The Instigator
bennourse
Pro (for)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
ConservativePolitico
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

Water boarding is torture and should not be used by the U.S. and their allies.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
bennourse
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/30/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,526 times Debate No: 23956
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (6)

 

bennourse

Pro

I will argue that water boarding is torture and that it shouldn't be used for the reasons I will outline in my argument.
ConservativePolitico

Con

I accept.

In order to fulfill the Burden of Proof Pro must demonstrate that Water Boarding is torutre

AND

Should not be used by the US

AND

Should not be used by their [the US] allies.

Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1
bennourse

Pro

Thank you for taking up the challenge and I hope to have an interesting and fulfilling debate where we can both argue the issue productively!

You rightly broke my challenge up into three sections: That water boarding is torture; that it shouldn't be used by the US and that it shouldn't be used by their allies. I will tackle each point in turn and will like to not only see rebuttals from Con, but I'd also ask (if they're so kind) to give reasons why water boarding isn't torture, why the US should use it and why their allies should as well.

Firstly I will discuss why it is torture. To start, the definition of torture is "The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or in order to force them to do or say something". Water boarding is when a cloth or a rag or something material that isn't waterproof is placed over the victims head and in some way (it differs from person to person) it smothers the individual which doesn't allow them to breath without inhaling water through either their nose, mouth or both. It is torture because it causes severe pain, panic and discomfort to the individual because it doesn't allow them the basic need to breath normally; it would panic any one. Secondly, it is used as both a punishment and a way to make those who are under its effects to reveal information, be it true or not. There are a few individuals like Christopher Hitchens, Mancow Muller and Steve Harrigan who have undergone water boarding in a controlled environment and even in that situation they could recognise how painful it was and how it could make them talk if they were looking for information. From this, it is clear that water boarding is torture.

Secondly, the US shouldn't use it for the following reasons. To start with, torture against human beings is wrong and it shouldn't be endorsed. Torture is one of the worst experiences any one can go through; it isn't only physically damaging but is emotionally and psychologically damaging. Following on from this, more specifically, those who endorse water boarding on suspected terrorists or other suspected people because the enemy uses it seems to be a fallacy; they seem to endorse something they say they detest being done to their soldiers, more than a little contradictory I'm sure you'd agree. Just because the so called "enemy" uses the techniques, then surely those against those people wouldn't practice what they abhor and find disgusting practices? But they do; and they relish the opportunity to. Even if the prior points I have briefly set out are acceptable, torture isn't a full proof practice. Even those who have no information and are being water boarded will tell the torturers anything to make the pain cease; when you're being water boarded (as Christopher Hitchens discusses in both the video and his article linked below) anything is better than the horror and the desperation you're feeling in that moment.

On to the third point; why US' allies shouldn't either. It is for the same points above and I cannot see why the US or the allies should be taken as different in water boarding being wrong because as I have stated above, water boarding is torture and I believe torture to be wrong no matter what country/countries are involved.

Sources:

Torture definition: Google dictionary definition of "torture".

Christopher Hitchens on being water boarded: and his article on it http://www.vanityfair.com...

Water boarding information: http://en.wikipedia.org...
ConservativePolitico

Con

Waterboarding Is Not Torture

Waterboarding doesn't cause "severe pain". The biggest part of waterboarding includes induced panic but induced panic does not fit the definition of torture. Yes, it is harsh and uncomfortable but it is in no way torture. The practice of waterboarding by the United States was "closely monitored" and there were "medical personnel" standing by at all times. [1] This made sure that the victims of waterboarding were not hurt or damaged in anyway. There have been no deaths from waterboarding and no permanent damage to the victims. Even in your video, just as they did to the actual terrorists, they would stop in times of severe distress. No form of torture is stopped at the threshold of discomfort. Also, did you even watch this video all the way through? He says nothing about pain at all. He says it is a "smothering feeling" and a "drowning feeling". Nothing about pain at all.

Unless you can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that in every single waterboarding cycle someone was subject to "severe pain" then you cannot claim it to be torture.

Also, the victims of this "torture" are so undamaged and undetterred by this treatment that they gave thumbs up to the families of victims of the 9/11 attacks. [2]

There is no lasting physical damage and obviously no psychological damage from waterboarding and there is no proof or evidence that suggests severe pain during every water boarding cycle. Therefore you cannot count waterboarding as torture.

The United States

I want to point out that there is nothing in the Constitution prohibiting torture by the United States government. Therefore, it is completely legal for the government to employ torture techniques if they so choose. If the United States captures a foreign enemy agent they can legally by our national law torture them for information.

Also, the "enemy" you're referring to doesn't use waterboarding. They blow up skyscrapers and behead prisoners. I don't know where you're getting your information (because you don't feel the need to source anything) but terrorists use terror techniques. They certainly don't waterboard and even if they do, they do much worse as well.

Also, the CIA has admitted that waterboarding has been absolutely crucial to obtaining key information on terrorists. Waterboarding gained information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden among other important parts in our war on terror. [3] Your claims that waterboarding isn't tested is false. It has led to plenty of vital information. This pay off of information is more than enough in exchange for some discomfort on the part of enemy soldiers.

Our Allies

Just because you personally think something is "wrong" doesn't mean you can claim to ban it from other nations. US allies are numerous and all sovereign nations. They all have different cultures and different enemies. They can use waterboarding if they so wish. It is not torture. Just because you think something is morally "wrong" doesn't mean another country should refrain from it on your part. If an ally of the United States finds the pay off of the information gained from waterboarding an acceptable trade off for enemy discomfort then who are you, or me, or the United States to tell them otherwise?

Your moral outlook cannot weigh on national sovereignty.



[1] http://www.lasvegassun.com...
[2] http://articles.nydailynews.com...
[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
Debate Round No. 2
bennourse

Pro

There is still debate on whether it causes severe pain in every circumstance; however it CAN cause severe pain if used as it normally is against "enemies of the US": "Waterboarding can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage and death [1]". You cannot deny that it CAN cause severe pain and damage. Let me ask you; is being drowned painful? If so, then Waterboarding is a form of drowning and it will cause the same distress, pain and damage to the lungs as being drowned will especially after being waterboarded "183 times [2]" as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was in April 2009. This is the general practice of using waterboarding and even from moderate use, it can cause damage to the individual.

Also, the medical personnel/psychologists you are referring to were brought up on war crimes. Also, you frame it as them being there a good thing and that they would undoubtedly oversee and stop any unlawful techniques, but they were put in the "untenable position of "calibrating harm" rather than protecting and healing [s3]". So medical personnel being present meant nothing. Also, the "doctors are certainly guilty of war crimes for permitting torture to go forward and overseeing it while they had the authority to stop it [s3]". The doctors were there for the well being of the patients, they weren't there to oversee torture.

And there isn't any psychological damage? Even from that brief encounter with it, Christopher Hitchens said how he was waking up with the feeling of being smothered due to what he had experienced; if from such a brief encounter that had happened to him, what would the effect be on those subject to it for hours?

Now onto the law of the US. Torture under the law in the US states: "Under 18 USC Section 2340A, torture is defined as an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control [s2]". This is national law on torture inside the US, but for international law on torture: "The War Crimes Act of 1966 (18 USC Section 2441) prohibits any "grave breach" of the Geneva Conventions"[s2]. The Third Geneva convention states: "prisoners of war must always be "humanely treated" (Article 13) and prohibits "physical and mental torture, [and] any other form of coercion" (Article 18) [s2]". Also, the Fourth Geneva convention states "civilian prisoners must be protected from "cruel treatment and torture" and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment" (Article 3) [s2]". From that, you can clearly see that waterboarding is illegal.

They definitely have, and further, you state "even if they do, they do much worse as well". That is curious because, as I stated before, being waterboarded as many times as some of them have, I cannot think of much worse in terms of waterboarding. And as I have stated, waterboarding hasn't got one form that is used by all who practice it (as most forms of torture don't either) and therefore, to try and measure which is worse is further complicated.

In terms of gaining information, of course it will gain information because it's torture. Whether all of it is right or not is yet to be seen; if they are being put under this distress and this horrible procedure, of course they will get information. And those who carried out the deed claimed it to be getting them key information? A little suspect if they're the ones doing the torturing. And you say that "This pay off of information is more than enough in exchange for some discomfort on the part of the enemy soldiers"; this is not a view to be considered as humane or credible and it is torture and it goes against the Geneva convention agreements as I stated earlier.

In terms of their allies you say "just because you think something is "wrong" doesn't mean you can claim to ban it from other nations". I'm not the only one who thinks it's morally wrong, international law states that it goes against national law and international law. And no, they shouldn't refrain from it on my part, they should refrain from it because it is against the law, it is morally wrong and it is not beneficial for the soldiers they capture; the more we torture through waterboarding the more we are doing what we say we detest with their treatment of our troops.

And it is not acceptable as I have argued, in no way is it legal and on top of that it is wrong because it goes against basic human rights as stated by the Geneva convention. You say I cannot force my morals on this; equally then you cannot claim it to not be a harmful thing to the individuals it is being done to because it clearly is in both physical and psychological ways.

Source [1]: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Source [2]: http://civilliberty.about.com...
Source [3]: http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
ConservativePolitico

Con

Waterboarding Is (Still) Not Torture

Driving a car CAN cause sever pain if used regularly? Is driving torture? Many things CAN cause severe pain but that doesn't constitute them as torture. In waterboarding pain is not the goal, panic is. Torture says nothing about panic. Also, I checked your Wikipedia source and it's footnote where the information came from [http://www.hrw.org...] and it still shows NO proof of pain. All it says is "can cause pain", there is no documentation of it actually causing pain. Without pain you have no case for torture.

Also, drowning is not painful. It causes panic only.

And, if you'd read in my source, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed shows no signs of damage because he was the one giving people thumbs up in court during the 9/11 trial. He shows no remorse, no psychological scarring of any kind.

Also, it doesn't cause the same damage. If it did, waterboarding would kill you. It doesn't.

You are using the word "can" again. I "can" do a lot of things. I "can" murder someone but that doesn't make me a murderer. There is no documentation of extreme pain. There is no documentation of long term damage due to waterboarding. Until you can procure evidence supporting this it is not torture.

If you cannot prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that waterboarding causes documented events of "severe pain" in most if not all cycles then it is not torture and you lose the debate.

The Rest

If you can't prove waterboarding is torture, international laws about torture do not apply to waterboarding. I will address this after you have proven that waterboarding is torture.

Also, brought up on war crimes does not mean they are war criminals. Were they charged? If not then that means nothing.

Really? You think 9/11 wasn't worse than waterboarding? There is a lot worse than waterboarding. Should I link you a list of terrorist bombings in the Middle East? 9/11 death toll: 3,000. Waterboarding: 0.

Again, if waterboarding isn't torture it can't go against the Geneva convention.

Also, the information was correct because it led to Osama bin Laden's location being found out. This information was linked directly to waterboarding. See my source in the previous round.

Waterboarding is not torture. Until you can prove that this debate cannot move forward any futher because you keep referring to laws and morals based around anti-torture themes. If waterboarding isn't torture then your arguments don't apply.

Debate Round No. 3
bennourse

Pro

You claim that by me admitting that waterboarding doesn't always necessarily lead to physical damage that it is a downfall in my argument. Firstly, if you just deal with absolutes, then you aren't going to get anywhere; if you yield no ground or if you let your opinion distort the evidence then I'm afraid you're blinding yourself and discontinuing any opinion just because you don't agree with it. Secondly, not all torture leads to physical harm and yet it is still torture. If someone is beaten up, they may not have any physical damage beyond bruises but it is still torture. You seem to constitute torture as being just a physical act whereas I've clearly shown that it is also as much a psychological matter as it is a physical one and similarly, the Geneva laws state that. It causes physical pain (which I will show you later, again) and psychological trauma with the people being waterboarded. Similarly with people being beaten up, some cannot think anything of it and some would be scarred but it is still torture, so I again state that by you making blanket statements you're weakening your position.

And your example is flawed; driving's purpose isn't the same as waterboarding's and if you cannot understand that and you seriously put them on a level playing field then we're never going to see eye to eye. There is an obvious difference and I'd hope con wouldn't result to such examples which obviously mean nothing. They don't have the same purpose and one (waterboarding) is expressly there to cause pain, discomfort and trauma for information whereas the other is used for transport and for movement. There is no connection between the two in the sense con is alluding to and his example should be discounted.

There are many cases of doctors saying it is likely for it to have negative effects on the body. An associate of medicine "Allan Keller" says: "During waterboarding, some of this water can flow through the nostrils and into the lungs, Keller explains. Water in the lungs, especially if it's dirty, can cause potentially deadly pneumonia or pleuritis, an inflammation of the lung lining" [s1]. Also, from that document you told me to read it clearly states that "Waterboarding is torture. It causes severe physical suffering in the form of reflexive choking, gagging, and the feeling of suffocation. It may cause severe pain in some cases. If uninterrupted, waterboarding will cause death by suffocation. It is also foreseeable that waterboarding, by producing an experience of drowning, will cause severe mental pain and suffering. The technique is a form of mock execution by suffocation with water. The process incapacitates the victim from drawing breath, and causes panic, distress, and terror of imminent death. Many victims of waterboarding suffer prolonged mental harm for years and even decades afterward" [s2]. Now, I'm sure we've already agreed that psychological suffering constitutes it being called torture and so by it having a likelihood of causing severe pain through the gagging and suffocation, and similarly through the psychological trauma it brings its victims, it is torture and shouldn't be allowed to happen.

I put this to you; if a US soldier were waterboarded surely we would recognise it as torture (and rightly so) and think of it as wicked and disgusting? By what you're saying, the enemy can use waterboarding against our troops because it isn't harmful and doesn't cause pain; psychological or physical. I put to you then, con, that if you are seriously saying that it isn't harmful and it is a legitimate way to get information (and of course it isn't torture) then you must also accept then that if it is used by the enemy, it is just as acceptable. If con doesn't do this, then he is showing a bias which is detrimental to his position.

And you said that waterboarding doesn't kill you, but it can. Beating people up doesn't necessarily kill then; most forms of torture you don't want them dead because you want the information they possess. Con seems confused in what he thinks torture's aim should be and thinks that killing them is successful torture which is clearly not the case.

I have given you evidence that waterboarding causes you to feel like you're being smothered and for you to breath in water and how it can hurt your lungs and be painful. On top of this, I've also given you evidence of people who are familiar with it saying that it is psychologically damaging. If this isn't evidence to con then I don't know what will make him satisfied because that's that either of us can cite and my point still stands.

Where did I say "waterboarding is worse than 9/11"? One is the killing of innocents and the other is torturing people; both are despicable and to pick a best or worse seems to be irrelevant; they're both still terrible in their own ways. The more tempting torture becomes to use in situations the more sceptical we should be about it; as soon as you allow some forms of torture and you start to let the law ebb away it becomes a slippery slope and does more harm than good in the long run. You seem very statistical and all about numbers, which is fine. However, the number of people who have died from waterboarding in history has been clear; the Japanese for example used it against US troops and some of the did die from it. Similarly there's controversy in that US personnel may have killed two people but it is still shady and unclear (which it's bound to be).

Finally you mention that the information led to Osama's whereabouts. Even if this were true, why did it take them so long to find him if it was an effective form of torture? Surely it proves my point that for every lead they get, a hell of a lot of them must've been false because they'd tell them anything to make the ordeal stop.

Even if waterboarding doesn't always cause severe pain, then psychologically it is damaging and exploitative and clearly goes against the Geneva laws I have stated. If con is not happy with it always being a physical form of torture then it is clearly a psychological form of torture which is prohibited by international law. If con denies this, then he must admit that it isn't damaging in any way to the individual which has proven to be the contrary. I hope con will look at all the evidence and not just dismiss the statements of doctors and other qualified personnel who know a lot better than con or myself about the subject and how in either a physical or a psychological manner (or both), that waterboarding is indeed torture.

Source 1: http://www.scientificamerican.com...

Source 2: http://www.hrw.org...
ConservativePolitico

Con

I must sincerely apologize because I cannot make my argument for the last round.

I am graduating tomorrow and have family in town. I forgot this debate was only a 48 hour debate period instead of the traditional 72.

I hope the voters can vote on what has already been written and forgive my blunder. I will understand if I lose the conduct point or more if the voters wish it to be so.

My apologies.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by bennourse 4 years ago
bennourse
I am male last time I checked ... :L
Posted by bossyburrito 4 years ago
bossyburrito
16k, why do you keep saying She and Her? lol
Posted by bennourse 4 years ago
bennourse
Nah, it's okay. It was fruitful anyhow, hope you get through your finals okay. Thanks again :)
Posted by ConservativePolitico 4 years ago
ConservativePolitico
Thank you for your understanding! I do feel bad about not being able to finish up...
Posted by bennourse 4 years ago
bennourse
I'd advise the voters to not penalize much if at all; we can all be busy at times and this isn't an exception. Thank you con for the great debate, I relished getting the other point of view, it was interesting.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
bennourseConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Last round killed him, he needed that final rebuttal. She reiterated many good point which his refutations where weak and he failed to use his second chance. Also her case on torture was stronger. Also con had the bop (status quo changed) and he never met it. I did think overall his case was stronger but refutations seemed to be a weak point. Pro wins
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 4 years ago
royalpaladin
bennourseConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro established that water boarding is torture and then linked it to international law and U.S. law to prove that it should not be used. This is thus a Pro win. I am countering twsurber for his horrendous RFD. This is in addition to my own vote. When twsurber explains more clearly why he made his decision, I will subtract three points from my vote.
Vote Placed by TheOrator 4 years ago
TheOrator
bennourseConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: The main argument in the round came down to how much pain is actually caused by the torture. The pro succeeded in using the appropriate sources ( sometimes even the con's sources) to show it can cause severe pain, and then did a good job of linking it to international law and US law. I wish he would have brought up the eigth amendment banning cruel and unusual punishment, but even without it he did a good enough job to fullfill his burden of proof.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
bennourseConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:43 
Reasons for voting decision: Con probably would have won if it wasn't for his last round. His arguments were more convincing, but Pro did seem to prove in the last round that water boarding was torture.
Vote Placed by bossyburrito 4 years ago
bossyburrito
bennourseConservativePoliticoTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: I believe that Pro successfully showed that under the national (And international) definition, water boarding is torture. Con brushed off most of the arguments, saying that it only causes panic. Pro then proceeded to list all of the potential injuries that could occur.
Vote Placed by twsurber 4 years ago
twsurber
bennourseConservativePoliticoTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Good job on both sides but Con's case was more convincing.