Should We Torture? - By Dhruva Aliman

If someone is trying to stab you with a knife, it is perfectly acceptable for you to knock that aggressor down and twist his arm in such a painful way that he loses his will to hold onto the weapon and drops it. He also loses his will to keep attacking you. You tortured him into submission, and no reasonable person would fault you for doing it because that's called SELF-DEFENSE. Torture has such a nasty connotation, but what is it really? It is just force, and force is either used for self defense or aggression, depending on intent. Intent is the root of all ethical or unethical actions.

Now, what if we capture a terrorist, and he's just sitting in an interrogation room, smiling at you like Hannibal Lector, while his well laid plans are in motion to kill thousands? Is it NOT acceptable to use force to get him to stop the attack just because he isn't physically moving his body in an aggressive manner? According to Obama and the far left, this is exactly right. However, according to logic and reason, it's preposterous. Why is it alright to torture the guy with the knife by cranking his arm, causing painful submission in order to get him to cease his attack, but it's not alright to torture a terrorist to get him to stop his attack?

Every Law enforcement officer and every military operator has tools to force opponents to comply with their demands. Cops have pepper spray, club and tasers to inflict a level of pain to gain compliance.
Just because you have a terrorist in custody doesn't mean they are no longer at war with you.
Their well laid plans and their operations are still rolling. Just because you have them in custody doesn't mean they now are going to call off their operations. Again, torture is just force.
The question is not whether to use painful force, the question is whether the force is being used ethically for defense, rather than maliciously, abusively, neglectfully or for no good reason.

President Obama's position on torture is clear. By his decree, the United States will no longer torture captured terrorists, it is against "our values". My question is- Since when is self defense against our values? One thing I've noticed about Obama (from his obtuse denial of the utility of the surge strategy in Iraq and surveillance at home, which he eventually realized was right, to his cutting of missile defense funding and naive desire to negotiate unconditionally with our enemies), is that he seems to have a very loose grasp of the basic concept of self defense. However, as I am about to demonstrate, his idyllic notions that we should be torture free, are not just unrealistic, but downright foolish. Not only that, but it is a promise that we could never possibly keep. 

Some might make the argument that if you torture an innocent person they will tell you anything. That is true, but it doesn't change the fact that if you torture the guilty, they will tell you what their plans are. All 3 detainees that were waterboarded by our government were self-proclaimed enemies of the U.S. We knew by their own actions and admissions that they were not innocent. So for those who want to say we should never use force on detainees because they might be innocent, that is an issue that is easily sorted out by the terrorists themselves. We just don't use force on those who aren't self-proclaimed enemies, pretty damn simple. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said another attack was coming but he refused to help stop it. So he was waterboarded, and the intel gleaned from that led to the capture of a terrorist planning to take down the Brooklyn Bridge. Investigators found his acetylene torch and his diagrams of where to cut the main cable. That attack would have killed almost 10,000 during rush hour. TORTURE WORKS ON PEOPLE WE KNOW ARE TERRORISTS. 

Among those who vouch for the effectiveness of waterboarding are former CIA directors Michael Hayden, George Tenet, and Leon Panetta, former Clandestine Service head Jose Rodriguez and former head of MI5 Eliza Manningham-Buller.

And we also know information about Usama Bin Laden's courier was also obtained from KSM after he was forced into a cooperative state through waterboarding. The questions the CIA asked KSM during waterboarding were questions the CIA already knew the answers to. That is how they were able to determine that KSM was in a cooperative state or not, by seeing if he was giving the right answers to questions the CIA already knew the answers to. So the left-wing argument that waterboarding may get us bad information is a non sequitur because they do not use waterboarding to get information, they use it to see if the terrorist is starting to cooperate or not. KSM confirmed the courier's name while in that cooperative state. That critical piece of intel led to the exact location of UBL.

Now, lets say because of good surveillance we hear a terrorist talking on his phone about a nuclear device that will explode in 25 minutes. He also mentions that he knows where it is and he could disarm it. Lets also say that he's on the phone long enough for us to zero in on his position and nab him. Should we just let this soon to be mass murderer just sit in the back of a squad car without any harsh interrogation, until some U.S. city goes up in a mushroom cloud?

Even if we were wise enough to force this terrorist to talk, this is hardly a waterboarding situation, there's no time. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times before he spilled the beans. We only have 6 or 7 minutes to get down and dirty if we have any real shot at saving at least some lives. We would have to get some bolt cutters and start taking off the guys fingers or something more precious. He may be ready to die, but there may be something won't want to to live without. If hundreds of thousands are about to be snuffed out and WWIII is about to be catalyzed, I would argue that "our values" demand that we try everything we can to prevent a disaster. If we get this jerk to talk we would only have minutes to start an evacuation, probably no time to disarm the weapon. However, while hundreds of thousands would still die, the intel we get in those few minutes of torture would save tens, if not hundreds of thousands more.

Everything we do to a prisoner is torture. Just throwing them in a cell is mental anguish, nobody wants to be in a cell. The question is not- Should we torture or not torture? The question is- What is the proper escalation of force for every situation? What is the gradient of torture or force that we should use on those that would do us harm? From the most minimal to the most extreme. A cop can taser an old lady if she is unruly and won't let the police handcuff her. That's perfectly acceptable all across America. But if an interrogator just threatens the self proclaimed enemy and mass murderer Sheikh Mohammed with electricity, Obama's special prosecutors would be all over that interrogator like stink on a monkey.

When police arrest someone, first they put their hands on the suspect. If the suspect resists, they tackle him or use pepper spray. If that doesn't work they use the Taser or baton. If that doesn't work, and the suspect is coming at them with deadly force, then the police shoot him. There is a proper, JUSTIFIED, escalation of force outlined to use to stop a criminal from harming the innocent. If Obama was smart enough, he would get his lawyers together (like Bush did), as well as get some ethicists and experts together to figure out what are the appropriate contingencies regarding forceful persuasion for every type of situation when you have a preponderance of intelligence pointing to clear and present danger, imminent or otherwise. That is the only honest, and practical way to deal with this issue. We are not immoral or unethical if our intent is purely self-defense and not aggression. Nor are we reckless or neglectful of human rights if we methodically and transparently set the parameters of how we use force based on our best intelligence.

Someday in the future, technology may present us with less painful ways of extracting information from terrorists, like a more effective truth serum. We now have brain scans that can detect the amount of electrical energy that is activated in the part of the brain that we use for lying. Perhaps that sort technology can somehow be used in the future to help us leverage precise information from suspects without hurting them, but until that day comes, we need a strong leader in the White House, not an ideologue pandering to his base.

And for those who want to still make the argument that by using force on selected prisoners will somehow put our soldiers and citizens in more danger, is on it's face absurd, since the whole reason we are fighting these savages is because they have no humanity or decency in the first place. They were killing and torturing innocent Americans and others long before Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and rendition. No amount of appeasement to our detractors is going to help us. This is not a popularity contest, this is a war. The sooner we win it, the better.

Union Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman said, "War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it..." He was an incredibly effective general that understood that tough action saves lives by shortening the conflict itself.

According to the United Nations Convention Against Torture (an advisory measure of the UN General Assembly) torture is defined as:

"...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions."

To this, I simply ask: Is defending the innocent not a lawful sanction?