psychological research being done to enhance non-violent interrogation techniques.7


My opponent discusses how a detainee may be caught in a lie encouraging them to share the truth; he then uses Rodriquez to show nonviolent techniques are ineffective. Yet, the first option doesn’t require torture - both are non-violent interrogation techniques being investigated by HIG.7 Furthermore, a study investigated how bad “torture interrogators” are at detecting lies, and sometimes they were worse than civilians.11 Torture interrogation doesn’t teach the skills needed in ticking time bomb situations; emphasizing friendly interrogation promotes researching effective ways to obtain information.


b) My opponent argues that the struggles of a terrorist organization can be overcome; while this is true in a few specific cases, my goal wasn’t to prove that under every circumstance this will hinder us. However, this point does add to why interrogation is likely to yield inaccurate information, further weakening the justification of its use.


c) My opponent failed to attack my sources, or the idea (seen above in a) that HIG is improving nonviolent torture through research.



As my second point clashes with Pro’s, I shall first rebuild my case and then attack the argumentation that supports his.


Water boarding is non-lethal


a) My opponent attacks this with two arguments – first, that the terrorists already commit horrendous acts; second, that torture can be only a face slap. 1- The fact that someone has already committed horrendous acts, and/or may plan to in the future doesn’t give us the right to strip them of their human dignity. Logic like this shapes torture as an act of revenge where we punish the detainee for their decisions, thus shifting the focus away from the desire to obtain useful information. 2- While torture, as defined by the CIA, can simply consist of a face slap, the majority of my opponent’s case is justifying water boarding. Looking at the potential benefit of the information water boarding may yield requires accepting its consequences. Furthermore, since the debate is if the use of all of these methods would be justified in a ticking time bomb situation, we must consider the most extreme options this includes.


b) The Milgram Experiment reveals how an individual will perform horrendous acts on another if instructed to.10 Applying this our debate, people would follow orders to torture an individual and their harm isn’t considered or felt until afterward.


His Case:


My opponent responded to my logical critique (that reporters and other people willingly underwent this procedure, but the effects they felt don’t apply to someone who was tortured without consent) by simply claiming they would have sued if harmed. This doesn’t address how these cases are un-relatable.


My opponent then claims that risks are part of the job, but his fireman entering the Twin Towers metaphor is flawed. First, alternatives exist to achieve reasonably similar means, without burdening a torturer. Second, the firemen’s reaction was a direct response – in the moment they decided to risk their lives to save others. In the instance we are discussing, torturing another would happen after much forethought, both by the torturer and everyone who participated in acquiring a “torture warrant”. Finally, as the Milgram Experiment backs, the torturer doesn’t consider their own psychological harm, they simply follow instructions.



The alternative is rendition


In this point Pro stated that if we don’t allow ourselves to conduct torture, we will simply render criminals when we need information. This was countered by my rendition example. This was an attack on my opponent’s claim that the Bush administration pushed for more “enhanced interrogation techniques” to prevent rendition - it still occurred with al-Libi.c Also, my opponent claims that even Obama recognizes the need for torture, however, Obama is a supporter of the HIG group that promotes nonviolent interrogation.7 8


There is a slippery slope


My opponent claims that not allowing torture would have long-term ramifications, stating, “the slippery slope is to eliminating interrogation entirely”. This is actually the current status quo, as dictated by numerous international laws, including some set forward by the UN.12


Sources


1 I included Deshowitz because he concedes that reliability can’t be guaranteed, “Torture, it turns out, can sometimes produce truthful information.” Only sometimes. As stated in the opening, this greatly shifts the debate.


2 This links to the abstract of a paper I was able to obtain in full and directly quoted in my case, so I was not “generalizing” the support as my opponent claims.


3 This opinion comes from the Center for Victims of Torture, as I stated, and the opinion is qualified as they work with people who have been subjected to torture.


4 unattacked


5 unattacked


6 This was a testimony about someone with 14 years of experience who authored a book on this subject, who attests to the inefficiency of torture interrogation and advocates for friendly methods under all circumstances.


7 Unattacked


8 Unattacked


9 links to the source for Xenakis’ paper that directly outlines the harms of torture. I found it available at the following source: http://tinyurl.com...


10 links to a summary of the Milgram Experiment


a Pro misconstrues this as it is directly said, “There was no actionable intelligence gained from using enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah that wasn’t, or couldn’t have been, gained from regular tactics.”


b this article said, “Abu Zubaida was not even an official member of al-Qaeda


c unattacked



Summary


Given the moral repercussions of torture and the unlikelihood of its success, we can’t justify its use.


New Sources


11 http://tinyurl.com...


12 http://www.un-documents.net...

Debate Round No. 3
RoyLatham

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for a good debate.

1. Water boarding is effective

Recall the ticking time bomb scenario. Information is obtained that there is a terrorist plot to explode nuclear bomb in New York City. A terrorist is captured with good evidence that he knows details of the plot. The terrorist is interrogated, but he rebuffs befriending techniques as an insult to his deep convictions, as did KSM. The evidence of the involvement of the terrorist is presented to a judge, who rules that there is ticking time bomb situation, and that the detainee is likely to have important information. The judge issues a warrant allowing for harsh interrogation ranging from a face slap through water boarding.

The downside of not using the harsh techniques is that New York City will almost certainly be destroyed – ten million people, lovely parks, skyscrapers, and all the rest. From the GITMO data we have a reasonable estimate of the probability of saving the city through use of harsh interrogation. About half of detainees did not yield to conventional interrogation. Of those who were subsequently subjected to harsh methods, all but three of more than 500 revealed what they knew using methods short of water boarding. Of the three subjected to water boarding, two provided the information. That is about 99.8% certainty that the information will be successfully obtained through harsh interrogation once conventional interrogation fails. In one case, a single face slap worked. For Zubadaya, it took 25-30 seconds of water boarding.

I presented all the references [especially 9] in previous rounds, and Con took no exception. Con correctly maintains that 99.8% probability of success is not certainty. I acknowledged at the outset there is no certainty, claiming only the "potential" for saving lives.

What is the moral hazard in using harsh interrogation? The terrorist won't suffer physical harm; he's monitored by a physician. Con claims some possibility that the terrorist, already a fanatic eager to kill ten million people, might suffer psychological harm. If the bomb goes off, the terrorist and the interrogator will be vaporized along with everyone else, a downside for the terrorist worse than water boarding and for the interrogator worse than potential anxiety attacks.

I claim that no moral person could choose to substantially increase the probability of the city be destroyed. The potential harm by water boarding is so slight, and the potential good from water boarding is so great, it's not a close decision.

If the decision is really so obvious, why don't U.S. presidents agree? They do. President Obama finds it politically expedient to be publicly opposed to so much as slapping the face of a terrorist, but he quietly turns over terrorists to be brutally tortured by other countries. Clinton and Bush used rendition. The responsibility of the president is to protect American lives, not preserve the health of murderous fanatics. A system of warrants and limited harsh interrogation techniques is far superior to rendition.

Con's objections

a) Con grants that conventional interrogation is unreliable. Therefore that's not an argument against using harsh interrogation. The moral argument is separate. The moral hazard in harsh interrogation is limited and doubtful. The moral hazard in not using harsh interrogation is that many innocent people die.

Con argues that friendly interrogation techniques are improving. That's good, but it admits that they need improvement. We agree that friendly techniques should be tried first. It doesn't address what should be done when friendly techniques fail.

Con says interrogators using harsh techniques are sometimes poor at detecting lies. CIA interrogators are unquestionably highly skilled. I gave an example of the FBI blowing an interrogation. The harsh techniques work about 99.8% of the time.

b) Con admits that harsh interrogation works. Its a matter of risks and probabilities.

c) It's good that friendly interrogation methods, working half the time at GITMO, are improving. Our debate is about when they fail.

2. Water boarding is non-lethal

Con says “The fact that someone has already committed horrendous acts, and/or may plan to in the future doesn’t give us the right to strip them of their human dignity.” We lock up mass murderers for life, a greater insult to their human dignity than a face slap or water boarding. It's justified not by their past acts, but to save lives by preventing future acts.

All harsh methods, including the face slap, are currently considered torture. Water boarding is needed about 0.6% of the time, so whatever the risks of harm from water boarding, it is weighted by it's low frequency of use.

Risks to the interrogators

The Milgram experiment is not relevant because nothing nearly so harsh is within the scope of the resolution. Con speculates that harms might exist that are now hidden. That can be said of anything.

Con provides no evidence that the practice of water boarding with CIA safeguards harms the interrogator. With no evidence, the claim is pure speculation that can be said of anything. I argue it is unlikely because not only has Con found no evidence, but apparently no one who has had the task has found any evidence.

Con argues that firemen only take risks on the spur of the moment. That's wrong. Firemen know well that they will be taking life-threatening risks, and they choose the profession anyway. So do policemen, soldiers, CIA agents, and many others. Most are aware of the psychological risks of their high-stress jobs as well. Soldiers know about post-traumatic stress disorder. Con is arguing that a psychological harm that's never been observed in the CIA is enough to shift probabilities to allow innocents to die.

Risks to the terrorists

Xenakis says there is no data from which to draw conclusions about the psychological after effects of water boarding by CIA methods. He says he found terrorists subjected to harsh interrogation methods “suffer with anxiety and depressive disorders … Many are demoralized and hopeless.” Correct, being demoralized and hopeless is why they talk-- to regain hope. Our debate is about the choice between keeping terrorists bright and enthusiastic, and saving innocent lives by demoralizing him.

Xenakis doesn't distinguish between methods used by the CIA and radical abuse; he speaks in generalities and references studies of unlimited torture. He does not show understanding that CIA water boarding simulates drowning while historically water boarding used actual drowning. He does not claim that any of the adverse psychological affects are more than temporary. The paper is published by the IRCT, an advocacy group. It is not peer-reviewed science; it is more like a blog post. Xenakis and the IRCT never so much as acknowledge the moral hazard in letting terrorists not talk.

3. Rendition is the alternative to water boarding

Rendition occurred under Bush and Clinton, and that it continues under Obama. Harsh interrogation is designed to minimize the need for rendition, while improving the quality of the information obtained. Bush continued rendition while attempting to minimize the necessity. Obama says he supports friendly interrogation, and that's good, but he knows the necessity of rendition, and he uses it extensively.

4. There is a slippery slope to complete ineffectiveness

Con says International Law already prohibits any interrogation. (Terrorists are not signatories to any international treaties or agreements, so they are not covered.) Con is granting that the end result of giving terrorists no reason to talk is at hand. We're not there yet, Abandoning attempts to save lives is not justified.

----------------

I did not contest Con's sources for such minutiae as that terrorists divide in cells. My previous objections stand. My uncontested sources give the facts of what has worked and with what frequency.

jopo

Con

It’s been a pleasure debating you Roy. Final round here we go.


Effectiveness
My opponent states, “I acknowledged at the outset there is no certainty claiming only the “potential” for saving lives.” While true, he continually misconstrues just what this potential is, claiming, “That is about 99.8% certainty that the information will be successfully obtained through harsh interrogation once conventional interrogation fails”. To clarify the effectiveness argument – what my opponent shows is that the use of harsh interrogation produces some information; however, what my first point illustrates is the multiple reasons why torture likely won’t produce accurate information. When evaluating the ticking time bomb situation, what my case upholds is that torture likely will not save lives because we most likely won’t get true information. This drastically reduces its potential to save lives – showing why its use in ticking time bomb situations is not justified.

a) First, my opponent did not re-attack my sources after I rebuilt them last round, thus my evidence showing how likely people are to lie under harsh interrogation stands. Second, my opponent essentially claims that this is a non-unique point since conventional interrogation fails. This is not true; while both are ineffective to some degree, conventional interrogation isn’t shown to produce false information like harsh interrogation. Also, harsher methods’ unique moral harms combined with the unlikelihood that it will yield true information is why its use is not justified.

b) Pro attacked this by saying, “Con admits that harsh interrogation works. It’s a matter of risks and probabilities.” To clarify, this point shows that the reliability of information obtained is further weakened through terrorist organization and structure. Overall, the ineffectiveness of torture makes the probabilities of the desired results too low to justify the risks.

c) My opponent’s whole argument against this is that we need to focus on what to do when friendly interrogation fails. First, under this point I uphold that once torture is not an option it causes an increase in research in new, non-violent interrogation methods, increasing efficiency. I then also illustrated how interrogators are bad at detecting lies. My opponent claims this is simply part of the fact that these methods work, “99.8% of the time” – the point to be seen here, is that there is a high likelihood that, given how the interrogation training doesn’t accurately equip interrogators, its use will not obtain accurate information.

With effectiveness, what needs to be seen is that torture is a gamble on saving lives – given all the factors that contribute to the information being flawed, this a gamble we’re likely to lose.

Water boarding is non-lethal
My opponent addressed my human dignity argument by bringing up how we imprison criminals and harm their human dignity due to their past actions - correlating torturing a terrorist to how we punish criminals. This actually expands on my argument that justifying with past actions shapes torture as a punishment, not a means to obtain information. Again, in this instance, the goal of torture becomes not to save lives, but to punish one for wrong acts.

I then provided two attacks against why we must consider the effects of the harshest interrogation techniques, including water boarding. My opponent simply countered these by claiming the harms are less significant since they have a “low frequency of use”. This doesn’t justly attack my claim that if we are looking at the use of all torture methods in a ticking time bomb situation, we must consider the harshest consequences.

On the fire fighter metaphor, my opponent addresses 1 of my 3 critiques, by talking about fireman acting in the moment. The consideration of sacrifices that some people make beforehand about the possible risks deals with only their primary goal – a fire fighter is supposed to react immediately to a burning building. The CIA agents interrogating terrorists have many other primary goals that they consider – travel, friendly interrogation, etc. This psychological harm is not a necessary risk or one my opponent showed is considered before.

Moving on to my own case:

a) My opponent again hammers on the Milgram Experiment, which was used to explain the mindset of a torturer and illustrate how people will follow orders to torture another human and then they are hurt in the long-term. However, my opponent then claims, “Con provides no evidence that the practice of water boarding with CIA safeguards harms the interrogator.” This is not true; I referenced my use of my source 2 under this point—that interviews of interrogators showed they suffered the same symptoms as their victims. Again, Pro did not attack this source after I reaffirmed it. Now, these torturers were not all necessarily conducting the CIA safeguarded water boarding treatment; however, in all of these cases interrogators were harming the human dignity of their victims. The point of torture is to demoralize the victim until they feel trapped and feel the need to make it stop by whatever means (hence giving false information); this act has psychological consequences.

b) I would like to start by expanding on the harms excerpt Pro selected from [9], “Victims of abusive interrogation suffer with anxiety and depressive disorders, manifest brief psychotic disorders, including delusions and hallucinations, develop obsessive-compulsive disorder, and are moved to the brink of suicide. Many are demoralized and hopeless.” Next, Xenakis directly acknowledges the CIA water boarding methods, he finds, “the guidelines published by the Office of Medical Services (OMS) of the US Central Intelligence Agency recognized the inherent dangers of water boarding and other stress-inducing tactics.” Then, he summarizes, “There is no question about it – water boarding inflicts serious physical harm – and it inflicts serious psychological damage. It has no place in the armamentarium of effective interrogation.” Finally, my opponent claims this article is, “more like a blog post”.Not only does Xenakis identify himself as, “a retired US brigadier general and army psychiatrist”, but this article opens with, “Parts of this article are adapted from Condemning Torture & Abuse: A Call to Action, by S.N. Xenakis, Psychiatric Times. In Press.” Given all of this, there are clear psychological harms to water boarding and other forms of torture, as Xenakis reliably shows.

Rendition
My opponent claims, “Harsh interrogation is designed to minimize the need for rendition”; yet, he fails to actually uphold how this is achieved. He referenced the Bush administration’s push for harsher interrogation, but after this was countered with the al-Libi examplec, he simply states, “Bush continued rendition while attempting to minimize the necessity.” Ultimately, he has failed to prove how using interrogation will actually decrease rendition.

Slippery Slope
Pro claims that terrorists are not covered by international law, such as that put forth by the UN; however, the UN document [12] is titled, “Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”. The UN does not seek to prevent torture only of those who sign international treaties or agreements; rather, the goal is that “all persons” are protected from torture. Again, this is the status quo, not a result that would come if we negate the resolution.
In conclusion, there is no justification to use torture – it is likely to fail and holds serious moral consequences. If we are in a ticking time bomb situation, we ought to spend our time using more reliable options.

Sources
Last round I rebuilt all of my sources and my opponent failed to attack them. Given that I rebuilt the Zubayada sources my opponent had misrepresented in his attacks, I win this evidence clash thus nullifying one of his examples.

Debate Round No. 4
54 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
Data on effectiveness is given in the Rodriquez book. An example is that KSM gave up info that foiled the plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. Dershowitz cites Israeli experience. Every Administration has used rendition because it works. There was an incident in which a Marine in Afghanistan fired a single shot into the ground to terrify a terrorist; the terrorist gave up the location of an ambush which saved many soldiers lives. (The Marine was court-marshaled, because only the CIA is authorized to use harsh methods.) As far as I know, the claims that harsh methods don't work are entirely from sources with no experience in using it.

We have the data point that water boarding 83 times took about two weeks. We have reports from journalists that agree it is utterly terrifying; it produces the sensation of drowning.

The terrorists in GITMO were the worst of the worst. KSM personally cut off the head of journalist Daniel Pearl on television. They bombed innocent civilians without hesitation. The relevance is that torture can be taken off the table by the terrorists simply agreeing to the conventional rules of war, signing a treaty to that effect, and obeying the treaty. Terrorists won't do that because their business is entirely in the practice of killing and torturing innocents, and they won't agree to give that up.
Posted by rross 3 years ago
rross
Here's the link for the big-boy pants interview:

http://www.mediaite.com...
Posted by rross 3 years ago
rross
"There is also a matter of announced policy..."

Actually, water-boarding doesn't sound all that scary to me. I mean, I'm sure it IS horrible, and I'm sure sleep deprivation and being slammed up against the wall and all of it is awful. Personally, I'd tell interrogators everything as soon as they looked at me sternly. But I can't help but feel that fear of water-boarding might not be much of a motivator for hardened soldier types.

"Cutting off heads on TV and throwing acid on little girls is part of their start operating procedures..."

I don't think anyone in Guantanamo Bay was ever charged with crimes like this. Even if they were, I'm not sure what it has to do with the effectiveness of water-boarding in obtaining useful information. Of course, you may think that water-boarding is an appropriate punishment for anyone associated with terrorist organizations, but that's a separate argument and not one brought up in the debate.
Posted by rross 3 years ago
rross
@RoyLatham, Rodriguez himself says that even with torture, information can take a long time to obtain:

"One of the things that really baffles me is that people don"t understand to this day that there are two processes involved here. One of them is the actual interrogation, which doesn"t last very long...and then after they become compliant it is a much longer process, in which people who are knowledgeable and people who are not interrogators"who are actually analysts"get involved with these prisoners in an attempt to elicit as much information as they can." http://www.newyorker.com...

After being water-boarded 183 times, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed became "compliant" and talkative, but most (if not all) of what he said was misleading. Rodriguez makes all sorts of claims about the importance of the information he obtained (including locating Bin Laden) but it's mostly been indignantly and officially denied.

So when you say it's wrong to "ignore what we know", well, what do we know? I'm really kind of fascinated by this, because I really, honestly, can't see any evidence that torture works. But you - and you're not alone - seem to take it for granted that it does. Where does this assumption come from?

In a TV interview, Rodriguez said, "We needed to get everybody in government to put their big boy pants on...[and authorize torture]" Big-boy pants. It's as if it's part of the male romance...one day, when the stakes are high enough, will YOU put on your big-boy pants and do what it takes to save lives...?? That's the best explanation I can come up with, because I find this faith in torture baffling.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 3 years ago
GarretKadeDupre
I read that the Milgram Experiment wasn't very useful because volunteers likely suspected it was an experiment. Richard Wiseman, I think, said that, and in real life situations, people are less willing to torture others based on authoritative commands.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
rross, The CIA says that it impossible to measure relative effectiveness. We'd like to know how often befriending works given, say, a month deadline. It's certainly possible to say whether verifiable information is obtain by harsh interrogation, because the information is verifiable. But it's not possible to say with certainty how often befriending would have worked. The idea that because precise measurements of alternatives are not available, we should ignore what we know -- well, that's wrong.

There is also a matter of announced policy. Once a firm policy is announced that under no circumstances will any detainee ever have to suffer any discomfort beyond being imprisoned, and terrorists have incorporated that into their training, how well then will any interrogation method work? I think that interrogation of any kind will be pointless, except for a few new recruits.

One point that hasn't come up is that terrorists could choose to sign an international treaty that mutually agrees not to use any form of torture. The US has said it would do that. Terrorists won't do that. Cutting off heads on TV and throwing acid on little girls is part of their start operating procedures. That deepens the predicament of trying to deal in a civilized way with uncivilized fanatics.
Posted by rross 3 years ago
rross
"Rodriguez gives the specifics of many cases, so to discount the evidence you have to take the position that everything said by the CIA has to discounted as bias..."

Why? I don't know how you can say that when I've linked to an official CIA report as evidence.

Rodriguez was directly responsible for the water-boarding and he was under investigation for destroying evidence related to it. Now he has reinvented himself as a public speaker and he's published his memoirs, a bestseller, which you referenced. I haven't read this book, but I'm saying it's a biased source, not because it's from someone who used to work for the CIA but because it seems obvious to me that he is unlikely to be motivated to present an objective assessment of the interrogations, but rather to tell a story that presents his actions in the best possible way.

So when the CIA report says that it's impossible to measure the effectiveness of various interrogation techniques, I'm inclined to believe it over the Rodriguez self-justifying claims.

"That makes statistics on any particular method scant. "

Quite. The evidence is insufficient to decide one way or the other. Nevertheless you're sure that it works. That's interesting.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
@wrichlaw, The only way that one can tell truth from falsehood is when the answer can be checked against the real world. So if someone asks Zimmerman, "What were you really thinking?" it's obvious to everyone, including Zimmerman, that a lie could not be detected. Consequently, harsh interrogation only works on the very narrow range of questions where answers can be checked, and the interrogator has the resources to run down the answers to check them. Nothing can ever be accepted on face value. It doesn't work for, "Did you do it?" because the only way the answer is verifiable is if police didn't need to ask the question. The narrow situation where it can possibly work makes it very far from being a "truth serum." Under those limited circumstances, the high reliability is reasonable. the criminal knows his anwers will be checked and he takes that into account.

I think that everyone agrees that the least harsh methods should be used in every case, and that there is always a consideration of the moral tradeoff. In criminal cases, we'd usually prefer to grant a prisoner immunity from harsh interrogation as being preferable to getting verifiable information from him. However, it's possible to have ticking time bomb situations in criminal cases -- per the old "Dirty Harry" movie scenario where a kidnap victim was going to die if not found. In such cases, a judge could interpret laws to see if a torture warrant is justified. to get such a warrant, there would have to be good evidence that the suspect knows the information sought.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
Basically, the way I look at a 99.8% effective rate is that waterboarding would be seen as a "real" truth serum. Why not waterboard everyone instead of giving them a polygraph? As far as a viable domestic target for "waterboarding for truth" I could think of at least George Zimmerman.

IMHO we don't do this because no technique is proven to be this effective. This level of correlation is beyond the charts for something in which uncertainty is ever-present.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
@Roy: "At that point in the debate, I think it was adequately established that torture is at least sometimes effective, and sometimes quite quickly."

Agree, it's hard to deny that extreme methods may work in extreme situations. As far as I was concerned, even something far less than a 1% success rate would have been enough to prove this particular resolution, because we're dealing with saving millions of lives.

I don't have your source #9 in front of me, but I can reason through it based upon what was cited in the debate:

1) You cite that waterboarding worked 2/3 times when it was used...this is a 66.7% effective rate, and only on prisoners on which other methods were exhausted.

2) You cannot cross-apply this statistic to the rest of your 497 number in any meaningful fashion, IMHO, because a) they weren't waterboarded, b) it's possible that were they waterboarded without other techniques used beforehand, that they would have become even more reticent to cooperate, or become permanently broken by the experience.

3) There's not much reason to think that 499 of the 500 prisoners at GITMO actually cooperated, regardless of their stated compliance, and even less reason to think that they all "positively" contributed to the war on terror.
13 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments. After returning to this debate, I decided to score this a tie. The PRO position in this particular resolution, especially given the added framework PRO dictated in round #1, is extremely difficult to disprove, and CON did not have to accept this debate. As it was, I had extreme objections to one particular key point in PRO's argumentation, and so cannot hand a clean victory to PRO. Outside of this one key point, both sides did quite well in the debate, IMHO.
Vote Placed by alevan 3 years ago
alevan
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Reasons for voting decision: My reason is mainly that the definition of torture is a little favoring towards the pro, as he provided it. When we look at the actual resolution itself I think con overall had better rebuttals and evidence to help him. A very good debate nonetheless
Vote Placed by funwiththoughts 3 years ago
funwiththoughts
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Reasons for voting decision: Con never really provided a proper alternative for when less harsh interrogation fails.
Vote Placed by KingDebater 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: What convinced me were pro's arguments that waterboarding was not only effective, but non-lethal as well. Sources, in my view, were pretty evenly matched, and there wasn't anything warranting an S/g or conduct vote.
Vote Placed by rross 3 years ago
rross
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro argued that torture gets more potentially life-saving information than other techniques, but I honestly can't see where this is sourced, unless its in those books that aren't available online. Certainly, this goes against my own (meager) understanding, and against Pro's own source 4 in round 2 where Kiriakou thinks "it's unnecessary". As for Pro's claim that of 99.8% success for harsh interrogation techniques, I can't see where this is sourced either, and so it just counts as opinion. Against this is Con's claim that torture is unreliable and does not provide accurate information. She didn't have hard evidence for this either, but reports from torture survivors. Pro seemed to concede that torture is undesirable, since he stressed the relative gentleness of water boarding, and how it's used only when "friendly" techniques fail. Justification seemed to be based on torture's unique capability of extracting life-saving information, and without hard evidence, I was unconvinced.
Vote Placed by jzonda415 3 years ago
jzonda415
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Reasons for voting decision: Fantastic debate. After reading it, I must vote for Roy. Con failed to adequately address what must be done in these situations when such peaceful integration methods fail. Pro demonstrated to the effectiveness of water boarding very well. Con's arguments of degrading the terrorist's human dignity was not sound, and Pro successfully refuted that. Argument vote for Pro, but still great debate.
Vote Placed by Cermank 3 years ago
Cermank
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by bsh1 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro's impacts were clear and immediate, vs. the more nebulous and long-term impacts Con attempted to access (e.g. corruption.) Pro's responses re: the efficacy of torture were persuasive and managed to minimize the impact of Con's points. Ultimately, the efficacy of torture coupled with the impacts it garners outweighs Con's points. Thus, I grant my vote to Pro.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 3 years ago
Zaradi
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in da comments
Vote Placed by YYW 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: PRO argued that torture works, it's not lethal, it's better than alternatives, and arguments against it are more or less hogwash. CON tried to counter those incredibly compelling arguments with abstractions about "corruption" and with other notions that didn't actually undercut the thrust of what PRO was communicating. Very clear win for PRO, because, in PRO's words "no moral person could choose to substantially increase the probability of the city be destroyed. The potential harm by water boarding is so slight, and the potential good from water boarding is so great, it's not a close decision."