Use of Torture in Information Extraction


Many research states that information is a powerful tool for winning war strategies. It has become imperative in fighting with illegal terrorist groups of the Middle East after terroristic acts in the U.S. Although diverse state security institutions worldwide use torture as a valid method of extracting information, especially, from criminals, it is rightly considered an inhuman and medieval way of treating a human, regardless of his or her social status, origin, and the committed crimes. Hence, the legislative level cannot accept the use of torture.

The Eighth Amendment in the U.S. constitution claims that unusual and cruel punishments should never be inflicted in terms of human rights. Nevertheless, this definition might be a bit unclear and, hence, contentious. Currently, both the subject matter and the definition of “torture” itself remain debatable. The 2000 UNTAET Regulation provides the following definition of torture in its Section 5(2)(d): “a crime against humanity, as the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions” (Practice related, para. 2). In turn, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines torture as “the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure” (Torture).

Hence, such terms as inhuman, degrading, or inhuman punishment or treatment have to be interpreted in the way extending the protection against both mental and physical abuse, including the holding of imprisoned or detained persons in the depriving conditions.

Moreover, the contradictions in the two definitions mentioned above arise whether torture is severe pain or a sadistic approach of people with mental disorders satisfying their perverse needs for causing physical pain to people. If the purpose of torture is to extract the needed information, can it be referred to loyally and considered not cruel? These questions make opposing and defending torture an unfeasible task. Nevertheless, defying the essence of human rights, torture can never be regarded as a defensive act.

Research Question and Hypothesis

The primary aim of this paper is thorough research on whether the use of torture by the U.S. can be justified in terms of national security. Could the inherently morally corrupt practices and actions be justified in extreme conditions? If torture became a legalized judicially sanctioned practice, would it be ethically acceptable in terms when refraining from performing torture is likely to constitute much greater evil for the United States?

Review of Literature

International claims that “governments in Europe started applying torture in the eighteenth century to force opponents to support their non-inclusive programs” (2007). In turn, “the Kantian theory is related to the principles of the major world religions, such as Christianity and Islam. The Bible states categorically that an individual should do to others as he or she would wish them to do to him or her” (Bravin 4). According to Moher, the use of torture is “a gross violation of the international law, which provides that an individual should never be forced to offer information against his or her wish” (469). Still, there are many adherents of a theory that tortures can deter terrorists’ activities if they know that the state responds to terrorism with violation of human rights.

Nevertheless, it is a myth that using torture makes the USA look strong. Moreover, “during the Iraq War, the primary reason for foreign fighters to come to fight U.S. troops was the “perceived U.S. abuses of and lack of due process for detainees at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay” (Facts on torture). Hence, it does not provide any strategic advantage, and abuses by the U.S. enforce its enemies with stimuli under which they can involve new followers.

Abusive interrogation and torture are illegal under international law and U.S. law. President Obama strengthened the legal ban on torture on his second day in the White House. Moreover, in 2015, “the McCain-Feinstein anti-torture amendment was passed with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, solidifying the ban laid out in the president’s order” (Facts on torture). Even in case, those laws are changed, there are still three Amendments additionally to the Eighth (Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth) which protect suspects from torture.

In January 2002, counsel Alberto R. Gonzales advised that “the president, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has the constitutional authority to order interrogations of enemy combatants” and can lawfully order torture, without regard to federal criminal laws or international law (Evans 53). An approach that “interferes with the President’s direction of such core war matters as the detention and interrogation of enemy combatants would thus be unconstitutional” (Evans 53). It is noteworthy that when the internal documentation was publicized, government representatives immediately qualified the memos as legal studies with zero intention to use torture.

Research Methodology

The given research method includes data collection, study and analysis, and presentation of findings. The deductive theory method was applied in terms of this study. A well-known theory that torture is unacceptable in modern society and its validity was studied in specific circumstances – the need to protect national security. No population was involved in the study; hence, there were no tools such as questionnaires, oral surveys, or others. The conclusions and findings are presented based on thorough deductive research of the relevant documents and articles describing credible professionals’ opinions.

Findings and Analysis

Different international conventions reflected the mentioned above perspective in their absolute moral imperatives. They include but are not limited to, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Geneva Conventions of 1949, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. All of them prohibit using tortures with no exceptional circumstances, even when it comes to national security.

It is obviously impossible to ensure that there are no people with psychological disorders in security agencies taking pleasure in torturing an individual. Is it possible, in principle, to consider a mentally healthy person to be impassively looking at the unbearable torment of a human being? This question assumes conducting another explicitly focused research remaining arguable at the moment.

Intelligence experts and experienced interrogators state that the use of abuse and torture in interrogations is inefficient to elicit truthful and reliable information. Twenty-five former interrogators claimed that when emotional, psychological, and physical pressure is applied to victims, eventually, they are ready to confirm anything just to stop their pain. Therefore, the central interrogation’s challenge is obtaining credible and precise data instead of making people talk. Additionally, neurological science proved abuse and torture to be ineffective ways of interrogating prisoners.


Military leaders and experienced interrogators confess that torture use decreases both American safety and its ideals and values. In their letter to the Republican and Democratic National Committees, over 60 of the U.S. respected retired Admirals and Generals wrote that their political opinions and affiliations are diverse. Nevertheless, they expressed a collective unanimous and firm agreement that the country is strongest when its core values remain sustainable. A firm policy should be based on experience, principle, and logic, but not just power methods. Torture is a means of dealing with terroristic acts though it is unjustifiable under international law. It should never be used on a person for extracting information.


Bravin, Jess. “Pentagon Report Set Framework for Use of Torture; Security or Legal Factors Could Trump Restrictions, Memo to Rumsfeld Argued.” Wall Street Journal, vol. 6, no. 7, 2004, p. 4.

Evans, Rebecca. “Torture: Does It Make Us Safer? Is It Ever OK? A Human Rights Perspective.” New York: The New Press, 2005, p. 201. Web.

‘Facts on Torture.” Human Rights First. n.d. Web.

Moher, Andrew. “The Lesser of Two Evils? An Argument for Judicially Sanctioned Torture in a Post-9/11 World.” Thomas Jefferson Law Review, vol. 26, no. 2, 2004, p. 469.

“Practice Relating to Rule 90. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.” ICRC. n.d. Web.

“Torture.” Merriam-Webster,n.d. Web.

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