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Critical Thinking - Human Rights and Torture

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Strayer University | Critical Thinking Paper: Revised (Human Rights and War on Terror) | Lori Schumacher | Professor Dena HurstPHI 210 | Strayer University | 6/21/2013 |

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How is torture defined? Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 says “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel; inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Does imposing torture amongst terrorist detainees help the United States in fighting the war on terror? Al Qaeda started its war against America by carrying out the simultaneous bombings of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 2008, the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 and what pulled the United States into the global war on terrorism, September 11, 2001. What I will be discussing will be the political atmosphere after September 11th and the roles of our government officials and intelligence agencies. America is supposed to be a country of human rights and not to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on criminals sentenced in our own penal system. Where have we as a nation fallen? I do not believe that torturing or using “enhanced interrogation techniques” will give us the upper hand in the global war on terror. Who ultimately authorized the United States to enter into torturing another human being? The United States became aware of abuses and torturing of detainees from the Abu Ghraib scandal in Afghanistan in April 2004. Detainees underwent serious mistreatment, torture, threatened with dogs and other degrading situations. The photography of the military captors were released to the press and made public. The United States government was handling the situation as an “isolated” incident. This as we know was now are aware, this was not an isolated incident. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was operating top secret “Black Sites” and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba opened for detainees and interrogations in January 2002. Most of us have heard that the CIA was conducting “enhanced interrogation techniques”, one being in the form of “waterboarding” which is simulated drowning. With the transfer of “high value detainees” held in CIA sites to Guantanamo Bay in 2006, more human abuses were brought to light. “The authorization for the United States to conduct torture by the Bush Administration represented a dramatic break with the past. As early as the Revolutionary War, General George Washington vowed that, unlike the British, who tortured enemy captives, this new country in the New World would distinguish itself by its humanity.” (Mayer, J.M., (2008). “The Dark Side.” Retrieved from electronic Kindle version, page 178). What has happened to the officials who approved the listing of acceptable “enhanced interrogation technique” methods? Nothing. Organizations have asked that former President Bush, former Vice President Cheney and White House and CIA attorneys all be tried as war criminals for the acts of torture during the Global War on Terror in Abu Ghraib and within the CIA’s “Black Sites” where rendition and “waterboarding” were performed. (Human Rights Watch (2011). “United States Getting Away With Torture” ISBN 1-564432-789-2). There is conflicting evidence based upon the agency whether the torture of detainees welded any new information about impending attacks against the United States. “There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held accountable.” Major General Antonio Taguba, June 2008 “Preface” to Physicians for Human Rights, Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact, http://brokenlives.info/?page_id=23 My survey results yielded interesting numbers. I surveyed ten respondents in a local mall and 60% of the respondents indicated that the United States should never torture anyone and should be able to obtain any information about future attacks in other ways. The respondents further elaborated that by us torturing these individuals, it makes us no better than the terrorists. All respondents agreed about the events of 9/11/01 changing the way we live from that day forward. 40% of the respondents actually said that we should torture because of the danger of terrorists and what they are capable of doing. 20% of 40% indicated that the United States should make fish food out of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and save our tax dollars in housing the detainees. Based upon a poll conducted by Huffington Post with the impending release of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” based upon tracking Osama bin Laden over 10 years. This survey only 25% said that torture of suspected terrorist who may know of future attacks is never justified, 19% said torture is always justified, 28% sometimes justified and 16% said rarely justified. The 41% who responded that torture is rarely or never justified were outnumbered by the 47% who said torture was always or sometimes justified. 54% of Americans said it is possible to fight terrorism without using torture. (Swanson, E., (2012) Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/torture-poll-2012_n_2301492.html) Ever since 9/11, there have been many books published and movies produced about the Global War on Terrorism. The first documentary about the practices of rendition and torture of detainees is about an Afghan taxi driver. This documentary is called “Taxi to the Dark Side.” It was released in 2008 and was produced by Gibney, A. It is graphic and details the drivers capture, torture and death in the hands of his captors from the United States. The most recent movie outlining the 10 year intelligence operation tracking Osama bin Laden portrays that the information about bin Laden’s courier was obtained from a detainee in a CIA black site from the use of “waterboarding.” There is no evidence to verify this information as the United States Congress was appalled at how some classified information was released to the producers of the movie. Today, there is 166 detainees being held at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The detainees have been on a hunger strike to object to changes in living conditions and other changes at the prison. The Pentagon ordered that the detainees be force-fed. Is force-feeding a prisoner a form of torture? I believe it is a form of torture and also may possibly be issues with the medical community and ethical standards that doctors and nurses follows. Of the 166 detainees, five detainees are the mastermind and co-conspirators of the 9/11 attacks, the mastermind of the USS Cole bombing and well as a couple other high value detainees who were were tortured and underwent rendition. Public source data shows that is costs the American taxpayers $900,000 per detainee a year to keep a detainee in Guantanamo. The operations budget for Guantanamo is $150 million annually. The United States has expended over $1.4 trillion dollars in the Global War on Terror. America has descended from a country that condones torture to a country that participates in torturing human beings. All CIA “Black Sites” were ordered closed by President Barrack Obama once he assumed office in 2009. I fear for our military members and American citizens who may be captured or kidnapped. Will these individuals possibly be tortured as retaliation for what the United States did to detainees in the Global War on Terror from other countries? Even though the CIA sites have been closed, have we turned over terrorists to countries that do torture humans? Torture is a violation of international law and should never be used even if we are not fighting a uniformed military.

References
Mayer, J.M. (2008). “The Dark Side – The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into A War on American Ideals”; published by Doubleday Books. Retrieved from electronic version for Kindle. (Original work published 2008)

Major General Antonio Taguba, June 2008 “Preface” to Physicians for Human Rights, Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact, http://brokenlives.info/?page_id=23

Human Rights Watch (2011). “United States Getting Away With Torture – The Bush Administration and Mistreatment of Detainees”; Report ISBN 1-56432-789-2. Retrieved from www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/US0711webwcover_1.pdf

Human Rights Watch (2005). “Getting Away With Torture”. Vol. 17, No. 1(G). Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/us0405/us0405.pdf

McAuliff, M., Huffington Post (2012). “Torture Poll: Most Americans Say Torture Is Justifiable At Times”. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/zero-dark-thirty_n_2288471.html

Swanson, E., Huffington Post (2012). “Zero Dark Thirty” – Wrong on Torture, Top Senators Say”. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/torture-poss-2012_n_23-1492.html…...

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