Torture the Use of Non-Lethal Torture in Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


The use of non-lethal torture in interrogating possible criminals has always been an area of debate. It wasn't hot topic when the terrorist activities were kept at a down low in the nineties. However, following nine eleven and the surge of terrorists, it became necessary to be aware of the activities they were up to. The major debate lies in the fact that whether a known terrorist should be subjected to non-lethal torture in order to attain information from him. There are questions whether these procedures should be mad into a law and the problems that would surface if it did. The major conclusion is that non-lethal torture would be deemed fit in a case when the person is a known terrorist and is expected to cause chaos and damage. Even through torture is morally wrong, in some cases it might go onto save thousands of people from dying.

Jeremy Bentham went on to state that there have to be certain instances which make it acceptable to carry out nonlethal torture. Thus, even though he didn't exactly favor it; Bentham did not think it was wise to completely make it illegal. He believed that the authorities should have that as a tool to use when they think that the person is the criminal and is likely to cause a lot of damage. He proposed that that either it would be the suffering of a criminal or the suffering of thousands of people who are innocent. The thousands of people mentioned earlier would be the ones that would be in the ticking bomb case presented. (Dershowitz, 2002)

A case was presented of Zacarias Moussaoui who was suspected to be talking very suspiciously and was reported to take lesions by paying a lot of money. Even though the government found his actions and behavior fishy, it failed to look into his computer. The FBI agents tried many ways of trying to get him to talk and tell of any information that could be useful. They tried many ways along with using sodium pentothal or other liquids that make a person speak the truth. An interesting thing to note here is that one of FBI agents did propose the use of non-lethal torture. The method that he gave was to use needle underneath the nails or drilling in a tooth.

When there is the question of using torture is where a single person can possibly damage millions or thousands of people, torture might seem like the better option. Thus it is a better option to apply torture one possibly guilty terrorist having some sort of information that could go on to save the lives of hundreds or thousands of people. It is necessary that the lives of innocent of people should be given more importance than the integrity and pain reception of one certain person. (Dershowitz, 2002)

Right after the nine eleven attacks happened, there was a false alarm about the Russians withholding a bomb that could have gone to blown up in New York. This was not just any bomb but a nuclear bomb that would completely wipe the complete city. In the real scenario, the source was not credible enough thus it did not attain a lot of importance. However, let's suppose that it did, Dershowitz believes that it would have been plausible to make use of torture in this scenario. When there is a stake of an entire city, then torture seems like the only plausible answer.

An important point that Bentham raises is that there should be the proof of someone being a terrorist. Surely, a terrorist suspect would not be taken in and tortured to attain information from him. In this scenario, the authorities aren't even sure that the person is a terrorist thus no intense measures should be taken against him. If in the case of the nuclear bomb, the person was a known terrorist and even after using all tactics he did not tell where he was hiding the bomb, then which option would remain? It is argued that the police officials know that the person is aware of a bomb that could kill thousands. In this scenario, Bentham would have agreed. (Dershowitz, 2002)

W.L Twining and P.E Twining have put forth an argument that completely negates the theory given by Bentham. The term torture itself is a very broad term and it can incorporate different forms and different intensities of torture. For a word and act so ferocious and wild at first, it would be not only difficult but impossible to put any limits to it. A major reason why people are against using it in even the most specific and dangerous cases is that it would put humanitarianism many years and centuries back. Since long, there has been battle to give human rights and give them more importance. If major countries like the United States or the United Kingdom agreed to torture, then that would be giving a reason to other governments to go against even the basic human rights without any intrusion.

As mentioned earlier, it would be difficult making a law or a regulation out of torture. Another major setback in making it legal would be how different countries would wish to make a line between what is classified as torture and what isn't. No government in the world can be relied upon for this sort of power. It would be problem in figuring out which situations torture would be suitable and in which it wouldn't. If by some turn of events, torture does go on to be an easy way for getting vital information. This can lead to many sorts of corruption in the law and force sector. Offices can abuse this power to get statements they want for their interest.

In instances when torture is allowed to be used as a weapon just because it favors utilitarianism, the concept of limits come out in a very important manner. It was mentioned that non-lethal torture can be used to gather information that the terrorist has. It's put forward that what if it becomes necessary to torture the terrorist loves ones in order to get the information that the officials wanted? Maybe the terrorist was like the brainwashed terrorist who goes ahead with suicide bombings. If there are people who are willing to get themselves killed, may be they have an extremely high threshold for enduring pain.

It was argued that what if the torture that is allowed to question terrorists included acts that include their loved ones, their family and their innocent children? (Drogin & Miller, 2001) Many a time's men are involved in activities that their wire and children don't have a clue about. Will emotional blackmail and emotional torture be used as a tool in this scenario as well? Another thing to look into with great detail was that when some people have a high threshold, many have a low threshold as well. What if the non-lethal torture leads to the demise of the convicted? What happens then?

Unless the people and the law officials can put themselves in certain limit, they are at a risk of going down a slippery slope. The rulers and the officials should therefore be careful not to become tyrants and oppressor just because they have the power to torture the convicted criminals. (Dershowitz, 2002) By this argument, Dershowitz had convinced that if the use of non-lethal torture could be made use only if they were used within justified norms of morality.

The idea of death penalty is pushed in when talking about using and justifying torture. For people who are murderers and known to have killed one or more persons, the death penalty is quite a suitable punishment for them. Death might be painless even given through hanging yet if a choice was given; many would at least choose to be alive. Death penalty is reserved for those who are sure of a murder, then why can't torture be made ok for those who are confirmed terrorist? These people are terrorists and any information they might have about future attacks would help the officials a lot. Not even that, for suspects who are escaping prison or fleeing, deadly force is used for them as well. Even more important is the military retaliations that the military of democracies is forced to use at times. In the aforementioned scenario, not only are the bad guys killed or injured but many a times even innocent civilian lives are lost. If the government and the law agencies are making all of this acceptable, then what is the harm in allowing torture that go on save thousands of lives in future terrorist attacks. (Dershowitz, 2002)

Even do the law officials do not want to accept it, everyone is aware of what goes behind the walls of American prisons. Just because a person is given prison time, doesn't mean that he has gotten it easy without torture. The inmates are beaten, knifed, punched, raped and tortured in American…

Cite This Essay:

"Torture The Use Of Non-Lethal Torture In" (2013, January 18) Retrieved August 18, 2017, from

"Torture The Use Of Non-Lethal Torture In" 18 January 2013. Web.18 August. 2017. <>

"Torture The Use Of Non-Lethal Torture In", 18 January 2013, Accessed.18 August. 2017,