Can Torture Ever Be Justified?

The world has experienced many terrorist attacks in recent years, especially the incident of September 11th. After this attack the world including United States realized the fact that they are open and vulnerable to any attack that can be initiated by the terrorists. War on terror and the entire story of Osama Bin Laden are part the same chain as the 9/11 attacks. These attacks have made the government of US realize that they have to protect themselves from any foreign or local threat and in the mean while they have to protect the individual rights. From this it can be observed that government is in a very odd position as it has to maintain a balance in between the national security and civil liberties (Moshang, 2010).

Incidents like September 11th, has reflected to the world that they are in need of new position to develop better security for them.  After the attack many suggestions were made from the authorities through whom they plan to fight against the potential threat. One advice was to adopt the method of interrogational torture so that future attacks could be prevented. This type of torture is different from other natures of tortures. Interrogational torture includes forceful interrogation through the use of torture so that needed information could be extracted from people. The use of interrogational torture has gained so much appreciation and also the criticism from different group of people. This research report is being constructed on the similar topic. It provides the discussion upon the legalization of interrogational torture that is conducted for different purpose. For this the report has included a logical flow of information from why need torture and how it can affect different entities. Since the case of incident considered is the 9/11 attacks which occurred in US, therefore the discussion is carried out in the similar direction.

Is Torture Justified?

This is the main question that needs to be answered is the justification of torture. Many surveys and researches have being conducted for the similar manner to realize that what the public thinks regarding torture. A survey conducted in the year 2004, which represented the fact that mostly people disagrees with the torture, however some of the respondents urged that in extreme cases the torture can be legalized. The reason for not torturing the individual is provided that it is against the human rights, and therefore it is highly unethical to torture anyone for any reason (Lingel, 2004).

However US have a long history of torturing different individuals for different purpose. Although it has not being the part of the constitution but still many practices can be observed. After the attack of 9/11, the interrogational torture was become a normal practice in order to extract the knowledge and information from the captured terrorist regarding the future prospects. The intelligence makes their future strategy on the basis of information that is provided by the prisoner. Bush administration can also be observed to use torture techniques against many detained terrorist. The most used techniques comprised of water-boarding, sleep deficit, forced nudity and forced standing. It was also revealed that in some cases the authoritative bodies even took some more steps forward which resulted in sexual humiliation, physical damage and in some cases even death (Head, 2011).  

Ticking Bomb Situation:

The September 11th attacks resulted in the huge debate of torture belief. There were two reasons for this fact one was Bush Administration that had adopted counter terrorism policies and in the same time the attack reflected the weak and vulnerable safety measures taken by the authoritative bodies. One more factor that supports the interrogational torture is the situation when there is prisoner in custody and he has the relevant and important knowledge which needs to be extracted soon in order to safe many lives.  The US forces have the situation where the law does not permit them to torture the individual; however it becomes naturally important to use different techniques so that the required information could be extracted (Head, 2011).

On the other side many criticism can be observed for this approach as well. The most authentic criticism done is that if lives of millions are on the stake, and if the prisoner is tortured or not, the persons involved in the interrogational torture would be pardoned by the jury. Hence it can be observed that criminal justice also does not take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening, and therefore there is no purpose of having laws against the torture (Lingel, 2004).

Legalizing Torture:

After the 9/11 attacks many steps have been taken by the intelligence agencies to get the interrogational torture legalize. Many government agencies have written to the justice department to gain access to interrogational torture. Many alarming proofs can be observed that the white house has authorized different strategies in order to make it ways to avoid the international procedure to treat the detainees. It can be observed specifically from the time period of 2002 and 2003, the justice department of US issued numerous memos through which it presented the justification for interrogation tactics which also includes the torture activities. The most effective memo in this regard was the March 2003 memo which was written by assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel. The memo comprised of 81 pages in which it was mentioned that interrogational torture can be used if it is able to provide results (Lingel, 2004).

As result the Department of Justice Lawyer and Department of Defense and the Pentagon provided with the US soldiers a legal defense for getting accused torture and homicide. Although to gain the information from the captured prisoners the interrogational torture was legalized. This was done typically for the detainees that were suspected to be involved in the 9/11 attacks. In the legalese paper, it was mentioned that if the detainee is given mental torture and it did not result in any harm than it cannot be defined as a torture. Moreover in the same paper it was also mentioned that if any employee is found to be involved in the interrogational torture in order to make it sure that the future attacks are prevented then that individual personal cannot be accused for any charge. However the legalized paper of torture also narrows down the activities to be conducted for interrogational torture. The paper provided with seven techniques according to the law which can fall in the category of torture. The list includes sexual abuse, cigarette burning, imminent death, beating, rape or making a detainee to view other detainee to get tortured (Lingel, 2004).

Hence it can be observed that to gain access to make the interrogational torture legalized, many steps were taken by the US government. The main purpose of this was to make it sure that the military operations and other intelligence agencies are able to extract the required information from the captured terrorists. From the above discussion it is apparent that to legalize the torture is accused and prohibited by the justice itself. It can be observed that different torture techniques cannot be used as they cannot provide the solution to stop terrorist attacks and it is quite visible for keen observers. Many incidents have been occurred since the Memo of 2003 legalized torture in US. Torture can be observed as the most extreme end of behavior that can be conducted with any individual. Moreover there are other strategic ways and methods through which the military can fight against the terrorism. US must also seek different methods and tactics to combat the threats of terrorism. The war on terror which was initiated by the US in response to 9/11 attacks, after the war was initiated many threats have been made to the country and other parts of the world (Brecher, 2011).

The Danger Of Legalizing The Torture:

There are many reasons which through which it can be observed that torture should not be legalized. The legalization of torture would result in the continuous practice of torture to prisoners. Even those who do not fall in the category of, those are to be tortured. Moreover legalizing this activity will result in implementation of at large scale. It can also be observed that if US starts torturing its prisoners, other nations will also start copying the same. The copying may not be as effective as it should be. Not necessarily every step would be followed as it is done in US. Torturing sometimes may also result in fake and false lead. This may occur when the individual may answer the questions with fear and may provide wrong answers. The evidence that is collected through torturing the individual may not subject to bring it in front of law (Brecher, 2011). 

Torture Should Not Be Legalized:

From the author point of view, there are other reasons as well which go against the legalization of torture even for interrogational purpose. This is because torture of any degree would not aid in stopping the terrorist attacks. Moreover this is a serious violation of human rights as well. Following are the main reasons which justify the fact that torture must not be legalized (Tran, 2008).

Torture Is Not Effective:

There is high probability that torture must is not effective and it can be observed in many cases as well. When any method is not effective any more it would be unnecessary to include the act as a national security. After 9/11 attacks many suggestions and advices were observed to support the use of torture so that it could help the US to prevent terrorist attacks. For some extent this method can be effective. Torture can be effective when people are to be punished or needs to be sent out (Brecher, 2011). However the effectiveness of interrogational torture is doubted for many reasons. The first and basic reason is the fact that suspect may not have the required knowledge. The second reason can be the fact that when even the suspect is able to give information it will not be reliable. The suspect can also lie during the interrogation process. In the end the torture cannot be effective as it cannot quite the process of terrorists. On the other hand torture may trigger more attacks from terrorist to save their member.

The interrogational torture in the case of ticking time bomb is not effective as well. This is because the probability of captured person may be innocent and may not have the required knowledge. This can be observed when many people were arrested from different parts of the world after 9/11. Hence it can be said that every person captured is not terrorist. On the other side if the government is able to capture any terrorist, then they might not have the required knowledge of the attack to be made. This is because of the organizational setup terrorist organization. On the other hand there is huge possibility that the prisoner may not be able to have the require knowledge. Hence it can be said that the torture is not effective to gain information. Hence it should not be legalized (Brecher, 2011).

Torture Is Morally Wrong:

Torturing any individual is the biggest example of violating the human rights. Hence through this by born rights of humans are violated. The core right of every human being is to get treated, and viewed with equality with every human race. Hence this gives the humans a free will to engage in any activity they want. On the other side the interrogational torture takes away the rights and makes the individual to become a puppet and will have to do whatever the interrogator asks him to do. From this point of view the basic rights are snatched and individual is being observed a terrorist not human (Tran, 2008).

Torturing human means treating humans like an object. Human rights are of greater importance as compared to any other law present in any region. They are everywhere. In the case when a wrongly suspected individual is being suspected as a terrorist and is being tortured which resulted in any physical disability, the individual has lost a lot from his life. Hence his life would become terrible and will reflect the wrong measures from the government (Brecher, 2011).

Negative Social Implications Of Torture:

The biggest issue in legalizing the torture is the fact that world will view it as normal practice. This may   also result in biased torture over any individual for the sake of terrorism. The world will perceive it as a practice that can be done without hesitation which will result in large scale of implementation of this. Moreover it will start happening in public as well, although this act must be done behind the close doors, but when government will legalize this act, it will be widely accept by the society and every generation will be accepting it more (Tran, 2008)..

Moreover in developed countries where the legal framework is quite strong and is being followed with greater care may be able to handle the torture activities in their own land. However those underdeveloped nations which are influenced and supported by developed nations may misuse the activities. They cannot handle the torture activities and therefore may leave a negative impact over the entire society as well (Tran, 2008).


The above paper is constructed in order to evaluate the legalization of interrogational torture. For this purpose the incident of 9/11 is being considered and therefore the major part of the report comprises of discussion over 9/11 and its impact over the United States. It can be observed that after the attacks the government of US made it possible to get the interrogational torture legalized so that it can gain information from the detained prisoners. Although US army is observed to be torturing many individuals during war which is quite apparent in many cases, but this act of government is being heavily criticized. This is done since torture has no place is not effective at all.

The above report is being constructed in order to provide the support that torture is not a legal activity and is against the human rights as well. Moreover the above report has also presented various evidences that how US government managed to include the torture an effective activity for military. The above report also provides a framework which states various reasons for which the legalization of torture should not be done. Amongst the various reasons the most significant is the fact that if torture becomes legalized then it will be implemented across the globe on mass scaling. Hence it can be concluded that interrogational torture should not be legalized.


  1. Lingel F, 2004, Legalizing Torture: white house lawyers sought legal loopholes to permit abuse, accessed on 1st December 2011, available at:
  2. Moshang P, 2010, Torture cannot be used as a national security policy, accessed on 1st December 2011, available at:
  3. Tran M, 2008, torture and enhanced interrogation, accessed on 1st December 2011, available at:
  4. Brecher B, 2011, why torture is wrong: always; everywhere, accessed on 1st December 2011, available at:
  5. Head T, 2011, Is Torture justified, accessed on 1st December 2011, available at:

Ahsan Zaheer

Trying to be human.

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