Thursday, April 23, 2009

Torture may be necessary, but it is never legal

I got a little distracted yesterday with the Santa Claus issue, but the reason I initially read the Matt Damon interview was because of a particular comment that I found interesting:
Look, the best line about torture I've heard came from [retired CIA officer turned war-on-terrorism critic] Milt Beardon, Damon says. He said, 'If a guy knows where a dirty bomb is hidden that's going to go off in a Marriott, put me in a room with him and I'll find out. But don't codify that. Just let me break the law.'

Which I think is right. You can't legalize torture. But anybody would do it in that situation. You'd do it to me in that situation; you'd pull out my fingernails if you thought I knew something like that.

At first his comments really bothered me.

All I could think was, "no, anybody would NOT torture another human being based on a perceived threat," because I know I wouldn’t.

I couldn’t.

Maybe that makes me a bad patriot, but so be it. There are plenty of people out there with psychopathic tendencies that would probably jump at the chance to hurt another person for the government.

I’m just not one of them.

But the more I thought about it, the more I got his point.

Which is: sometimes torture may be necessary, but it is never legal.

Even though I would greatly argue that torture is not necessary, his is correct in saying you shouldn’t legalize it.

And really that’s the issue we are facing right now.

The real debate isn’t about the so called validity of torture as an interrogation method; it is about the legality of it.

Does the government have the power to make torture legal?

That’s what this comes down to.

And the answer is NO.

(We did sign a little something called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which condemns torture and promotes due process. Oops...)

It’s pretty simple to me: If torture is such a useful and important tool, then these people should have no problem going to prison for the better good of this country (the fact that there are people sitting in prison on possession of marijuana charges while these people roam free is pathetic).

By not prosecuting these people we are essentially decriminalizing war crimes.

And that's a truly frightening thought.


  1. yeah his comments do seem a bit harsh at first, im still not sure abt them and that i would totally agree.

    I would not want any act of torture to be done in my name, whether legal or illegal, on the record or off the record. I find that repulsive.

    The issue other than torture here is the actual issue of terrorism and what causes terrorism. Then the CIA or whoever dont end up acting like animals.

  2. I guess I'm of the belief that if you torture someone enough they're going to tell you whatever you want to hear, just to get you to stop torturing them. So it's not necessarily a useful tool. Of course, there are probably some hard cases who actually have useful information and won't give it up without a fight. But I don't think there are many of them.

    As a country, we really should take the moral high road and by basically legalizing torture our former administration really stepped away from morality altogether. I can't imagine any situation in which I could torture someone, unless perhaps it meant saving my kids, (and not from some nebulous "someday a terrorist might maybe blow up another building somehwere")but even then it would make me a psychological wreck.

    I guess that just goes to show what kind of people were in our former administration. The kind who are eager, willing, and able to both approve of and most likely take part in torturing people. It makes me sick that this country elected them twice.

  3. I definitely don’t think torture is useful. The results it yields are highly debatable and I don’t think they are worth the moral cost they demand (just wanted to clarify in case anyone thought I condoned this behavior in any way).

    Like I said though, torture’s validity isn’t the issue we are facing today; it’s the legality of it. Whether or not, as a country, we are going to allow tactics that have always been considered torture to become standard legal interrogation practices.

    I really hope the answer is no.


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