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Thread: A Government's right to torture?

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    A Government's right to torture?

    Are there any circumstances in which a government should be permitted to torture a suspect?

    I would argue against this idea, on the grounds that a government which permits torture is ceding the moral high ground. It will, of course, be suggested that torture could reveal information that could save lives, however, such occasions are exceedingly rare and there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that torture does not yield first class intelligence, the victim is prepared to say anything to make the pain stop.
    However, I would argue, that it is more acceptable for a nation to lose lives as a result of a terrorist action, rather than to barbarise itself by sinking to the level of torture.

    Thoughts please.

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    Re: A Government's right to torture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabitha View Post
    Are there any circumstances in which a government should be permitted to torture a suspect?

    I would argue against this idea, on the grounds that a government which permits torture is ceding the moral high ground. It will, of course, be suggested that torture could reveal information that could save lives, however, such occasions are exceedingly rare and there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that torture does not yield first class intelligence, the victim is prepared to say anything to make the pain stop.
    However, I would argue, that it is more acceptable for a nation to lose lives as a result of a terrorist action, rather than to barbarise itself by sinking to the level of torture.

    Thoughts please.
    I would argue against government-sanctioned torture as well, most notably because of the very reasons you just gave. Of course, the United States has been debating this for some time, despite the Bush administration already proceeding with it. They used 9/11 and the possibility of future terrorist attacks as a pretext to this expansion in government power. Do I like the idea of terrorist attacks? I assuredly hate this notion, but you're playing with fire when you're rather short-sightedly allowing a government to do that which may (definitely in the case of the US) be against some of its most basic ideals. Besides, let's just say that victory is attained, something of which I am a skeptic when it comes to a well-funded, well-trained, worldwide, and (among others ethnically like them) difficult to discern from the general population group that outright hates those whom they are fighting. Even IF victory would be attained from information resulting from torture, I sincerely doubt that any government would willingly give up this "right." Who's to say that this would not be unleashed on anyone the government deems "hostile?" That's what I fear - a government even more out of control, even further trampling the rights of its citizens.

    Maryland

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    Re: A Government's right to torture?

    Absolutely not. If the government is allowed to torture, let's say, a Islamic extremist in order to gain information then what's to stop the government from torturing you or a political dissident? It's not to say it doesn't happen, which it most certainly does - but to turn a blind eye, or permit such barbarism is insane. We don't behave like animals in civilized society, and neither should those representing us in the government.

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    Sv: A Government's right to torture?

    Torture, maybe. If there were laws saying who could and who could not be tortured. Detailed laws which would sound silly and laughable to many just the way old victorian laws in british colonies today sounds silly to many.
    I believe muslim terrorists must be tortured. Not just out of rational purposes but out of pure hatred and vengeance. To degrade them.

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    Re: A Government's right to torture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabitha View Post
    Are there any circumstances in which a government should be permitted to torture a suspect?
    Yes - if the suspect is suspected of with-holding vital information.
    It is then the duty of the government to use all possible means to extract that information.

    I would argue against this idea, on the grounds that a government which permits torture is ceding the moral high ground.
    What is that "high moral ground"?

    Is Thou shalt not torture one of the Ten Commandments of Moses?

    Or is it some unworkable idea of 'human rights'?

    To my mind, a traitor or a serious criminal do not deserve such 'rights', whether the 'rights' be Biblical or Kantian.

    Essentially, it is about responsibility; the responsibility that a government has towards its law-abiding citizens.

    Any government which shirks that is unfit to govern.

    It will, of course, be suggested that torture could reveal information that could save lives, however, such occasions are exceedingly rare and there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that torture does not yield first class intelligence, the victim is prepared to say anything to make the pain stop.
    Not if they are always severely punished for giving false information.
    Only the correct information will end their pain [and of course the info will be checked out while the subject is being held].

    Human pain thresholds are such that most people will give up all the information they have to stop the pain [there are exceptions who will rather die than give up - so let them die].

    Remember that torture is often used to confirm known information.
    In other words the subject will know that you know that you know he knows; it is just a matter of his yielding it up.

    If torture didn't work, then it would never be used - and at any rate, that is not a moral argument.

    If you say that torure shouldn't be used because it doesn't work in any circumstances, then you are not operating on the level of "moral high ground" as you pretend, but on the ground of utility - a mistaken utility at that, as torture definately does work [torture techniques are quite varied - sensory deprivation is a very effective method of torture, for example].

    However, I would argue, that it is more acceptable for a nation to lose lives as a result of a terrorist action, rather than to barbarise itself by sinking to the level of torture.
    "Acceptable" to whom?
    A government that cannot protect its citizens is a failed government; it is completey unacceptable for a government to leave its own citizens open to terrorist attack.
    And it is certainly not acceptable to the families of victims.

    You are begging the question by suggesting that torture is "low" and "barbaric".
    This is not true; torture is a completely legitimate response to those who are traitors and enemies of the nation and the body politic.

    Not only that, torture is an art-form.
    There are certain men who are artists in torture, and who should be given such an outlet in every nation.

    Like the hangman, they do their job dispassionately and without a trace of sadism.

    And anyway - how do you define and delimit torture?

    If we use the definition of 'cruel and unusual treatment', then corporal punishment [beating] could be seen as such.
    To some liberals, even imprisonment is seen as 'torture'.

    Surely, once we outlaw such things as capital punishment, corporal punishment and torture [as the Human Rights addicted states have], then you are on the way to having a state with very few sanctions and deterents against wrong-doers, as is the case with certain Western European states today who have buckled under terrorism.

    Of course, in a perfect world we wouldn't need to torture anyone, just as we wouldn't need to punish anyone.

    However, we do not live in such a world, and never will.

    Those governments who have abjured torture have opened themselves up to enemy action in a most irresponsible way.


    Quote Originally Posted by Maryland View Post
    They used 9/11 and the possibility of future terrorist attacks as a pretext to this expansion in government power.
    The misuse of power in a particular case is no argument against power as such, any more than the use of poison is an argument against food.

    Just because our enemies use torture doesn't make torture wrong anymore than the fact that our enemies use spys makes spying wrong.

    That's what I fear - a government even more out of control, even further trampling the rights of its citizens.
    I would say that the rights of a citizen to protection from an enemy attack is one of the most important rights that a government can uphold.

    Quote Originally Posted by Veritas Aequitas View Post
    Absolutely not. If the government is allowed to torture, let's say, a Islamic extremist in order to gain information then what's to stop the government from torturing you or a political dissident? It's not to say it doesn't happen, which it most certainly does - but to turn a blind eye, or permit such barbarism is insane. We don't behave like animals in civilized society, and neither should those representing us in the government.
    Unfortunately, those are the risks we have to take.

    A life without risk is not possible [or desirable].

    If you oppose a government from within then you have to expect - if you are caught - to be punished and tortured [not necessarily in that order].

    In fact it is a Leftist/Islamist tactic to harp on about 'human rights' to Western governments, trying to prevent them from using punishment and torture so that they can overthrow the government and culture!

    What strong government in its right mind would dispense with such things [outside of an Utopia]?

    An Islamic government wouldn't [and nor should it].

    The West will be defeated because it no longer believes in strong measures of law, order and ruthless counter-terror.
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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    Re: A Government's right to torture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Moody Lawless View Post
    Yes - if the suspect is suspected of with-holding vital information.
    It is then the duty of the government to use all possible means to extract that information.



    What is that "high moral ground"?

    Is Thou shalt not torture one of the Ten Commandments of Moses?

    Or is it some unworkable idea of 'human rights'?

    To my mind, a traitor or a serious criminal do not deserve such 'rights', whether the 'rights' be Biblical or Kantian.

    Essentially, it is about responsibility; the responsibility that a government has towards its law-abiding citizens.

    Any government which shirks that is unfit to govern.



    Not if they are always severely punished for giving false information.
    Only the correct information will end their pain [and of course the info will be checked out while the subject is being held].

    Human pain thresholds are such that most people will give up all the information they have to stop the pain [there are exceptions who will rather die than give up - so let them die].

    Remember that torture is often used to confirm known information.
    In other words the subject will know that you know that you know he knows; it is just a matter of his yielding it up.

    If torture didn't work, then it would never be used - and at any rate, that is not a moral argument.

    If you say that torure shouldn't be used because it doesn't work in any circumstances, then you are not operating on the level of "moral high ground" as you pretend, but on the ground of utility - a mistaken utility at that, as torture definately does work [torture techniques are quite varied - sensory deprivation is a very effective method of torture, for example].



    "Acceptable" to whom?
    A government that cannot protect its citizens is a failed government; it is completey unacceptable for a government to leave its own citizens open to terrorist attack.
    And it is certainly not acceptable to the families of victims.

    You are begging the question by suggesting that torture is "low" and "barbaric".
    This is not true; torture is a completely legitimate response to those who are traitors and enemies of the nation and the body politic.

    Not only that, torture is an art-form.
    There are certain men who are artists in torture, and who should be given such an outlet in every nation.

    Like the hangman, they do their job dispassionately and without a trace of sadism.

    And anyway - how do you define and delimit torture?

    If we use the definition of 'cruel and unusual treatment', then corporal punishment [beating] could be seen as such.
    To some liberals, even imprisonment is seen as 'torture'.

    Surely, once we outlaw such things as capital punishment, corporal punishment and torture [as the Human Rights addicted states have], then you are on the way to having a state with very few sanctions and deterents against wrong-doers, as is the case with certain Western European states today who have buckled under terrorism.

    Of course, in a perfect world we wouldn't need to torture anyone, just as we wouldn't need to punish anyone.

    However, we do not live in such a world, and never will.

    Those governments who have abjured torture have opened themselves up to enemy action in a most irresponsible way.




    The misuse of power in a particular case is no argument against power as such, any more than the use of poison is an argument against food.

    Just because our enemies use torture doesn't make torture wrong anymore than the fact that our enemies use spys makes spying wrong.



    I would say that the rights of a citizen to protection from an enemy attack is one of the most important rights that a government can uphold.



    Unfortunately, those are the risks we have to take.

    A life without risk is not possible [or desirable].

    If you oppose a government from within then you have to expect - if you are caught - to be punished and tortured [not necessarily in that order].

    In fact it is a Leftist/Islamist tactic to harp on about 'human rights' to Western governments, trying to prevent them from using punishment and torture so that they can overthrow the government and culture!

    What strong government in its right mind would dispense with such things [outside of an Utopia]?

    An Islamic government wouldn't [and nor should it].

    The West will be defeated because it no longer believes in strong measures of law, order and ruthless counter-terror.
    Basically, a lot of what I'm saying is in accordance with what Veritas Aequitas previously said:

    You may love Britain and its people just as much as I love America and its people, and you may want to protect them just as much as I do, but can you honestly say that you trust your government, or any government for that matter, especially with carte blanche to do exactly as it pleases without any public oversight? It's especially problematic in regards to terrorists, as they can be citizens. Granted, they are definitely not the kind of citizen I'd like to see in my country, but here's my question: Who's to say that, if the government has the right to torture (even its citizens), it won't do the same to any citizen they deem an enemy combatant just because they may be against a specific policy or a war? If a government has the ability to torture anyone they deem hostile, then it's only a matter of time before law-abiding citizens who happen to be on the dissenting side are tortured and violated by a government originally intended to protect them.

    I think this famous quote is appropriate here: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

    Maryland
    Last edited by Maryland; Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 at 07:06 PM.

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    Re: A Government's right to torture?

    The problem with tortures made by USA are the following: the government says they don't torture and that they are fighting a fair war. We know they lie when they say that, at least about tortures. We don't like hipocresy, and the governments are hipocrit. If they said "Yes, we torture because it's necesary", good, now we can discuss if torture is moral or inmoral, but the most of you focused in the hipocrsy of the government.
    About the morality of the torture, well, I don't think it is so bad. I'll tell you my opinion; almost everyday I hear about old people, children and workers with family being stolen and robbed, sometimes killed by [censored by myself] thiefs, drugaddicts, politicians and all those things (because we can't call them "people"). I mean they cause suffering and pain to people who believes in honour and works to bring peace and health to their homes, and all of a sudden a [again censored by myself] terminates with their dream. Isn't that torture?! You make all what you can to be a good person, you are screwed up and a judge says that the criminal is a victim from society. That's torture. Punishing with Vlad Tepes' methods any of those excrement bags is not torture but justice. How big was the crime index during dictatorial regimes? Quite low indeed, huh?
    I'll go further; if I had the oportunity to make a security plan, I would allow torture, but first everybody will be adviced about the punishment for being criminal, as we make with all laws published. Those who don't want to change will be tortured in public until death. All the governments which employed similar tactics had very low crime index.

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    Re: A Government's right to torture?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mazorquero View Post
    The problem with tortures made by USA are the following: the government says they don't torture and that they are fighting a fair war. We know they lie when they say that, at least about tortures. We don't like hipocresy, and the governments are hipocrit. If they said "Yes, we torture because it's necesary", good, now we can discuss if torture is moral or inmoral, but the most of you focused in the hipocrsy of the government.
    About the morality of the torture, well, I don't think it is so bad. I'll tell you my opinion; almost everyday I hear about old people, children and workers with family being stolen and robbed, sometimes killed by [censored by myself] thiefs, drugaddicts, politicians and all those things (because we can't call them "people"). I mean they cause suffering and pain to people who believes in honour and works to bring peace and health to their homes, and all of a sudden a [again censored by myself] terminates with their dream. Isn't that torture?! You make all what you can to be a good person, you are screwed up and a judge says that the criminal is a victim from society. That's torture. Punishing with Vlad Tepes' methods any of those excrement bags is not torture but justice. How big was the crime index during dictatorial regimes? Quite low indeed, huh?
    I'll go further; if I had the oportunity to make a security plan, I would allow torture, but first everybody will be adviced about the punishment for being criminal, as we make with all laws published. Those who don't want to change will be tortured in public until death. All the governments which employed similar tactics had very low crime index.
    I'll agree with you that it's extremely difficult to open some sort of serious dialogue on the matter when a government goes ahead and does what it sees "fit" without even listening to the citizens who have put them in office. As for the implementation of torture as a deterrence for future criminal activity, I'm not so convinced it's all that effective in the long-term sense. Yes, the statistics will show that crime may go way down for as long as a government may last as a dictatorship, but as soon as a government crosses the line and unleashes unspeakable cruelty upon its people (criminals or not), there are those who become disenfranchised and seek revolution. This continues though, because the concept of a dictator becomes part of the political culture, so much so that a new government does not know how to cope without resorting to torture and other measures like it. Then what happens? In the former Soviet Union, for example, torture and very public deterrences to crime were utilized. Along with a whole host of other issues, this led many there to be starkly opposed to their government. The Soviet Union is gone, and is Russia all that better? Russia's using many of the same tactics, and they still are unable to control crime (especially organized crime). That's my take on it.

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    Sv: A Government's right to torture?

    Everyone lies. When USA claims they fight a clean war they lie just as much as those who claim Nazi-Germany didn't commit genocide lie.

    I am not against the USA or the Nazi way of war, but I don't feel the need to deny it.
    I am in favor of torturing muslims just because they deserve to be tortured and I support what is considered "war crimes" etc without shame. More people should be like me. Why so scared of the evil side of man?

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