Cat’s Eye. Salt Pit. Guantanamo Bay. Places of mystery, controversy, and torture. Places highly ridiculed by government officials and American citizens alike. But are they really that bad? A majority of Americans support the use of waterboarding and torture like the tactics used at those sites, citing effective results, but a great number are also strongly against the use of enhanced interrogation, calling it inhumane and uncivilized.
As mentioned above, a majority of Americans, about 66% in some studies, support the use of enhanced interrogation and torture on suspected terrorists. In an article by President Donald Trump, he talks about his concerns for the country. He repeats multiple times in the article how enhanced torture works and is beneficial to the country. He writes, “All presidents are faced with difficult decisions, and I am sure the decision to use enhanced interrogation techniques would be one that would weigh heavily on whoever holds the highest office in the land.” President Trump believes that, though enhanced interrogation is something he supports, it would still be a tough decision for him to make. Overall, Trump deeply believes that, though torture may be controversial and would receive much criticism, the information gained from the tactics would greatly benefit the safety of the American people.
Many people with experience in intelligence fields also believe that waterboarding and other enhanced methods are quite effective. James E Mitchell, a former employee of the CIA who helped set up the agency’s enhanced interrogation program, is one of those people. He wrote an article that sheds light on his beliefs towards torture and waterboarding. In fact, Mitchell personally waterboarded people himself. He said, “I personally waterboarded the only three terrorists subjected to the tactic by the CIA. I also waterboarded two U.S. government lawyers, at their request, when they were trying to decide for themselves whether the practice was ‘torture.’ They determined it was not.” This quote shows how Mitchell fully believes that the action is not torture, and actually is quite useful. Mitchell also discredits the 2014 investigation initiated by the Senate that found torture is not useful, saying, “Critics will point to the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report that declared enhanced interrogation did not work. The investigation cost $40 million and took five years, yet investigators did not even speak to anyone involved in the program.” Mitchell, and other with the same views as him, believe that the investigation was faulty, biased, and inaccurate. Ultimately, the committee report had a big influence in banning torture, and, if it was faulty as Mitchell claimed, maybe it is time to take another look at whether or not torture should be legal. It is the least the US could do to at least readdress the issue.
It should also be noted that there is a very strong argument against torture in the United States. The stances of Republican candidates in the 2016 election on torture, namely Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio, all of whom are pro-torture to some extent, have come under extreme scrutiny. While it should be noted that the military, the CIA, and the Department of Justice can refuse to use torture even if ordered to, only the military would even consider resisting, according to Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA. He wrote, “Given that the CIA was the ultimate tool of choice to apply torture during the Bush administration, a refusal by the military to torture is no guarantee that other agencies would also refrain.” Hayden shows how there are such definite, clear-cut sides on this issue. Hayden also debunked the claim that torture is beneficial. Even if it works, he said, it brings the United States down to the level of the terrorists they are torturing. It would be tough to maintain the claimed morality of the United States if torture was reinstated.
There are many other arguments against torture, as well. Many people claim that torture produces bad information, and also how it puts America in a bad light. Retired Army lieutenant General Harry Soyster said, “It produces bad intelligence. It ruins the subject, makes them useless for further interrogation. And it damages our credibility around the world.” Soyster is not alone on the issue, either. Many of the people who oppose torture cite these same issues. Torture is very harmful to the reputation of the United States. It gives terrorists justification for their actions. Also, things like waterboarding can ruin the mental capacity of victims, ruining their ability to recall information that may have been valuable.
Overall, this is a very divisive issue. There are very good arguments for either side, which explains why people feel so strongly about one issue or another. All in all, though, torture is not good for the United States. Studies have shown that waterboarding and other forms of enhanced interrogation are not effective. Even if the reports and studies are faulty, as James Mitchell said, the negatives still outweigh the positives. The acts of torture make the terrorists feel like their actions are justified when the kill Americans. Those terrorists that are killing American people also could have been found and captured. However, victims of enhanced interrogation do not have the mental capacity to tell the government anything, even if they wanted to. No one should be reduced to such a state through pain and suffering. Torture is bad for the United States, victims of torture, and the world in general, and should never return to America, regardless of the conditions.
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